Italian foreign exchange students to visit Blair

Oct. 11, 2006, midnight | By Andrew Kung | 17 years, 1 month ago

Eleven students and two teachers to arrive Oct. 9

Guests from the Liceo Giordano Bruno, a high school in Rome, Italy, will be visiting the Blair community from Oct. 9 to Oct. 19. Two teachers and eleven students, of which ten are female and one is male, will spend time as part of a foreign exchange program led by the International Studies academy.

The exchange students will stay in homes of volunteer host families from the area, having Blair students serving as their guides to America. They will attend two to three days of classes with their hosts and visit Connections and ESOL classes. The exchange students are 16 to 18 years old and at an education level equivalent to juniors and seniors at Blair. Although this visit will be their first time in this country, all the students are fluent in English.

According to Kevin Moose, head of the International Studies academy and the sponsor of this event, the purpose of this trip is to introduce a unfamiliar culture to the community and make new friends. He hopes to have Blair students discuss current issues with peers that have an entirely different view of the world.

"We live in a day and age where we must get smart about the world around us," he said. "It will be interesting to see things from another perspective."

Besides attending classes for two to three days, the students will take part in other activities in Blair, like attending the homecoming football game and the homecoming dance. The visitors will also spend two to three days sightseeing downtown, highlighted by an Oct. 10 ceremony at the Italian embassy. A quick visit to the Lycee Rochambeau, the French International School hosting some of the students' classmates, and a weekend trip to Williamsburg are planned as well.

The entire event started somewhat serendipitously at a local Starbucks. Moose, who once lived in Italy, overheard the conversation of a retired State Department official's wife. An exchange was forged, snowballing into an extensive correspondence with the Liceo Giordano Bruno that is pinnacled by this trip.

Moose says Blair students can help by creating a positive environment and welcoming the exchange students with open arms.

"We want them to feel welcome and have a positive experience at Blair," he said. "Feel free to say 'Ciao' if you see them in the hallways."

Moose hopes that this exchange program, in its first year of existence at Blair, will become a regular event and possibly an annual occurrence, with opportunities for Blair students to visit other countries in addition to hosting foreign visitors, with a possible trip to Rome next year. He has contacts in Turkey and Germany as well and hopes to establish a long-term program with the International Studies academy.

"This is an exchange program, not just one way," he said. "We want to do this as often as we can."

Andrew Kung. Andrew Kung is a rising Magnet junior who is psyched for a year of Chips Online. He has lived in New York, Michigan, and New Mexico prior to his current residence in Maryland. As a cynical sports fan, he is not often disappointed, but not … More »

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