Ciao amici! The Severn – Lunardi Italian-American exchange program
by Victoria Decker '18
For the past 31 years, Severn School and our sister school I.T.C. Lunardi, in Brescia, Italy, have exchanged students in the fall and spring. This year, the students arrived on Saturday the 29th of October after spending four days in New York City, and with a busy schedule ahead of them for the upcoming week. All twelve girls were met by their respective American hosts on Saturday afternoon, with families such as the Stamatos, Widicks, and Cronins hosting for the second time in as many years.
After socializing with our Italian guests on the first night, it was clear that friendships were being formed between the two sets of students that would last a lifetime. It is safe to say that all of the Severn students were absolutely taken aback upon the realization of just how smart each Lunardi student is. Jane Huang experienced this first hand, conversing with student Sara Poli in Mandarin (Chinese) for several minutes after hearing about the Sara’s knowledge of the language.
The rest of the week for the students was filled with sightseeing trips, shopping, and traveling around the area. On Monday, the Italian students attended the Halloween parade at the lower school, and then returned to Teel Campus for a tour of the middle and high school. After Morning Meeting, students “shadowed” their respective hosts for the rest of the day. This was a good way to start their trip, allowing them to compare and contrast our methods of schooling to theirs.
Tuesday and Wednesday were both sightseeing trips, going to Annapolis and Washington D.C. In Annapolis, the students toured the State House and Naval Academy, and had lunch at Chick n Ruth’s on Main Street. For all of the Lunardi students, Wednesday was their first trip to D.C., where they attended a tour of the Capitol building, and saw iconic American symbols such as the White House and Washington Monument.
On Thursday, students attended advisory and shadowed their hosts for the first period of the day, before heading off to the Baltimore Aquarium. They then spent the rest of the day enjoying all that the Baltimore Inner Harbor has to offer.
On Friday, Lunardi Students attended the first half of classes before joining the Severn Community in morning meeting; there they talked about their favorite things in America, how our school differs from theirs, and their favorite part of the trip. They then went on a shopping trip to the Annapolis Mall, and reported back the fact that they have nothing like it at home. Later that night, the Italian students joined the Severn student section at the 24th annual Severn River Classic at St. Mary’s home field. The students enjoyed the “American” experience, and were happy to enjoy something completely different than what they have in Italy.
On Saturday, the magical week came to an end. The Italian students departed from Severn at 4:30 to make their flight from BWI at 7. There were many tears, hugs, photos, and promises made of reuniting in March in their hometown. Many Severn students (including myself) are counting down the days until March 12, 2017, when the Severn students fly to Brescia, Italy for our own immersion into a different culture.
This exchange program allows students from both Severn and Lunardi to experience life from a different point of view and in a different culture. It builds friendships that will last years, and makes us realize just how similar, and different, people can be with 3,000 miles between us. For anyone considering hosting or participating in the exchange program, I highly recommend it. The relationships built in that week are stronger than you can imagine.