The Trust sends out feedback forms to students after their courses, asking them to assess their experiences in five categories, and evaluate them in a ranking from 1 (excellent) to 5 (very poor). The categories are: tuition; accommodation; liaison with our representative in Italy; contact with our student organiser in the UK; and reception at the airport by a member of the Trust. In 2012, the first year in which this process took place, the marks awarded were predominantly 1 or 2. Respondents had no suggestions as to how the bursaries might be improved.
The information will be used in future to build up a comprehensive data on our students so as to keep in contact with them and track their careers.
Over the years, although inevitably there have been minor hitches, the students’ experiences have almost always been positive. A recurring comment – especially if the young person has come from a remote, rural area and is making his or her first trip abroad – is that it has been a great opportunity to mature and become independent, and to savour British culture. (British weather and the cost of living in London, however, do come in for some adverse comment.)
The following messages, taken at random, give a flavour of how the students look back on their month in England:
“Learning English was essential as I’ve worked in several places abroad. A bursary enabled me to start this process of internationalisation that is really important, especially in small villages such as mine.” – Eleonora Diamanti, 2001.
“Our son Michele had “a precious experience at Oxford House and with the Francis family… we will tell everybody in our community how pleased we are about the opportunity you gave him.” – Carla and Dante Ronchíni, 2006.
“I enriched my vocabulary, improved my pronunciation and learnt some grammatical rules I had never met before.” – Gualtiero Ciabocco, 2008. (He was also struck by the British precision in time-keeping, compared with the more “elastici” Italians, and by the fact that cars immediately stopped for him at zebra crossings.
“Mrs Lydon [in London] was so friendly and kind, she cooked me good dinners and breakfasts… and she was conversing with me all the time, and that’s so good to learn English. I loved this experience and I loved London too.” Riccardo Antonel, 2009.
“What I remember best are the many trips at weekends organised by the school [in Wheatley, Oxford] and meeting young people from all over the world.” Chiara Poletti, 2010.
“It was a great experience for me and I hope it could be the same for others in the future. I’m going to Belgium now for my first job as journalist but out of Italy. I’m going to use English, so I hope for the best.”
Marta Scocco, 2012