The Burrow: Ci sono i libri di Harry Potter qui?

by Lorena

I am a very avid, dedicated, and slightly (by that, I mean extremely) obsessed Harry Potter fan.

Two years ago I began studying Italian by myself. I had recently signed up for a school trip to Rome, Naples, and Capri for Spring Break the following year. Well, I guess it was more like forced my way into a school trip to Rome, Naples, and Capri. The trip was open to Latin students; I took Spanish, but I wanted to go to Italy so badly that I pestered (by that, I mean asked politely and calmly) the Latin master until he agreed to allow me on the trip as well. So that same day, I began my Italian studies. I learned everything I could, and I was completely determined to speak to as many people as I could when I went to Italy. Any moment that I wasn’t doing schoolwork or playing tennis or soccer (or socializing), I was stuffing all the Italian vocabulary, grammar, and phrases into my head as physically possible! A full year and a half went by and, I must say, I was pretty proud of my level of Italian. Then the day finally came when the fourteen others on the trip and I took a plane to Rome! I was very calm on the plane (by that, I mean I was practically bouncing out of my small coach-class chair). During the plane ride, I amused myself by thinking of the best souvenir to buy myself. The answer came eventually (by that, I mean about two seconds into my private, silent conversation): A Harry Potter book in Italian! What better way to learn Italian than by reading the English words I have already memorized written in Italian? Brilliant.

My first few days in Rome went by in a blur, but I ran into one devastating problem… Once I found myself in Italy, I was terrified to speak to anyone. I was so worried that they would think I was a stupid American who couldn’t speak Italian to save her life. I knew I could speak well, but I was too afraid to show that to anyone else. Although I was thrilled to be in Rome, seeing wonderful things like the Trevi Fountain, and eating gelati everyday, I always had the underlying sadness that was my reluctance to speak to the Italians weighing me down.

Then, one day, walking back to my hotel, I caught sight of a very large book store (or, libreria, in Italian) down one street. Despite the fact that I was not speaking Italian, I was still determined to buy my special souvenir. I entered the bookstore, and was surrounded by Italians. It was not really a bookstore meant for tourists, so nothing was written in English and the store was enormous. I had come this far, and I was not giving up! I walked, determinedly up to the first cashier I saw and asked, “Mi scusa, ci sono i libri di Harry Potter qui?” which means, “Excuse me, are there any Harry Potter books here?” My heart was pounding, I was perspiring significantly, and I was short of breath, but I had asked him in wonderful Italian! He suspected that I was American and responded, slowly, in Italian, that he would show me where they were. On the way, he asked me, in Italian, if I enjoyed the books. It was lucky that I was such an avid, dedicated, and slightly (er, extremely) obsessed Harry Potter fan, because I forgot all about being afraid and I struck up a wonderful conversation with the cashier about the first five books, our theories concerning the sixth, and the excitement of midnight releases! It was, in all honesty, one of the greatest moments of my life.

That day I bought Harry Potter e L’Ordine della Fenice and I have worked my way through almost all of it. But more importantly, Harry Potter helped me overcome my fears and inhibitions in Italy. I never would have been able to find the courage to speak to that cashier if I had not been, at first, so determined to buy that book, and secondly, so enthusiastic about the series. And on top of all that, I now have an awesome new addition to my small collection of Harry Potter books (by that, I mean two hardback copies of each American edition, paperback of the American first, second, and fourth, the British editions of the first and second, a French edition of the third, a Spanish edition of the fourth, and now, an Italian edition of the fifth)! This just proves to me that the Harry Potter books are educational in many more ways than simply causing more and more children to read. They are now giving teens more confidence, and teaching foreign languages as well!