After a long day of travel and sleep, I had finally landed in Venice on June 26, 2014. As I glanced around the frantic airport parking lot, my eyes were drawn to the beautiful styles and individuality that each of the Italians possessed. I was mesmerized by the intensity and speed in the way they spoke to each other; I would soon discover that this contradicted their unhurried nature, and I began to imagine this lifestyle as my own. As I embraced my new surroundings, my glance landed on a tall girl with big, brown curly hair: my host sister, Carlotta. Smiles emerged on our faces, and I ran up to finally introduce myself with a hug. She acquainted me with her parents, who greeted me excitedly with open arms and cheek kisses. I already felt at home Before I left, my parents warned me about my journey on the Belluno exchange: “It’ll be awkward at first, you’ll be nervous, and you’re going to feel homesick.” They were almost always worried and this was something that I had picked up from them. I, too, was concerned about missing home and facing the unknown. However, I soon
Crater Lake and the city of Portland. For some of the participants there was also the opportunity to visit some places in California with their host families.
On August 12, the guys attended the unveiling of a plaque in the Old Mill District of Bend, which visibly commemorates the partnership between the two cities, officially signed in 2013. However, the project had started in 2009 thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Bend and Belluno, who, in order to promote the exchange between two cities which share so many natural and environmental characteristics, have made possible the birth of the twinning Committee - Sister city between Bend and Belluno with the slogan "Bella Bend - Beautiful Belluno" by launching the first young people exchanges.
In 2013, Ursula Paganin (20 years old) and Zara De Min (27) had spent a month in the city of Bend doing voluntary work, the former teaching swimming and the latter Italian, while in the summer of this year it was the eighteen-year-old Andrea Alpago Novello's time to spend a month there doing environmental protection activities.
All the activities of the Youth Exchange were organized and supervised by the respective committees of the two Rotary Clubs, that, through email exchanges and interviews via Skype, were able to monitor the progress of the exchange in all its phases. Special attention was paid to any difficulties of adaptation on the part of some of the young people facing different cultures and customs. Of vital importance to the realization of the experience was the friendship between the various members of the two committees as well as the positive experience of working together on other projects.
The whole activity was joined to District 2060 thanks to the support and experience of Andrea Pontarolo, whose name happened to start with the letter A like the other distinguished members of the Belluno Rotary Committee involved in this exchange: Alberto Alpago Novello, Alessandro Bampo, Adriano Barcelloni Corte, Angelo Funes Nova and Angelo Paganin, not to mention Roberto Bianchini whose name, instead, begins with the letter B like the exchange logo: Bella Bend- Beautiful Belluno.
discovered that none of my parents’ or my own fears would come true. When I first arrived at my new home in Farra d’Alpago (a short 20 minute bus ride from Belluno) I walked into the stucco house and through the living room, passing countless potted plants and vases of orchids. I sat at the table on the patio awaiting lunch, looking out at the calm, glistening lake of Santa Croce. Carlotta was cooking in the kitchen when her parents joined me outside. This was an everyday routine; Carlotta prepared lunch, and her parents arrived home from work to have a sit-down meal as a family. The Italian culture is extremely family-oriented, and this was something that made me feel like I was already part of their home. They were never in a hurry to return back to their jobs, and they had a sense of constant bliss that I envied. I embraced this worry-free lifestyle for the duration of my stay. One of my favorite weeks consisted of walking through the cobblestone streets of Rome with only my host sister for company. It was Carlotta’s first time in Rome too, and as we explored The Vatican and climbed to the tallest row of the Colosseum I gained an unforgettable feeling of freedom. It was my first time in such a hectic and big city, so navigating through the busy streets with only a map and my intuition was a challenge. Getting lost in Rome was stressful at times, but it also made for an exciting new adventure and helped me build a new sense of confidence.
The partnership between the Belluno Rotary Club and the American city of Bend, Oregon, continues to grow. In fact, in addition to a shared project on behalf of the "outcasts" in Chennai, India, the two clubs are collaborating in the young people exchange which has been very intense during the summer.
From June 26 to July 25, four girls and a boy from Bend, aged 16-17, were hosted by five Belluno families with kids of the same age. According to this program the five guys from Belluno flew to America to live the same experience as guests in Bend of the American families from July 25 to August 23.
The itinerary for the weeks spent in Italy for the young Americans Morgan, Emma, Tully, Zoe, Christa was very intense. In addition to the proposals of the individual host families, with trips to Verona, Treviso, Jesolo, Florence, Rome, Croatia, they took part in visits, organized by the special Rotary Commission, meant to foster a "team spirit” among the young people, the families and the Rotary members who participated in the numerous events on the calendar. After a settling-in visit in the town of Belluno just after their arrival, they had the opportunity to discover Venice and Cortina, to make a tour of the Dolomites and also to visit the place of origin of their host families: Alpago and the Cansiglio Forest, Limana and Valmorel, Feltre and Pedavena.
Among the "institutional"events were a reception at the Red Palace by the City Council of Belluno, represented by Councillor Simonetta Buttignon, the presentation of the exchange one evening with the delivery, by the Rotary President Giorgio Turi, of a plaque and a T-shirt specially made to celebrate the youth Exchange. There was also a trip to Valmorel, dear to Dino Buzzati, in late July, with all the members of the Club for a day outdoors, including a visit to a mountain dairy and to an educational farm. Even the weeks spent in Oregon by the five young guys from Belluno (Anna Canova, Camilla Caviola, Martino Da Col, Sara Paganin and Carlotta Spinazzè), were no less intense, with visits to the natural beauty spots surrounding the city, such as the Bachelor and Sisters mountains, the great
Twinning Belluno-Bend "IN THE NAME OF THE YOUNG"
Summary of our 2014 Youth Exchange Published in the Rotary District 2060 Newsletter translated by Fiorella Da Col
Morgan - Highlights and Discovery of the 2014 Bend-Belluno Youth Exchange
Two and a half years later Jerry and Dona, Morgan's father and his wife visit Belluno and have lunch with Carlotta and her parents Susanna and Roberto. While the parents didn't speak the same language they had much to share about their daughters who were now both a part of each family. Later after a great pizza Jerry and Dona had a quick walking and historic tour of Belluno guided visit by our expert Marco Perale. In photo Angelo acted as host and able interpreter.
My time in Italy helped me to discover that the future thought of stress and worry often doesn’t come true. Upon my return, I have continued to sustain the lifestyle that I possessed in Farra d’Alpago. I’ve slowed the pace of my life and have become more mindful of my fears. I have also embraced my newfound independence, as have my parents. It has also given me a lifelong friend who is part of a completely different culture than my own. Carlotta and I still keep in contact and I’m always excited to hear about her future plans for college and travel. As I look back on my trip now, while I am graduating from high school and soon entering my first year of college, I realize that I have this exchange experience to thank for putting the travel bug in me. Traveling on my own gave me a whole new sense of confidence in myself and maturity which I couldn’t have obtained otherwise. I will be attending a small college in upstate New York and, because of my wonderful experience in Italy, I have decided to spend my first year
studying on their branch campus in Florence. I am so excited to return to Italy and visit my host family again. Overall, my exchange experience has brought about a desire in me to see all the parts of the world that I can. Embracing another culture and learning how other people live in different parts of the world is an experience that is truly invaluable. Although I will be far from home in both Italy next year and New York in the future years to come, I know I will take advantage of exploring new lifestyles and new places. My trip to Belluno helped change me in a way that has altered me forever.
BEN ARRIVATA DI EVENTI SCAMBI METTE IN EVIDENZA CONTATTO
Morgan - and the Exchange Grows