VICENZA, Italy – Students from the high school “Guido Piovene” of Vicenza spent a week at the Vicenza High School on post as part of an exchange program restarted after a two-year stop due to the pandemic.
“I can’t believe that one of my biggest dreams has come true: living the life I had only seen in films or TV series,” said Ludovica Mischiati, one of the Italian students, equivalent to 12th grade, partaking in the exchange. “I’m really grateful for this opportunity that helped me improve my English and open my mind,” she said. “This experience made me think about all the cultures in the world and how I love feeling part of it. Realizing how much I can change my lifestyle, my school habits and my language, just travelling a few kilometers from my home.”
The week-long event, held in mid-February, was planned in early September 2022 to bring back the multicultural connections between the students.
“Our last school exchange happened right before COVID-19 hit us all,” said Michela Ambruoso, VHS teacher of Italian language and culture who coordinates these events.
“Both American and Italian students were very excited. My students kept reaching out to me and asking to ‘have an Italian buddy.’ It is really heartwarming to see the excitement on their faces,” she continued.
Istituto Tecnico Economico (ITE) Piovene specializes in business, finance and tourism. During these field trips, Italian students have the opportunity to learn about the American school system, meet with their peers and speak another language.
“Our Italian guests were very grateful for the experience,” said Ambruoso. She feels that after the pandemic everybody is happy to resume life as normal.
“Events, experiences that we used to take for granted are no longer felt as so,” she said.
BENEFITS OF WEEK-LONG EXCHANGES
The teacher noticed how week-long exchanges have many benefits for both American students and their Italian counterparts.
“It goes beyond the evident language immersion: it teaches them life skills, and builds memories that will last a lifetime,” said Ambruoso. Indeed, students get to live a study abroad experience in their host nation or hometown, and at no cost to their families or the government, she added.
As the majority of Italian students who see the American school for the first time, ITE Piovene students remarked how the way of teaching is different if compared to the lessons they attend in their school.
“I discovered a world I didn’t know,” said Alice Bacicalupi, another ITE Piovene student.
Bacicalupi and her peers highlighted differences like the timetables, the rooms, the lockers and the subjects.
“I was amazed by the many projects that involve students, including clubs, sports teams and other initiatives that allow them to create a close community,” Bacicalupi said.
OPPORTUNITY OF SHARING SPECIAL ACTIVITIES
As part of the shared activities, a special event took place on Valentine’s Day.
“We enjoyed seeing the spirit of participation of all students while experiencing the ‘Healthy Heart Fun/Run Walk,’” said Benedetta Macchion who thanked the Italian teacher, all tutors and VHS students.
“They were very welcoming and helpful. Thanks to them we were able to live this experience to the fullest,” Macchion said.
Following the consolidated decade-old tradition of cultural exchanges, VHS plans to visit some local Italian schools in the spring.
“It was so great to meet some new friends this week,” said VHS senior Lauren Parker.
“I would love to visit an Italian school. It would help me improve my Italian language skills, to get to learn more about Italian culture.”