Take Ten Reflection by Elizabeth Kenney


The Leaning Tower of Pisa

As I said “Arrivederci” to my Take Ten class of third graders last December

before embarking on my semester abroad in Rome, Italy, with wide-eyed wonder

they questioned me about Italy. One student sitting in the back of the classroom shot

out of his seat and emphasized each word with passionate hand gestures as he told

me, “You have to go to Pisa!” He excitedly chattered on about the Leaning Tower of

Pisa as the rest of the class pointed out facts they had heard about Italy. While the

students chitchatted about the sites and bits of history they knew, one student in the

front of the classroom sat quietly, with a bewildered expression. He looked up at me

with a skeptical expression and asked, “They have a Leaning Tower of Pizza?”

I will always remember this moment from my Take Ten experience for a

couple reasons. This moment captured the adorably inquisitive nature of children.

These students want to learn and do not hesitate to speak their minds. After each

session, I always leave the classroom with a smile on my face, feeling refreshed and

touched by my interaction with them.

At the same time, this moment demonstrated the root of miscommunication.

While the student in the back of the room said “Pisa”, the student in the front of the

room heard “pizza”. In situations like this, the misunderstanding is merely comical.

However, as Take Ten teaches, in more serious situations, miscommunication

can lead to conflict. Therefore, the program stresses the importance of clarity

and understanding. Being aware of what and how one says something and

thinking about how another might perceive this illustrates the keys to effective

communication. This communication needs both awareness of oneself and

knowledge of another’s perspective. In order to reach this understanding and

communicate clearly with one another, we can all take a lesson from the student in

the front of the room. Rather than simply accepting this statement, even though it

did not seem correct to him, this student spoke up and asked for clarification. He

used his communication skills to come to a better understanding of the truth. Now,

he knows that the Italians eat their pizza, rather than utilize it as a building material.

Visiting with these young students each week as a Take Ten volunteer

has become an invaluable part of my own experience as a student at Saint Mary’s

College. Not only does my involvement serve to educate and empower these

students, in return, they inspire and motivate me to reach higher and achieve

greater. Learning about the issues, big or small, that these students face in their

daily lives and witnessing each of their unique (and amusing) personalities

encourages me to grow and become the best version of myself. It demonstrates the

importance and blessing of community. It reveals that we each have a responsibility

to care for and uphold the community that we live in.

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1 Response to Take Ten Reflection by Elizabeth Kenney

  1. Michael Kenney says:

    Beauty abounds in the simple, everyday! These students are fortunate to have such a caring, wise college visitor/role model. And Elizabeth wisely recognizes that she too benefits by humbly and patiently listening to and inspiring the next generation. A beautiful story. Indeed, a truly value added education.

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