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Travel to Italy: Pizza, Pasta & Family

Living with a host family in Italy and teaching in a local school is one of the best volunteer abroad programs someone can do.

Dee Murray, of Philadelphia, says filling out GeoVisons’ application to be placed with a host family abroad was a bit like online dating.   But she admits GeoVisons “got it right” when they placed her with her with “the most perfect” host family in Italy three years ago.  She says living with a family in Italy and volunteer teaching in a local school is one of the best volunteer abroad programs out there.

“Today, we are still such a big part of each others family,” reflects Dee.  “I don’t have grand kids yet, so I love playing that grandma role.  They are like my second family.”

Dee first met her host family, from the Marche region, back in 2012 when she participated in GeoVisions’ Teach English in Italy volunteer program.   The 66-year-old was looking for “an experience of a lifetime,” and found it.  In fact, Dee loved her experience so much that later this month she will be embarking on her fourth trip to Italy through GeoVisions!

“You won’t find me in Pennsylvania very often,” says this jet setter.  “I’ve been known to return home from one trip, do a few loads of laundry, and off I go for my next trip.”

(When we called Dee for this interview, she was busy packing for a Denver ski trip the next day.)

Each time Dee has traveled to Italy though GeoVisions, she has stayed with her beloved host family, which also came to visit her in the United States for three weeks - which included a trip to New York City, pictured above.

With close to 200 countries in the world, we asked Dee what’s so special about Italy, which she has visited about eight times.  “Italy is so precious to me… the history, the people, the diversity-- it’s just so welcoming.  And the food is great too!"

(Fun fact: Dee majored in French in college.)

Dee says if you decide to travel to Italy, be ready to answer a lot of questions about life in the U.S.  She also says she gets a lot of “Do you happen to know this person, or that person?” Because “Everyone in Italy seems to have a cousin the U.S.,” she says.  Dee also warns, “Be prepared to wear a lot of stiff clothes, because most people don’t have a dryer.  Washer yes- dryer no.”

As with the previous years, this year Dee will be volunteering in a middle school teaching English to sixth, seventh and eighth graders.  It’s a perfect fit for her, being a retired school teacher.  Dee says she enjoys the relationships she builds with not only the students, but also the teachers.   “It’s quite a team effort among all involved,” she says.  And given all of that, Dee thinks this particular teach abroad program is one of the best volunteer abroad programs at GeoVisions.

As she continues to travel to Italy each year, her Italian has gotten better.  But don’t tell her three host children that.  “Sometimes I pretend not to understand Italian very well just to force them to speak English.  However, I think they may be on to me!”

Sneak Peak: Attention movie buffs!  On Tuesday we’ll hear from a Cincinnati couple who recently returned from a trip to New Zealand and took a tour of where “Lord of the Rings” was filmed.

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