Two years in Livorno with Agorà
by Judit Sadurní
The very first time I went to Livorno was for a job interview at Centro Linguistico Agorà.
I had read about the city before, about its port and about the role it had in the economic expansion of Tuscany over the past centuries. However, I could not have imagined what the city had in store for me.
I spent my first morning in Livorno walking around the centre, from the railway station to Piazza Repubblica and from there to the heart of the city: Piazza Grande. I remember the sky was overcast, white clouds hovered above the rooftops covering that Tuesday morning with an oddly bright light.
I took pictures of the port, I marvelled at the sight of the fortresses, and I was amazed when I discovered that Livorno had its own Little Venice, full of bridges, churches and canals.
Halfway through my touristic stroll, I had to remind myself that the reason I was in Livorno was to find a job. And now I had discovered the city, I realised I really wanted to get that job.
I rang the bell at 64, Piazza Grande, punctually at the time agreed.
The job interview was not like any I had ever had before. For two reasons: the first one was that I was asked to simulate a lesson with real students (something that absolutely terrified me at the time, but which I have to admit was a good way of assessing a candidate’s teaching skills), and secondly because after the trial lesson I was offered the job right away.
Initially, I could not quite believe it. My Italian was not very good and I thought I must have misunderstood. But no, the job was mine if I wanted it. I knew what that meant: long commuting, lots of lesson preparation, and hard, very hard work. But it also meant working in Livorno, a city I had just had a crush on.
My job at Centro Linguistico Agorà was my first and only job in Italy. Before they contacted me for our first meeting, I had never received any other job offers nor prospects of an interview. The staff at Centro Linguistico Agorà were the only ones to take my CV seriously and to actually consider me for a position. For that and for many other reasons, I will always be grateful to them.
I learnt a lot working at Agorà. I had to get out of my comfort zone and because of this I gained lots of experience. I worked with little children, I tried myself in teaching teenage students at high schools, I taught English to the military, and so on.
Some days were not easy, but they certainly were manageable thanks to my colleagues at Agorà. And that is something that I think makes this language centre outstanding: Agorà treats their students excellently, always trying to live up to each individual’s expectations, but equally importantly, this school makes its staff feel at home.
After almost two years working there, my last day at Agorà was one of the saddest of my life in Italy. I remember saying goodbye to my students and to my colleagues, I remember the aperitivo downstairs and the warmth of the last hugs and goodbye kisses. Months have passed but my eyes still well up with tears when I think of Agorà and all that I learnt working and living there.
Needless to say, I miss the city of Livorno in the same way. The strangers talking to me at the bus stop. The hustle and bustle of Via Grande and its adjacent roads in the rush hour. The white and noisy seagulls flying over my head. The sight of the Duomo from the classroom windows. I know now that I will never take any of that out of my system. I know now that Agorà and Livorno have become main characters of my life memories.
For this, I could only recommend the experience of working there. I would repeat it a thousand times. And who knows? Maybe I will!