Sophia Trozzo, from Laval to the Italian Riviera

Sophia Trozzo, from Laval to the Italian Riviera
Sophia relaxing with a good book and a cup of coffee during her visit to Montreal

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of profiles TLN will be publishing in recognition of outstanding accomplishments of current and former Laval residents in ventures at home and abroad. Today we feature the exceptional strides made by Sophia Trozzo, born and bred in Laval, now coordinating educational and cultural projects of international relevance and multinational importance. Here is Sophia’s story, so far, as told to Renata Isopo

Tell us about your love of writing

In high school I took every writing opportunity, co-editing the yearbook, and taking natural-fit courses like journalism. Journalism class offered a taste of what the trade demanded: non-negotiable tenacity, dedication, critical thinking and great writing. 

I was mentored by Renata Isopo, vibrant educator, consummate journalist, worldly, cultural, and fond of sharing treasures of wisdom and knowledge with students. I greatly admire her unapologetic unconventional philosophy of life. Having a teacher of positive influence at a young age, is a rare gift.  I don’t underestimate how this has continued to shape me throughout adulthood.

High-school journalism led to internship at Courrier Laval, first real insight into how journalists should conduct themselves professionally. I realized a great journalist of integrity requires more than great writing. You need tenacity, attention to detail, and strong ethics.

Editor John Fasciano taught me that essence and substance are central to fair reporting, that I should think deeply about what questions to ask, to understand if I was motivated by prejudice or ignorance or simply to extract truth from facts. I was profoundly struck by his editorial philosophy that it was crucial for journalists to exercise the dual responsibility of “getting the right story and getting the story right.” And that’s a lesson four years of Journalism school tried to teach me over again.  I had learned it at 18.

From Dawson College’s Honours Communication to Concordia Journalism, graduating in 2013 with Philosophy and Political Science minors. Study choices flowed from belief in thoughtful questions and genuine curiosity about the world.

I will always have Paris

At university, I spent a semester in France, studying Human Rights and International Relations at l’Institut d’études politiques de Paris Sciences Po, assisted by a Quebec government bursary for academic excellence.

Subsequently, I became digital project manager for MS Media, while tutoring English and Math at Oxford Learning. Creating a travel website, I published my photography and interviews with some of the world’s most extensively travelled people. At McGill University, I participated in the Women in House Program (2013), shadowing a Member of Parliament in Ottawa for a day,  leading to volunteer work for New Democratic Party MP Rosane Doré Lefebvre, (Alfred-Pellan constituency), doing data entry and French to English translation.

From two summers of teaching English to children in Italy and travelling extensively across the peninsula, I discovered deep passion for roots, moving to Italy for a career in education. Intending to continue teaching, I was offered private-school work in Rome, but declined when the company I had been working for offered full-time recruitment-officer responsibilities at Sanremo headquarters. Four years later, I am still International Recruitment Manager, based on the Italian Riviera. Since 2015, I have recruited 1200 educators from Canada, UK, U.S.A. South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland, for English summer camps in Italy.

It’s rigorous, demanding, fast-paced bilingual work, maintaining communication with international applicants and EDUCO coordinators across Italy. I deploy tutors to 200 summer camps country-wide, as the main point of contact for conflict management and general human resources.

Sophia Trozzo, from Laval to the Italian Riviera
Sophia visiting beautiful Laval’s “Centre de la Nature”

What do you love most about your work?

Sharing love of Italy with hundreds of people in summer programs, many of whom have never been here before, or come with certain stereotypes/expectations in mind, like the idea that only Florence, Venice or Rome are worth exploring. After summers in small towns in the mountains of Brescia, in the Emilia Romagna countryside, or sea-side in Puglia and Calabria, they gain entirely new perspectives.

I’ve had the joy of creating several teachers’ courses, including English literature, based in Oxford, England, performing-arts school visits to Sweden, a Multicultural London tour, and Italian cultural programs for tutors, taking place in the mountain village of Bajardo (Liguria). Since 2015 I have maintained partnerships between EDUCO and UNITED WORLD SCHOOLS (London based Charity), fundraising for their Myanmar schools. 

EDUCO and summer camps

A non-profit organization, EDUCO promotes student-centred learning through theatre/drama. Accredited by Italy’s Ministry of Education, EDUCO was one of the first in Italy to utilize theatre/  drama power within learning frameworks, spending11 years successfully teaching English to Italian children through our touring theatre-in-education company, TEATRINO and ‘Theatre-in-Education Days’ (‘T.I.E. Days’). Annually, 100,000 Italians take part in our English Summer Camps.

EDUCO recruits English-speaking actors, performers, musicians, tutors and trainers from all over the world; our ever-expanding team of collaborators work out of Sanremo, Milan, Naples, Rome and Sicily.

Our summer program, an introductory TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course, promotes performance and play. Recognized by the World TEFL Accreditation Association we’re also accredited the Italian government. Tutors attend a mandatory five-day orientation training course facilitated by our didactic team. Many are qualified teachers in TEFL, or CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), or pursuing education degrees. We focus on learning language through songs, games and drama-based activities. We assist Italy’s educational system, working with thousands of teachers on how to implement successful language acquisition strategies (games, workshops, songs, drama-based activities) in their classroom.

Assigning tutors to camps – north, south, and the islands (Sicily), EDUCO pays transportation and places students with Italian families who provide room, board, meals, and delicious cultural experiences.

Sacrifice…Why Italy?

La Bella Italia is much more complicated than a romantic summer of gelatos and gondolas. Prolonged time is needed to grasp how deep the problems run. To live here, you have to sacrifice high salaries. Wages are low, even for managers. I can’t complain, I’m much better off than many, but like others, I have to cope with overwhelming bureaucracy.

So why Italy? Because you can hop on a train, any direction, stop at any small town, find poetry. Because “slowness of life” is vital to memory, mental peace, true joy.  Because life is not linear, that you need to confront chaos in order to build order, and because I love a good maze.

The greatest sacrifice is not having family close. With my daughter’s birth, I understood and felt its impact more than ever. With much grace, my family accepted my move to another continent, with my daughter by my side. For this, I am truly grateful.