Coordinated by Colleen Barclay, the event will be held at Aquinas College and will feature a rich program of talks, professional development, resources and networking, with guest speakers including university professors John Kinder and John Hajek.

The choice of the title isn’t accidental and reflects the vision of the association’s president, Laura Bava, who’s always ready to take on new challenges and opportunities with the support of an enthusiastic and receptive committee.

WAATI started the year strong, with an announcement on its Facebook page regarding its language assistants program, which suffered a sudden blow last year due to the coronavirus pandemic and is now being offered in an entirely new format.

For the first term of 2021, 12 Western Australian schools – including one primary school – will be supported by 14 Italian university students who will work remotely, for 20 hours a week, assisting Australian teachers with the preparation of resources, lessons and tutoring.

Three Italian universities are involved in the initiative: the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice; the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan; and the University of Milan.

All three institutes are thrilled to offer innovative internship opportunities to their students, who are currently stuck at home due to the severity of the pandemic in Italy.

Bava has been organising the program for years and worked tirelessly to find a way of ensuring its continuity.

“Something good has come out of COVID-19,” she said.

“I’ve always put my heart and soul into this project.

“I didn’t want WA students and the assistants themselves to miss such an important opportunity.”

The project was reinvented with the support of the WAATI committee, the Consul General of Italy in Perth, Nicolò Costantini, the AFMLTA’s president, Nathan Harvey, and secondary school teachers across the state.

Committee member Megan Delport was of great assistance to Bava in her endeavour.

New procedures and systems were created from scratch and the first Zoom meetings with the Italian students were arranged.

“It’s a breath of fresh air,” one of the teachers who will benefit from the program said.

The assistants are highly sought-after individuals who bring the latest trends in the Italian language and culture to the classroom, as well as cutting-edge methodologies.

It’s a reciprocal exchange which benefits both the teachers and assistants, and long-lasting relationships are often formed.

For example, Bava will welcome a former language assistant, who’d already participated in the program a few years ago, into her own classroom.

It will all happen virtually, from the other side of the world, but the experience will still be as invaluable as ever.