Sicilian Exchange: Va Molto Bene! (Fall 2012)

By Marion Weeks

Benvenuti!At the beginning of school this year, Sturgis West students and families hosted 28 students, along with two teachers, from Liceo Scientifico “V. Romano,” a high school located in Piazza Armerina, Sicily, Italy.  The nine days that the Italians spent here is one-half of the exchange program that Sturgis West Latin teachers Wes Baden, Geneva Robinson, and Travis Andrade organized through Intercultura, Rome.  In April, during Spring Break, the Sturgis West students who hosted Italians will go to Sicily, where the same Italian students and now their families will host them for a week.

“I like any opportunity that students have to travel abroad,” said Wes Baden.  He added, “I especially like exchange programs of this type because students live with families, in their homes, and they experience life in a foreign country that’s quite different from merely traveling from one tourist site to another on a fixed schedule.  They come away with a real sense of what people are like and what daily life is like in a country outside the United States.”

Group Photo at Sandy Neck

Group Photo at Sandy Neck

BonfireWhile here, aside from time spent with host families, the Italian students and their teachers participated in quintessential Cape Cod activities.  On a light note, like tourists every summer, they played miniature golf at Pirate’s Cove, on Route 28.  They also climbed the Pilgrim Monument and went on a whale watching cruise out of Provincetown, and visited the Marconi area, Cape Cod Maritime Museum, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Plimoth Plantation, and historical sites in Boston.  Families hosted a number of social events for everyone participating in the exchange, including a lunchtime lawn party, a dinner party on Dennis Beach, dinner and softball at Woods Hole, and a farewell bonfire party at Sandy Neck.

“The host families were wonderful,” Baden said.  “They opened up not only their homes but their hearts to the Italians.  The exchange would not have been as successful as it was, without the families and all the support that they so generously gave.”

Trip to Pirates CoveIn April, during the break, Sturgis West students can expect comparable experiences in Sicily.  Students will become members of “la famiglia” and meet grandparents, eat meals together, go shopping at stores, and so on.  There will be dinner parties for students.  Students also will travel by bus to see historical and cultural sites, such the world famous mosaics at Villa Romana (just outside of Piazza Armerina), museums in Palermo, the temples at Agrigento, and the Greek theater in Taormina near Mt. Etna. Sturgis students actually will travel from one end of Sicily to the other and see quite a bit of the island, in just one week.  English-speaking Italian teachers will be guides on bus trips, explaining the history and significance of the various sites.

“In a future issue of Sturgis Soundings I want to share pictures of our visit to Sicily,” Baden said.  “Better yet, some of our students can describe their experiences while there.  And time will tell if our Italian hosts will surprise us with the Italian equivalent of miniature golf on Route 28.”

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