by Peter LoJacono
During this past March we at Hutch Tech have had a most unique opportunity in bringing a little bit of Italy to Buffalo for one week through an exchange of friendship, culture and goodwill that enriched the lives of all who had participated in this most rewarding experience.
It all began through a simple communication via "Napster" (of all things!) by our Italian Club co-President Richard Paris and a certain Mr. Gaetano D'Andrea, who we later learned to be Professor Gaetano D'Andrea of Liceo Fiani (High School) in Torremaggiore Italy (a small town located in the Puglia region of southern Italy). Richard referred the professor to our Hutch Tech Italian Club website.
While viewing the message board of our site I came across a message from Professor D'Andrea. Over the course of one year we corresponded via message board and e-mail.
Both his students and mine exchanged e-mails, and regularly dialogued on various topics in a unique 21st century way of cultural exchange by computer!
Furthermore, it was most comforting to have been the frequent recipients of messages of concern, compassion and solidariety after the events which changed our world on September 11th.
It was a mutual desire that our two groups should meet. We have been most fortunate to have had the opportunity to host our Italian friends for one week last March. Our Hutch Tech students and their families hosted the Italian students and Professor Giuseppe Gullo graciously hosted both Professor D'Andrea and Principal Cera. Tours of Buffalo, Niagara Falls and Toronto Canada inluding meetings with Mayor Masiello and County Executive Giambra were among the highlights of the trip.
A true testament to the success of this cultural exchange was clearly evident in the tears and sadness shown on the faces of both Italians and American hosts at the airport as both groups dreaded the final moment to say "arrivederci", goodbye.
We will forever remember in our hearts these wonderful people who brought with them from sunny Italy not only good weather, but also an incredible level of maturity, respect, intelligence and generosity so rarely exhibited these day by our youth. Liceo Fiani (Fiani High School) of Torremaggiore Italy can be most proud of these fine young people and a most distinguished Principal and a caring tireless teacher who doesn't just talk about things, but makes things happen in a very unassuming and modest way.
The twinning of our schools will hopefully form a long lasting alliance that will endure as long as our schools may exist.