By Joyce Costello, IMCOMFebruary 22, 2013
ASIAGO, Italy- Science, math and history, English and Italian, may seem like vastly different school subjects, but for 16 Vicenza High School students and 22 students from Vicenza's Liceo Scientifico "G.B. Quadri," all of these subjects and skills came into play during a joint school trip to the "Colle Pennar" planetarium-observatory and war memorial in Asiago Feb. 5.
The two schools, which have been partnering in their language arts programs for the past three years, use the field trips as a cultural exchange in conjunction with intellectual stimulation.
"We have a student to student and teacher to teacher exchange program, but these programs are more than just speaking a different language," said Michela Ambruoso, VHS Italian teacher "It is also about being exposed to the language, the different cultural perspective, the different school approach and the friendship and relationship that comes with that."
From math teacher Roland Sturk's perspective, this was a way to meet one of the school improvement goals, to take number sense and apply it to a real world situation. For many of the students, though, this was a chance to see if teens from another country were any different.
"This trip was fun and it was interesting and not what I had expected," said VHS student Emma Knapp. "I think these types of trips are important because you actually get to learn what other teenagers in Italy are like by interacting with them."
VHS student Katie Claunch said, "I never have the opportunity to interact with Italian teenagers so this trip was an opportunity to feel more comfortable talking to Italian teens. I think it would be a lot of fun to take a weeklong trip to Rome or something with the Italian teens because seeing the culture and actually experiencing it beats just reading it in a textbook."
These sentiments were shared by Italian students. Silvia Spadoni, Liceo Scientifico "G.B. Quadri" student, who was been studying English for nine years, said she went to Modena last year with American students and thought the trip was a great opportunity for her to share opinions and meet different people while improving her English language fluency.
"Inside the school perhaps we behave very different, but outside I don't think there are many differences in how Italian and American teens act . . . we are all teenagers; we are the same," said Spadoni.
Fellow "G.B. Quadri" student Antonio Nicoletti echoed the attitude that teenagers are all the same and said he thought it was important for each culture to understand what each group thinks about the other in order to exchange opinions.
By the end of the field trip, new friendships and bonds were formed with teachers planning future trips together and teens planning to chat with each other online.