CHAPTER TWO: Moving East
Pre reading activities.
This technique- which focuses
on interpretation and speaking skills - derives from drama training. Place a
chair in front of the class. Whoever sits in that chair "becomes", as long as
she/he is sitting there, a character in Ursula’s story, or Ursula herself. It
could be anybody, including rabbits, dance teachers, the waiter serving Ursula
the ice-cream on the rainy day her father told her about the divorce. The rest
of the class is allowed to interview her/him, asking any kind of question.
Naturally, there is no a "right" or "wrong" answer to questions that do not
relate to matter of fact in the narrative. One must really "get under the skin"
of the characters.
heading is "Moving East". What is "East" to an American? Where is Ursula going?
And what is East and West to an European? Can we talk "the same language" or do
we always have to consider the starting point, the point of view of the speaker,
and in a broader sense, her/his traditions and culture?
After the reading of the
chapter Ursula’s education is described in detail. When she is 16 she goes to a
boarding school in Vermont, three thosand miles away from home. Then she chooses
Bennington College in south Vermont. It is a college with a strong artistic
program. In summer she takes summer jobs to have some money during the year, but
also to help her mother pay for her schooling, which in the States is usually
quite expensive. How does Ursula’s experience differ from that of the average of
On page 53
Ursula says that at Bennington College "… I was treated like an adult and
expected to act like one and, more importantly, work like one, that is
independently and quite a lot."
Consider the relationship
you have with your teachers. Is it similar to Ursula’s one? Would you like to
change it? What would you like to change most in your relationship with the
adults that take care of you?
Italian school system, one is not required to fulfill a FWT, that is to say a
Field Work Term related to your field of study, as you are required in the
States (page 61). What is your opinion towards this type of experience? What
could be the positive and the negative aspects of this kind of experience?
"stereotype" is a repeated opinion about the way an ethnic group, or a
particular people should live, behave, eat, entertain oneself, relate to the
others. Often this "unique" idea spreads, like "sound waves". Comments such as
"English can’t cook", or "Japanese always take pictures when they travel abroad",
or "Germans like drinking beer", or "Italians eat fettuccine and pizza".
Ursula is a bit influenced
by this kind of stereotype when she describes the Italians, at the end of the
chapter (page 65) "… Italians were talkers and whenever they could they seemed
to stop and talk to one another, while Germans had been quite introverted
people, silent even on a crowded tram. I noticed that in Germany everyone would
gather up on the sidewalk to wait for a green light. Even if there were no cars
around there was always a group of people on the sidewalk waiting. In Italy
though there weren’t even sidewalks or streetlights sometimes and people crossed
the streets whenever they pleased, before, after or in the middle of the traffic.
(…)" Can you find some truth in this description of Italians and Italy made by a
foreigner? What differs from a "stereotype" in Ursula’s description? What are
her feelings towards Italy?
Florence, February 1999. "How can you feel down in such an amazingly beautiful
place?" she wrote in her journal (page 69). Ursula’s love for Italy and a
culture different from her own, passes through all the senses: sight, taste,
hearing, touch, and the mouvement. Try and take down how Ursula perceives the
beauty around her (read again the text from page 69 to page 71).
Matteo. How do they meet? Take notes of the growing feelings in their
relationship (pages 71-95):
Same interest in cooking:
Transitions: Matteo in Bolivia:
Ursula at the University in Perugia:
Ursula wants to improve her cooking and her Italian:
Matteo comes back:
Travelling in Italy:
Travelling in the States:
Ursula graduates and buys a one-way ticket to Italy: