The short version
We are a group of friends under 30 who got together organizing a language summer camp in Orsago, a small rural village one hour north of Venice, Italy. Since then, we decided to build something bigger and more ambitious, and for that purpose we founded Associazione culturale “Why Not?”: a nonprofit organization with the mission of creating a bridge between local and global, by giving people the means to read and understand the world.
One thing we do is welcome young people from foreign countries into our community to teach English at our summer camps, thus giving kids the main tool to expand their interests outside of their country: a lingua franca. Unfortunately, Italian schools are not at all great at teaching English to kids (and it shows), so programs like these are very much needed.
We are growing and coming up with more and more ways to fulfill our mission: non-conventional language courses for adults, cultural entertainment and events for our community, and so on.
The long version…
An English summer camp has existed in Orsago for almost 20 years, going through different managements and changing fortunes. In 2013, we decided it was time for a radical change. With a desire to turn the camp into a fully professional service and to make it independent from local administrations and other organizations, we decided to reorganize our team and look for new people to help with our project. Camp 2014 marks a new beginning: more teachers, from even more countries, boasting richer, more diverse backgrounds; a new commitment to higher teaching standards; an ever-growing team of young, passionate people, each with something unique to bring to the party. The effort seems to pay off: our 2014 edition doubles its enrollment numbers compared to 2013, and 2015 reaches three digits – something unheard of, for language camps in our region.
At the same time, our team starts working to create more opportunities for cultural development in our community: everything from educational parties for kids to street entertainment, trying to build a year-round audience of people who are willing to support our project.
In February 2015, we are finally ready to make the “big step” and incorporate our nonprofit organization: Associazione culturale “Why Not?”. The name comes from a famous quote by Irish writer G. B. Shaw (the one you find on our homepage).
Our mission is stated in Article III of our deed of incorporation:
Our organization has the goal of opening individuals, families, and the community to the necessities of our current times, providing knowledge, skills and perspectives that may help them navigate an increasingly global world. We do this by means of an educational action, in the broadest sense, targeting the people who most need it (the young), but also those who are usually left out of it (adults and the elderly).
Activities promoted by the organization for the community include language courses, professional training, learning camps, creative workshops, seminars, cultural trips, gastronomical events, etc.
English is, of course, a big part of our action: not because we are anglophiles, not because “You wanna be Americano“, but because we believe in a global common language through which people can communicate and interact with each other all over the world, from China to Africa, from Iceland to Perú.
There are so many problems with how English is taught in Italian schools: too much grammar, too many rules, too little conversation, too little real world. This is a huge problem for our businesses, as well as for our openness to change and innovation. That’s why our courses try to stay as far away from the typical school experience as possible: we keep it fun, entertaining, interactive, practical. We then transpose this non-conventional approach to everything we do, because we feel it’s good for us and for our community.
Our strength is that we are a kaleidoscope of cultures, personalities and walks of life: some of us have worked in the States, some in Russia, some in Africa; some of us are psychologists, some teachers, some entrepreneurs.
Our team is united in its diversity, and despite our formal roles we all do a little bit of everything, consult each others on every decision, share knowledge and skills, measure ourselves with organizations much bigger and more important than our own, and grow up along the way. We do it because we want to have fun together, reach new professional milestones and enrich our local community, while learning something new ourselves through our relationship with the community.
Italian teaching assistant at Colgate University (NY), fondly remembers the camps he attended as a kid. Part of the team since 2013, first as a tutor and now as learning director, communications and HR manager.
A psychologist, joined the team in 2014. Since 2015 she curates an online psychological relief project, “Il baco da seta”. Within the organization, she is in charge of general planning and institutional relations.
A degree in Interpreting and Translation, runs a drapery and interior design business but has been teaching English for almost 10 years as a passion. Her role in the organization goes from logistics to public relations and creative direction.
Foreign trade specialist for a design furniture business, joined the team in 2013 first as staff member and then as a tutor. Her role in the organization focuses on entertainment and promotional activities.
Her professional life is split between her banking job and a parallel activity as singer and audiovisual technician. To the organization, she lends her expertise in performing arts and stage tech.
Team member since 2015, an academic background in education and years of experience in afterschool programs and summer camps. Within the organization, she is in charge of creative workshops.
Other than our “control room”, we have a numerous team of young people aged 16-28 who come from several different countries, educational backgrounds and industries. They are the real strength of our organization.