Last year, six eighth-grade students from Saint Joseph of Cupertino (SJC), travelled to Copertino, Italy, as part of the first Copertino Sister City Student Exchange. Along with their teacher, Tricia Heissenbuttel, they spent 10 days visiting the sites in Italy and getting to know the local culture.
One year later, it was time to return the hosting duties.
Two boys (Nico and Giuseppe) and two girls (Francesca and Sarah) from Copertino, Italy, came with their Vice Principal, Lorena Luperto, for one week in California. The two student host families, the Ereno and Miller families, both had their eldest children travel last year and welcomed the opportunity to host the children who hosted their children. It was an opportunity to thank them for the generosity shown last year.
The visitors went to the tourist sites in San Francisco, attended the Saint Joseph of Cupertino End of Year Family BBQ, had a picnic day, ate at Benihana’s, went to Great America, and joined the eighth grade class at their annual graduation trip to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.
Although the visitors did not speak much English, Google Translate helped bridge the gap, and the universal love of music united all the students together. “Despacito” was a favorite of both host students and guests. A love of sports, especially soccer, also bonded the students.
The impact of these student exchanges can have a profound effect. Christina, one of last year’s exchange students who was a host family this year, mentioned the exchange program was life changing. In addition to getting the travel bug, Christina feels more adventurous and more confident.
In contrast to last year, when the American visitors were treated like rock stars, this year’s Italian visitors blended in like extended family. As host Mom Michelle Miller posted, “They came as friends and they leave as family.”