As part of a student exchange program, this week 19 Rye Neck High School students departed for Italy.
By Janice Llanes Fabry
As part of a student exchange program, this week 19 Rye Neck High School students departed for Italy. Italian language teacher Rita Carolini, who has run the program and accompanied the students since 1995, noted that this year the students were more prepared than ever to stay with families in Assisi.
“Social media has played a big role,” explained Carolini. Before crossing the Atlantic, the American students became well acquainted with their Italian counterparts thanks to FaceTime and WhatsApp, which allow them to text each other for free.
Sophomore Rachel Wurzburger remarked, “As soon as I found out my Italian student’s name, we texted each other. I feel like I know her and her family because we’ve talked so much. I know she’s someone I can count on and I’m more comfortable.”
The students will spend ten days immersed in Italian culture. “They’re not tourists,” emphasized Carolini. Rye Neck students will gain a true sense of what it means to be an Italian teenager by living with them and attending their school, Liceo Classico Properzio School.
In addition to living and breathing the culture, elevating their Italian language skills is an important objective. As Carolini said, “All the students have been studying Italian and they’re great, but they need to lose their inhibition to speak it. Achieving fluency is the last mountain to climb.”
Sophomore Kaitlene Tan added, “I’ve been taking Italian since seventh grade. As soon as I found out about this trip as a freshman, I’ve wanted to go. I know it’s a privilege, so I kept my grades up.”
From their home base in central Italy, the students are traveling with their Italian peers to Rome, Venice, and Florence. Next year, Rye Neck will host those same students on their visit to New York.