Exchange students join NT

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This school year, 5 exchange students, through the AFS Intercultural Program, are attending New Trier. Two of those students are Seniors Marta Ravazzoni andCamilla Petrelli, who are from Italy.

Ravazzoni and Petrelli were introduced to the AFS program in different ways. Petrelli applied to the program after hearing about the it from her friend who had taken part in AFS in a previous year, while Ravazzoni’s father suggested the program to her after hearing about it at the pasta company where he works.

“Every year, [Barilla] offers two full scholarships for two students. I had never really thought about it, but when my dad asked me I was like, why not? So I competed for it and I won it,” said Ravazzoni.

Ravazzoni and Petrelli have already been in America for four months. When reflecting on differences between the two countries, they both agree the biggest difference is the school system and teachers.

“One of the biggest differences at New Trier is the relationship students have with teachers. We are not used to having such good, healthy relationships with our [teachers],” Petrelli said.

In Italy, the students are expected to know the material and be prepared to answer all the teacher’s questions without discussion.

“You cannot ask the teachers for help, you have to find help outside of school,” Petrelli said.

While Petrelli enjoys the extra help from teachers, she does note that it is hard to live away from her parents.

“The biggest challenge is getting used to being in another world or situation without your parents. This includes being prepared, like solving a situation by yourself without asking for extra help,” Petrelli said.

The students in the AFS aren’t able to choose which region they are sent to or who they live with.

“I could only choose the country and then they put me here and I really can’t complain about anything,” Ravazzoni said.

Nonetheless, both girls are very happy with where they ended up.

Ravazzoni’s host sister is junior Devlin Guthrie. Ravazzoni is very appreciative of everything the host family has done to make her feel comfortable.

“My host parents are very good people and they’re always available for me if I need something,” said Ravazzoni.

Petrelli was paired with a host mother during her time in America. She has leaned on her host mother for support, and remarked that some of her favorite memories while in the U.S. have been spent with her host mom.

The host families have been instrumental in making the transition easier while the girls met new kids at school.

“The biggest challenge was probably making friends, even though I think I got lucky. I really get along with the exchange students, of course, but I also have my own group of friends,” said Ravozzoni.

In order to get the most of her experience, Ravozzoni found out that the key is being open to all the new opportunities available.

“I’ve learned that you gotta get out of your comfort zone to actually live the whole experience. You can’t have prejudices because otherwise you’re not going to go anywhere,” said Ravazzoni.

“You have to open your eyes and enjoy everything around you, meeting as much new people as possible and live the moment.”