Bend Belluno Sister Cities Cultural Exchange

BEN ARRIVATA                   DI                       EVENTI                       SCAMBI                   METTE IN EVIDENZA              CONTATTO


                                              from Chiara in Belluno


I did the Exchange project in 2017!
                      I confirm that it has been one of the best experience in my life! I’m so proud of the  opportunity I took! I have so many good memories that I will always carry with me for my entire life. I would do this experience over and over again!
I’m always in contact with my host-family, especially with my host-sister Hannah!  I love them! I know that I have another home and and family on the other side of the world! 
Last year, Hannah and her sisters came to Italy for a trip, and they went to Belluno and they stayed with me and Maria for a few days! I was so happy to see them again!  And Hannah was to come to Belluno again this year in July, but hopefully next year!


                                          Left to right is Hannah, Tyra, Maria, Haley, Chiara
The situation of COVID-19 has impacted my life in a bad way.. I had the opportunity to do the project ‘’Erasmus+’’ for a semester in Barcelona, so moved there the 2nd of February,(and I was really happy)  but at the middle of March the situation  has worsened a lot, first in Italy and then in Spain, and for this reason I decided to come back home, but unfortunately Spain suspended the flight between Italy.  So I was blocked in Spain, without having the opportunity to go back home. and every international Erasmus student were leaving Spain as soon as possible, because Spain was not so safe.  I was panicking, so I bought a flight ticket to Bonn (Germany) because I have some relatives there, and I was thinking that I could go back home from Germany to Italy in 2 weeks. But they continued to cancel flights!!
I’ve been here in Germany since the 16th of March, and I can’t go home! ☹ I tried to contact the consulate and embassy, but they didn’t help me! I’m really discomforted..  The first flight should be on the 1st of June ( I’ve not lost the hope)  I’m in Germany because my boyfriend’s family work here from March to October! (but my boyfriend is in Italy ahaha)

My family in Italy is good, they have to stay at home all day, it’s a bit stressful, but it’s the only solution to fight the virus!  Karen, my host mum told me that in Bend the situation is better!

Yes it’s a bit sad, but I hope everything will be better! I have to be patient, the reason that makes me suffer the most is that I missed the opportunity to experience the Erasmus, but at the same time I'm happy to have lived it for at least a month!

Erasmus+ is a European project organized by all universities, and allows students to do a period abroad (6 months or 9 months) in another European partner university. In addition, Europe offers scholarships to make students more autonomous.  It is a great opportunity to discover new cultures, ways of living, thoughts, learning new language and growing.
The greatest gift that Erasmus offers you is the friendships that are cultivated during the months. you have the opportunity to meet guys from all over Europe and from all over the world!! It’s so incredible! I was very happy to share my culture with them! it made me happy to always discover new things, to be independent and to live differently. I think this project goes beyond taking classes and going to the university; you don't go to Erasmus just to study, but precisely, to discover the world little by little and get out of your shell and your safety and comfort zone.

Here in northern Italy. I have been reminded on a daily basis how this virus has controlled our daily lives.

It is now the norm when leaving your house to bring your declaration papers, mask, gloves, and for me my military ID before heading out of the house!  Mask and gloves are a priority in the local supermarkets along with a temperature check by security before heading into the store. Plexiglass dividers between cashiers and you for protection.

But, Hope is still here and another good sign of the dwindling Covid numbers.  PM Conte is opening up more commercial establishments next week. We will know more by May 18 when the new decree comes out. So for now, we can travel within the region for necessity sake.

That includes hiking..  you can hike with one other person outside your family but only 2 of you maintaining a social distance of 2 meters and continued wearing of a mask when you come close to other parties hiking 

First cappuccino in 3 months served in a take away paper cup!

Enjoying some freedom

Professor James Knox when he is not arranging music and Zoom conducting is visiting with Belluno DJ's

NOTE from webmaster - If you have made an exchange with our sister city, Bend or Belluno, we'd like to hear from you so we can share with others.  While there is no current in person exchanges we'd like to share your shelter at home story and if you are continuing to connect with your host and family.   Youth, culinary, music, running, swimming, rotary, adult or individual exchange.  Send email to  Grazie! 

                                               Angelo in Belluno

                                               February 23, 2020

                                               In these hours our Government is moving to total closure of to decrease mobilinty                                                     and so contamination opportunities ....

