Category Archives: Francesca Leonardi

Speak Italian: The Fine Art of the Gesture.

This was the opening of my first Italian class, which is the first step of my new project ITA.k! [ИТА.к!, which stands for Italian klass, but at the same time it’s a Russian word, it means “so, then, well”].
So, this week my Italian class got started. To be honest, before coming to Ukraine I didn’t want to teach Italian, or rather, I didn’t want to teach at all. In the last two months I tried to focus on other activities, like theatre, poetry, my still-too-shy Russian, politics. But my Italian temper and attitude, as well as my strong Italian accent, keep giving me a certain “feature” that people cannot help from noticing and underlining and that somehow fascinates them.. and makes them laugh, because of my being loud and messy, someway theatrical, with my hands moving all the time and shaping every single word I utter.

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Comfortable as an old shoe.

Why am I going to the Ukrainian speaking club when I cannot speak a word of Ukrainian? The reason was the topic of the day: theatre, plus friends who wanted to drag me there and my usual “letshavealook” attitude, that has granted me many unexpected and pleasant opportunities as well as many lame ones.

As I got in to the library I was asked to take my shoes off and to leave them in the entrance hall. I couldn’t get the reason and thought it was just the way they do it, or maybe to keep the place clean… whatever, let’s take my old shoes off. As we sit down in circle, naked-feet, in the next room we were asked to go back to the “shoe-rack room” and get a random pair. Once this step was done, all of us would guess the owner by carefully looking at the shoes and describing them to the audience, paying attention to all that they could communicate about their owner, about their story. We had only two chances and once the owner was guessed he/she would trade places and find out the next owner.

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From International to Infra-generational Russian Speaking Club

«Let’s talk about some article of the week we found interesting», I suggested as a topic for this Sunday’s Russian speaking club. But actually, I have to say that it’s impossible to stick to an issue, the conversation goes free and smooth and in the end, we practically avoid to correct our “homework”. It’s such an anarchic club, this one! The atmosphere gets more and more friendly and I am glad to see that new people come and have a look, even though only for one time or a couple of times. Read the rest of this entry

Italian Poetry on Stage


One of the questions I got after reading the poems was a simple «Why?», why this idea? Well, seeing that I am all but a laconic person, let’s start from the beginning.

The first time I took part to The poetry evening, «sketches of talent», last month, I went back home with a lot of good, positive and sparkling feelings. It was the perfect closure for my first day of work at school. I remember I was extremely tired (and fed up with the never-ending snow), yet I still had a lot of energy to drain. Kids are like that: they make you tired, yet at the same time they give you excitement and thrill. And love. Which I guess is but the trigger of excitement. Read the rest of this entry

If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed.


In spite of the snow… here we are!

The subject of the next non-Russian Russian speaking club will be “How you imagine your life in 10 years” (probably still a jobless volunteer in Ukraine!). Oh well, when I proposed such a topic I thought it would be very easier… but after a few minutes spent biting the tip of my pen and looking around searching for ideas I realized it was tougher than I imagined, especially when you have to think about your future plans in Russian. By the way, if you want to know, in the end I collected some ideas, and set up a good plan for my future… I’m ready for the next Russian speaking club!
As soon as I arrived in Ukraine, I understood that having studied Russian for 5 years in Italy was not enough to communicate, that knowing how to inflect cases and verbs was not enough to talk to people. And here in Ukraine, when it comes to communication problems, you immediately understand that you cannot count on Ukrainian people to try to speak English. As soon as they see you cannot speak their language they just turn their head or just say a lazy “нет английского”, usually with a grin which makes you feel a real idiot for not speaking Russian. At worst, especially when you try to speak to older people, they just shout at you or grumble something completely unintelligible. Also in the second case you will feel like an idiot!
So, “If Mohammed will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mohammed”, where Mohammed is Ukraine and we (foreigners) are the mountain.

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