Portrait: Andrea, On the Move for the Children of the World
Today, we’re presenting another installment of our Babbel User Portraits – snapshots of their lives and their reasons for learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story with us, leave a comment. This time, we’d like to introduce you to Andrea Caschetto. This 24-year-old from Modica travels around the world helping children and is learning new languages in order to better communicate with them.
My name is Andrea. Travel has always been my passion. For me, however, traveling was never an end in and of itself. I’ve always tried to provide help in some way wherever I went.My first experience of this kind was when I was 16 – I was chosen to travel to Lithuania along with another Sicilian teenager by CONI, the Italian National Olympic Committee. There we were confronted by a reality far removed from our own: people with various mental and physical disabilities, young people in wheelchairs and people who had contracted HIV.
After that trip, I worked as the representative of my school together with an organization that dealt with youth sponsorships. I was already interested in such things back then and was selected as youth ambassador to visit an orphanage that the organization opened in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. At that time, I was 19 years old. The experience was a turning point in my life: It was then that I resolved to travel the world visiting other orphanages and helping children. I had already been to Kenya and Brazil, as well as Central America.
In 2013, I traveled to Costa Rica and used Babbel for the first time. I wanted to be able to communicate with the people I met. I knew that it would be difficult for me to learn a new language: I had an operation on my brain and since then have trouble memorizing words. I completed my studies by translating everything I had to learn into pictures. I was looking for a method that allowed me to study languages online and when I saw the Babbel Spanish course – full of pictures and with exercises for listening comprehension, pronunciation and review – I knew that I’d found exactly what I was looking for. More than anything, it was the pictures that helped me. I learned so much and even when my subscription ran out, I could continue to review and practice because everything was saved in my Review Manager – for me, it’s indispensable. In my opinion, it’s pretty clear why people learn better with pictures: If you look at a written page for five seconds, you’ll be able to remember one or two words afterwards, maybe a complete sentence. But if you look at a picture for the same amount of time, lots of details stick.
At the moment, I’m in Madras, India, -organizing educational activities for children. What makes me the happiest is that the kids immediately accept and embrace me. The center where I am helping is for children with mental and motor disabilities, which I didn’t know until I arrived, and I have toadmit that I was a bit worried. How do I keep them busy? Can I play with them? But I soon realized that I can do almost everything with them that I can do with other kids. We just have to adjust the activities to their requirements. To play with them and to see how they laugh and have fun is such a wonderful feeling.
The next stop is Brazil – I’ve already started learning Portuguese with Babbel. Since there’s no internet connection here, I downloaded the entire course to my iPad in advance so that I can learn anytime, anywhere.. This system is really practical when you’re on the move since you always have access to the courses, even without an internet connection.
I’ll stay in Brazil for about a month, working in orphanages. The schedule isn’t set in stone, though. Agencies keep contacting me through my Facebook page and I sometimes have to leave at a moment’s notice. Occasionally people that have read about my projects contact me in this way and offer me accommodations. And I’d also love it if a few Babbel users would get in touch! The best way to get to know a country and its customs is to live together with the locals. It would also be my dream to return to the Amazon rainforest. For me, it’s the most beautiful place on Earth.
I want to learn Portuguese so that I can better communicate with the children I’ll meet there. This is sometimes missing when dealing with kids. Of course, one always finds a way to play with children and to be understood – and that can often be a lot of fun. But if I could speak their language, I could give them a compliment or say something nice. In the end, the good thing is that even if I can’t find the right words, I can always just take them into my arms and know that my dedication to them shows no matter what.