Tullia Ascari is a teacher of  I.S.S: M.K Gandhi (Besana in Brianza, Italy). She accompanied a group of students during the second mobility  (Madrid 2019).

I am Tullia Ascari, professor of tourist geography at the I.I.S. “M.K. Gandhi” of Besana in Brianza. Our Institute has only been running the tourism course for a few years and we immediately felt it was a valuable opportunity to participate in a professional experience in the tourism sector to be held in an EU country. In this way we were able to propose to our users, since the first years of establishment of the tourist course, a high quality training experience.

What were the qualifying aspects of the experience? First of all, as it should be in any professional internship experience, the students have been able to concretely experiment, with practical activities, the theoretical knowledge previously acquired in their school curriculum: the knowledge of the dynamics of tourist flows and the characteristics of urban and cultural tourism in tourist geography, the language skills in Spanish and English with particular reference to the micro-language tourism, the management of tourism business and relations with customers in tourism economy. In this sense, the training proposal has proved to be consistent with the path taken previously, allowing students to acquire greater awareness of the professional choice made, the challenges that it implies and also the rewards that it can give. A good follow-up in terms of future motivation can easily be foreseen for the group that has carried out the experience; all the students have declared to have increased their self-esteem and confidence in their ability to enter productively in the sector and in the world of work in general.

Beyond the purely professionalising aspect, however, it seems important to me to emphasise the value of experience in terms of human and personal growth for the students. The fact of experiencing oneself in a new and different context, in a foreign language and culture, and the need to manage the normal daily tasks while for the first time one is immersed in a working and non-school environment, together constitute a very stimulating test that the students found themselves facing with the sole help of the training agencies involved and the teachers present. They therefore had to carry out those tasks of autonomy, decision making and problem solving that they will have to deal with many times in the future.

From this point of view, the reality of Madrid was a really good context for the training experience, because of the good organization of urban transport services and the strong and growing demand for tourism, oriented by principles of technological innovation and sustainability.

The role of the tutor teacher has been that, in such a new context, to support the boys with a known figure and of reference. For the above reasons, I believe that it would be useful if the teachers of each class group followed their students throughout the period, and that at least two tutors were always present; for me, in any case, the contact and knowledge with the students of different Italian schools and different paths was positive and constructive. My effort has been, in this specific case, oriented to encourage socialization between different groups, trying to give them tools and create opportunities to overcome prejudices and stereotypes, and I hope that at least in part has succeeded. I think that not only those who want to work in the tourism sector should be particularly open and curious about other cultures and worldviews, but also that this is one of the most important challenges for the new generations, and the Erasmus training experience provides young people with a unique opportunity in this regard.

Tullia Ascari

Translated with DeepL