March 14, 2020

Promptly from observers of what was happening in China, we become day by day completely involved. 
First stopped the 28 of February schools, than limitation in meeting, invitations to avoid big groups, courses, seminars, etc...this last weekend we passed to the invitation to reduce non needed mobility, to having the first three provinces of our region being considered "red areas" (Treviso, just close to ours, Padova and Venice) and our Province were  excluded as the drawing that follows. 
Si we were still thinking in something that was a matter for others. 
But Monday  the whole Country becomes red zone until 3 April.

And in this week, we had to close gymn, swimming pools, ski areas, and most of activities. But until Wednesday restaurant open 8 to 18, so for bars and for most of work activities.
But promptly from yesterday only food shops, pharmacies, hospitals and the big factories open. Mobility from yesterday is allowed only for work, health and food reasons. And within own municipality. 
Also for a walk you must do it in the surrounding but with no one with you. 
We have to move with a paper in which we sign from where we are coming, where we are going and for which reason. If it is not true there is a penal fine. Not only economical. 
No possibility to stay by friends for lunches or dinners. 
And I believe that within this next weekend also all productive activities will close for at least two weeks, until 25 March.

We are all fine. Even if we had to reorganize all our daily lives. We closed all our activities. Only online meetings are possible.  Oscar and Coni had to cancel their marriage supposed May 1st. Also because all Chilean relatives were supposed to come, but now also in South America the Virus is spreading.

To all sacrifice and responsability is requested. This is the person's new challenge we are facing.
Surely we have to reconsider our habits, daily life, managing of earth resources.
greetings from all of our family (Ursula is blocked in her city until 3 of April....

March 15, 2020

This situation enforces the convinction that we are part of the same "home" and that no frontiers and walls can stop such "invasion"'
Situation in our Country is reaching the top, today it is supposed an increasing limitation of mobility statement by the government maybe stopping for some weeks also the main factories activities.
Yes, you are right, we are imprisoned in our homes. At Paluch we are lucky because we can at least do some work at our farm and being agricolture one of the few works allowed Oscar can work both at home and helped by us and at the farm of our cooperative.
From Tuesday we had to close our pools so also Manu and all of us are blocked both with our work and any sport activities. Only lonely walks are allowed or at least with others garanting the safety distance of one meter.
No meeting and any recreational, cultural, social, educative, etc. Activity allowed until 3 April. 
So time to reflect, to think, to read, to plan...

                               Maria from Belluno

It is really nice to hear from you. I am doing well, thank you. Although the new home routine can be boring sometimes and not having social contact is tough, I can not complain; indeed, I feel very privileged and if possible even more conscious about it in these strange times. 
I am really sorry for the students who were waiting for the summer to come to participate in the exchange, as I remember myself looking forward to it with huge excitement. 

I feel very glad to have kept in touch with all my host family. In fact, we have been exchanging Christmas gifts and greetings; besides, I am still currently keeping in touch via social media with Hannah and Haley, updating each other on our new academic lives. Last summer we also managed to see each other, as they were backpacking around Europe and took some days to come to visit me and Chiara.

Needless to say they have been very beautiful

days. Finally, I also kept in touch with Morgan

Thien, a very special friend to me, who I hosted

for some days back in 2018.
The pandemic has effectively impacted my life:

in fact, I was enrolled in my second year at

Ca' Foscari University of Venice, studying

Philosophy, when all of a sudden I found myself

back again at home with my mother (who is also currently at home teaching remotely), feeling as I had turned back in time. It was a heartwarming feeling when I got a text message from Haley, a couple days later, asking me how I was doing. In a time when I was forced to leave aside all my friendships and human contacts and scared for the how the future would look like, I recognized boundaries didn't really exist as I felt connected to people more than ever. 
What we are all experiencing is dramatic and challenging, yet it made me realize how connected we all are to each other, by all means.  I would like to conclude with a quote from an interesting article I have recently read, which has been written by Arundhati Roy and published on The Financial Times: 
"The pandemic is a portal. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it".

Bella Bend Beautiful Belluno

Responding to COVID-19 together, 

                                              from a distance

Yes, we are in touch with Luna and Chiara.  Both have been doing their online classes, and they appear to be significantly more challenging than what our education system is requiring.  Maybe because they've been doing it longer..  I interact with Luna's family about once a week, and they are getting back to work.  Luna told Pilar yesterday that she was finally out of the house to see her grandparents for the first time since this all started, so she was excited to be out. 

