Catherine A. Kelly, director of sales and marketing for Chicago-based Great Lakes Advisors, got a little taste of Italy, serving a slice of English to Italian school children.
As part of a program called Global Volunteers, Ms. Kelly spent two weeks with other volunteers teaching English six hours a day to middle school and high school students in Ostuni.
Located on the "heel" of Italy, Ostuni is a town where knowing English is crucial to students who need to compete on a "level playing field" with students from the richer northern half of the country, Ms. Kelly said.
In overcoming language barriers, she discovered creative ways of connecting with her audience and learned to think on her feet, she said.
She also heard the Italian viewpoint on the war in Kosovo. At one point Ms. Kelly was only 30 miles from a base of warplanes involved in bombing missions.
The trip couldn't have come at a better time, since she left her marketing and client services job of almost 20 years at Northern Trust Co., Chicago, on a Friday and was on the plane to Italy two days later. She joined Great Lakes Advisors soon after her trip ended.
Now, she'll focus on volunteering opportunities closer to Chicago: "I just need to find the right way to keep volunteering."