By Lucas Rudy, USAG Italy Student PAO InternNovember 28, 2018
VICENZA, Italy -- On the evening of Nov. 21, Vicenza High School hosted Thanksgiving dinner for students and faculty from Liceo Scientifico G.B. Quadri, a local Italian high school, to educate the host community on American culture.
Twenty students from Quadri and eight VHS students participated in the meal, which was organized by the school's chapter of Italian Honor Society (IHS).
The dinner opened with comments from Garrison Commander Col. Erik M. Berdy, who welcomed the Quadri students with a brief speech emphasizing the value of cross-cultural interaction and praising the work of both schools in promoting this dialogue. Liceo Quadri President Paolo Jacolino also spoke, expressing similar sentiments and thanking IHS parents and students for hosting the dinner.
With that, the feast began. Students filled their plates buffet-style with traditional Thanksgiving fare of turkey, stuffing, cornbread and green beans, returning to seats to engage in lively discussion with their peers, whether it be in Italian or English.
Students chatted over their food about the differences in daily life between Italian and American communities, pop culture of the two countries, and future plans. After dessert, which consisted of apple pie, pumpkin bread and cookies, VHS students took the Italian students on a tour of the school, giving them an opportunity to compare school systems.
Lucas Ridgley, an 11th-grader, enjoyed interacting with the Italians at the event.
"I loved learning about the Italians' experiences, but it was also great to see them so curious about us," he said. "They asked us lots of questions about what it's like to live in the United States and what we like best about Italy."
This is not VHS's first time encouraging this type of dialogue between the host country and military community. Michela Ambruoso, high school Italian teacher and IHS sponsor who spearheaded the event, has been organizing school exchanges and visits since 2000. She places high value on these experiences, and said she believes we should be "building bridges" to promote cross-cultural interaction because "we are more similar than different."
David Macy, a senior and this year's IHS president, agrees.
"Italians often misunderstand Americans, and it's important to educate each other," he said, himself the son of an Italian mother. "I even have some Italian friends who ask if there are nuclear bombs on base."
Macy also emphasized the importance for Americans to understand their host nation and adds that viewing such cultural differences through the lens of their peers is essential.