English for Pasta

English for Pasta is an activity where Harding University students participating in the HUF (Harding University in Florence) program are invited into Italian homes and they are served a meal (typically pasta) in exchange for speaking English to the children.

All of the students were divided into groups and then we were on our way to dinner! I was in a group with two other students and we were invited into the Mecchi family’s apartment. The Mecchi family consisted of a father, mother, son, daughter, bunny, and dog named Otto and the kids each invited friends for dinner. They served us appetizers, pizza, and tiramisu.

When we arrived, we were welcomed by their bunny. The bunny was waiting for the  Mecchi’s to arrive and the kids went to greet it. However, when we tried to pet it the bunny ran away. After we walked in the doors we were taken to the backyard and served different kinds of appetizers such as mozzarella, prosciutto, salami, and different kinds of vegetables. We tried conversing, but it was hard! The Mecchi’s knew a little bit of English, but not enough so they brought their iPad out and had Google Translate open. It was fun because when they didn’t know a word in English they would put it into Google and let the iPad read it out loud. We eventually got to a point where we were able to have a conversation and we enjoyed talking about what the kids like to do, what sports they play, and what their favorite movies were.

Once it was time for dinner we washed our hands and went downstairs. Downstairs they had set up a table with a few pizzas ready to be eaten. It was delicious! They made different kinds of pizzas and put it in their oven for a minute. If they left it in for longer, then it would burn.

The Mecchi family even let us try making our own pizza! We took the dough and sprinkled flour to the table to make sure it wouldn’t stick and we made it flat. Then we added some tomato sauce and spread the sauce in a circular motion. Then we added all kinds of toppings and stuck it in the oven! We waited a minute and presto! It was done! We all enjoyed conversing and eating pizza. After dinner the boys left and while the parents cleaned up, the girls and our group played foosball and a game called Lift It! When it came to foosball we tied and then the girls beat us in the final game.

Lift It! is an interesting game. It’s challenging, stressful, and a lot of fun. The goal of the game is to recreate the image on the card within the allotted amount of time written on the card to get points. If the player can correctly complete the card within the time given, then they get the number of pieces played plus three extra points for completing it correctly. If a player can only complete part of the card then the amount of points that they get is the amount of pieces they correctly completed. If a player lands on a “Lift It!” piece, then a person on each team must compete and complete the same card without being timed. The person who finishes first wins that round. However, if a player lands on a yellow spot then they must tie a velcro string to their head and place pieces with their head. That is when it gets tricky! It was a fun game and it was nice to play a game that was easy to learn.

After lots of laughs and good conversation it was time to go. I’m so happy that Harding has a program like English for Pasta because it allows the students to interact with an Italian family and see how they live. I hope they keep this activity going and that maybe my group can hang out with the family again!

The Mecchi Family + The HUF Students
Pizza dough

Their oven in their basement
The heart shaped pizza that I made


*All photos taken by Le Petit Traveler



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