Lily and Pilar are just finishing their final AP exams, but are essentially done.  No more online classes.  They are missing their friends greatly, and we have to be all the more careful given that my 85 year old mother lives with us.                           from Susan - two time host mom

Hi!!! Now here shops and restaurant are opened and we have the possibility to go out but not in big groups. Unfortunately lessons are still online like the final exams that I'll have next month. I hope that next school year will be " normal" but I think it will be very difficult. I hope that also Lily and Pilar have the possibility to follow in-person classes, it will be better!!!           from Chiara in Longarone

                                               Eleonora from Belluno

                                               Thanks to this enriching experience I am now still in touch with both my first family,                                                   the Roberts, and my second one, the Sheffers, but also with Ilaria’s host, Anna Pollino, and Sandi and Kit Carmiencke. To all these people I am extremely grateful: they were all so loving and caring and we all had a great time thanks to their kindness. Most of them also visited us in Italy for some days, so we had the occasion to catch up on what was happening in each other’s lives and hug again. Sadly this will not happen this year because of Coronavirus. Anna Pollino was in fact ready to travel to Italy with a friend in May, but unfortunately there has been an unintentional change of plans. Until we can meet again, let’s hope in 2021, we are managing to stay in touch via text and email and we also exchange some letters with pictures of our towns

Even if in this hard time we can not travel and the students that were supposed to be involved in the youth exchange this year won’t have the opportunity to meet in Italy and Oregon, I am confident to say that Bend and Belluno will continue to build their friendship as sister cities and carry on the precious values of fraternity and equality that they have been teaching for all this time. Finally, I want to say thank you again to Rotary and to the host families for this adventure that we will always bring in our hearts and that allowed us to gain a lot in terms of perspective, knowledge and relationships. This experience contribuited to shape the person I am today, and I hope as many students as possible will be able to enjoy these exchanges. Waiting to meet again in Bend or in Belluno and staying with you during this particular times We greet you and wish you health and happiness.

Yes I'm studying law, I'm almost done with the second year. I'm really looking forward to come back, I'm applying for bilateral agreements of my university to do one year/six months in the US so then I can come visit everyone, especially if they send me to California that is close

Kacie Bohme of Bend

Clizia and host mom Shannon,

Thanks for writing, I'm in touch with my Bend family, they now live in California. 
I'm sorry about the exchange of this year, hope you guys can do it next year! I'm in Venice studying and working as a nanny to help a mom with her kids to study.

Clizia has been doing lots of baking during lock down.

I have been thinking about the students who would have been going on Rotary exchange this summer, I am so sorry that they are missing this opportunity. I am glad to hear your Rotary meetings are online now, my Rotaract club is doing the same and so are the other Rotary Clubs in Eugene! 

I am doing well! In June I will graduate with my masters degree in education at the University of Oregon. It has been a very strange final term, but I will still be able to graduate and be a licensed teacher! Finding a job is the next challenge. My family is still in Bend and they are healthy and staying in! 

I have talked to Anna Dal Magro throughout all this! We are connected on social media, and she has shared that she  and her family are healthy. She is a runner, so I think it has been a challenge for her to be limited in where she can run. She is very talented academically (focusing on languages) and it sounds like she is thriving in school! 

I just made Bruschetta with my roommate and was telling her how Sandi taught me to make it before we left for Belluno! ​

Nick Simcock is Belluno's Radio DJ and he was mentoring Leonardo (Italian who I was talking to this morning) as he had a few working moments at other radio stations outside Belluno.
He was also going into music at a Conservatory in Triste. I think that our conversations were general and we were able to discuss different ways of looking at the affect of COVID-19.
He also wanted to practice his English because Nick is originally from England.
Just another fun way to connect!
We talked about different pizza styles to drink preferences. All sorts of topics. Nice young man. We plan on talking again next week and perhaps others will want to schedule time to talk

Margo walking through her neighborhood with appropriate attire, mask and papers.

Lily and Chiara

​                     Luna and Pilar

Family's staying connected

Margo McDonald from Bend

Current school nurse in Ariano, Italy

Margo updated us several times a week during the worse of Italy's COVID crisis.     Here is current news from May 15,2020

Photo by Clizia on Rialto Bridge with no boats during Venice lock down

Members from Bend Camerata singing Ubi caritas by Ola Gjeilo.

"The Bend Choir, Oregon directed by Jim Knox, whom many bellunesi knew as visiting professor during his stay in the city with his beautiful family, inside the twinning between Belluno and Bend."     Marco Perale