Italian exchange students get Elk Grove experience

*The print version contained an error in identifying who the coordinator of the Italian exchange program is. The coordinator is Effie Kalkounos, not Anna Glinski

Natalia Habas, Editor-in-Chief

For the 10th year, Elk Grove High School welcomed Italian Exchange students from the City of Termini Imerese, Sicily, on an exchange trip.

The Italian exchange students stayed in Elk Grove Village for 12 days from November 19 to December 1.

During their time in the United States of America, the Italian students were able to see some of what Chicago has to offer. They visited the Art Institute of Chicago, Downtown Chicago and several other museums.

The Italian students also experienced what it’s like to be a student in America. They shadowed their host students in EGHS classes for a full day and some mornings before going on other trips.

The Italian students also visited South Junior High School and Dryden Elementary School which both have Italian programs.

To be eligible to host an Italian student, students have to be in an upper level Italian class. Being in Italian Honors 3, 4 or Italian AP are one of the requirements for hosting an exchange student. Being in an upper level class gives students a “good fluidity with the language” Effie Kalkounos, an Italian teacher at Elk Grove said.

Students are also interviewed to confirm that they have the standards to host another student in their home. Space and privacy were some of the factors that determined their eligibility.

Grades, behavior and attendance were also taken into consideration when deciding if the student is eligible to host.

EG students and Italian exchange students were matched up based on their interests and hobbies.

Junior Gianna Geallis hosted Italian exchange student Isabella Liotta.

“For me, being of national heritage, it’s an opportunity to be able to see some kind of insight of where I came from,” Geallis said. “It’s really a welcoming and open environment where you don’t have to be afraid to make a mistake because it’s a whole learning experience for them and us,” she added.

Elk Grove students will travel to Italy over spring break. They leave the Thursday before the break and come back Sunday of the following week.

“It’s eye opening for people to go live in somebody’s home that doesn’t live just like you do,” principal Paul Kelly said.

Elk Grove students stay partnered with the same exchange student that they were partned with here during their trip overseas.

“It’s really a great cultural exchange between our Italian students from Sicily and our American students from Elk Grove,” Kalkounos said.