Plainville High School Welcomes Visitors From Italy
Plainville High School students and staff recently welcomed a group of 15 Italian students and their chaperones from Italy as part of the Tuscan-American High School Exchange Program. (The exchange program is under the auspices of the Tuscan-American Association and Lynn Wiechmann). According to Plainville High School English Teacher and program Co-Advisor Christine Nuzzolillo, this is the fourth student exchange, which is done bi-annually. Plainville students are scheduled to visit their Italian counterparts in April 2008. "The program has been marvelously successful and both the Plainville students and the Italian students have had a wonderful time," noted Nuzzolillo. "The fact that we have students who are involved for a second time truly speaks to their positive experiences." Jen Kohl, Math Instructor at Plainville High School, and Co-Advisor of the exchange program, assisted in the planning and coordination of the visit this year. "This is a great experience for both the Italian and American students to better learn and understand how different cultures work and interact, and to see how their lives are similar and different. The students have great conversations about everything from styles to school days."
A critical component of the program is the home study. As such, the Italian students are placed in host homes with Plainville students for the duration of their stay, and when the Plainville students visit Italy, they will stay with the same host families in Italy. While in the United States, the Italian students attended classes at Plainville High School, and visited a number of local and national sites including Boston, New York City, the Connecticut State Capitol, Mark Twain House, and the Plainville Fire and Police Departments. "Our Italian visitors especially loved the visits to the local Police and Fire Departments," noted Nuzzolillo. In addition, the students participated in a joint curriculum project, as well as a group activity under the direction of Plainville High School Art Teacher Michael Richters, to create individual computerized caricatures.
Italian faculty members Stefano Lagomarsino and Luisa Barlettai accompanied the Italian Exchange students, serving as chaperones on the visit to the United States. "It has been wonderful – we appreciate everything done for us here. The warmth of the American colleagues is wonderful and we are extremely happy to be here. The visit is very important for the improvement of the Italian students' English language – even if students are shy, they try hard to speak English and are very lucky to live this experience because they are enriched on a cultural level," noted Barlettai.
Approximately 15 Plainville students are involved in the exchange program and have unanimously endorsed the experience as a positive one. "I offered to serve as a host the first time at the spur of the moment because they needed a host family. I had a great time, went to Italy, and signed up immediately to participate again this year. I loved living in Italy last time, not just being a tourist, but actually living with an Italian family and learning about family life in Italy," stated Plainville High School student Sarah Tanner. Senior Emily Derevere, a second time participant in the program, noted that it is a big commitment, but it is also fun and the Italian students and teachers are great. "When we visited Italy last time, we found that education was very different – high school students attend school for five years and don't switch classes like we do. Also their school day is shorter, but they attend classes on Saturday." Plainville student Christina Cavallaro added, "This is my second year participating in the program and my first year hosting. I liked going to Italy because we could have never experienced the culture so deeply." Senior Ray Guarino said that as a participant in the exchange program, he enjoys the opportunity to share information about the respective cultures and learn the similarities and differences. "It's great to discuss our cultures because we have different histories and practices. One example of a difference is sports – there are no organized school sports in Italy. We also have many similarities such as the way we interact socially, which has made it easy to communicate, even with the difference in language."
The Italian students also expressed their excitement about the visit to the United States, and their experience in the exchange program at Plainville High School. Sebastiano Masini, a first time student visitor commented, "the United States is very different than Italy. In Italy we go to school later and go home earlier, and we eat our meals later. I have enjoyed Plainville very much, including the school sports facilities." Italian student Fabio Buralli, who is staying with Plainville High School student Chris Varano, noted, "It has been a very good experience, staying together." Varano echoed the sentiments of his Italian counterpart adding, "I am very excited to be participating this year. It has been amazing to serve as a host and I look forward to our visit to Italy in April, to spend time in the schools and with Fabio."
Plainville High School Principal Greg Ziogas has also been pleased with the exchange program. "I have participated in the last two exchanges with my wife Connie. The relationships, the sharing of values and cultural similarities and differences are huge factors in making this exchange program successful. Tina Nuzzolillo and Jen Kohl have done an exemplary job of making our exchange program one of the best," noted Ziogas.
"Many of the students discuss their desire to have international experiences. This is a wonderful example of how our students learn to interact with students of different cultures," added Superintendent of Schools Kathleen Binkowski.
-Posted on October 26, 2007 at 03:46 PM
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