I grew up in the New England region of the U.S.A., and have always been fascinated by foreign languages. From a very early age, I had my mind set on studying Italian. By the time I had reached college, I had decided to receive my B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) degree in Italian Language and Literature. During my junior year of college, I was lucky enough to study abroad for one year in Florence, Italy. It was a life changing experience, and I loved every minute of it. At the end of the program school year, I decided to remain in Florence throughout the summer and intern at a local museum. My work included translating the museum’s website into English and giving guided tours to visitors in both English and Italian. I returned to the U.S.A. in August of 2005, ready to start my senior year, and even more determined to graduate and return to Florence to pursue a career in the fashion industry.
The Language of Fashion
After graduating from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, I had my mind set on attending fashion school in Florence, Italy. After receiving a Masters in Marketing Management for Fashion Buying from Polimoda Institute in 2007, I began working for an Italian retail brand to get my foot in the door. I later moved on from retail, to work in corporate. For a few years, I worked within corporate settings in sales and merchandising for a few well-known international and local Italian companies in Florence. I was able to travel for work within Europe and the U.S.A. It seemed like an amazing world with many opportunities. I had achieved what I had set out to accomplish, but in the end, I always felt like something was missing. I wanted something more. Ultimately, I decided to leave the industry and pursue other personal goals. I haven’t looked back since.
From the City to the Countryside
When I left the world of fashion, I had recently had a baby and was focusing on my personal life. My husband and I had decided to move away from Florence and ended up buying a home in the Tuscan countryside. I was happy to slow down, be surrounded by nature, go for long walks and hikes. It was an ideal place to raise a family. One summer, my sister came to visit with her family and we were out to dinner at a local restaurant. The owner heard that we had been speaking English, and when he found out I lived in the area, he grabbed me by my hand and said: “Come, I have a student for you. Right this way, they’re having dinner now.” In my mind I was a little perplexed, but I went along to meet them. At the time, I really wasn’t even considering teaching English, especially with a young child at home to raise. We met, I said yes, and I had my first local student to teach.
From that first lesson, the restaurant owner continued to send students my way. Soon, by word-of-mouth students were contacting me for lessons.
Making the Transition from In-Person to Online
A couple years later, I had taken my daughter to a local play center, and again, the owner hearing that I spoke English, turned to me and without asking anything further said: “You’re American? I have a job for you.” Soon, I was teaching English once a week to a small group of seven-year-old students within the play center. I had a lot of fun. I was free to decide the activities and provide my own materials. The kids enjoyed themselves and always had smiles on their faces. I was thrilled to be making a difference in their lives.
Fast forward to 2020, and faced with the pandemic, I had to suspend all lessons in person. During that time, I had toyed with the idea of teaching online, but never moved forward with it. Then in September 2021, one of my previous students contacted me requesting lessons again, and we decided to continue online using Google Meet. Slowly, my students returned and even a few new ones had contacted me, thus beginning my transition to online teaching.
By April of 2022, I had applied to become an English tutor on the online platform GoStudent Italy. I was accepted, and had my first student shortly after. I really enjoy the flexibility and the freedom that the platform provides. GoStudent is always looking for ways to help improve the tutor and student relationship by providing informational training webinars, and the latest interactive teaching methods. I now have many students that I teach online, all from different academic and professional backgrounds.
Why I decided to TEFL
Prior to my teaching experiences in Italy, I had never really thought about going into teaching. My dream had been to work in fashion. However, seeing my students progress, and pursue their professional and academic dreams, gave me more satisfaction than anything I had done while working in fashion. I really felt like I was making a difference. I decided to TEFL because I wanted to complete my professional profile. I had been researching programs for some time, but none of them had really convinced me.
In October 2022, I finally decided to make the commitment. I was just about to purchase another program, when something in me made me stop, and I went back to The TEFL Org website, and proceeded with purchasing the 120-hour Premier Online Course. From day one, I was completely convinced about my decision. I enjoyed the whole process, refined my previous knowledge, and even learned a few new methods that I could apply for my online teaching. Overall, it was a great experience and really made the difference for me.
Jessica Lynn Parisi has a B.A. in Italian Language and Literature from Smith College. She also has a Masters in Marketing Management for Fashion Buying. She has a passion for Costume History, Fashion History, and Royal History.