Saluda Elementary teachers Brandi Drake and Stephanie Fletcher are spending a week in Italy learning about the Italian culture and exchanging ideas with an elementary schoool in Carunchio.
The Saluda Sister City organization worked with Massimo Criscio, the Carunchio Sister City chair, to facilitate the exchange between the two cities. As sister cities, the communities and schools have worked together through the organizations since 2014 to foster communication and build bridges.
Drake credited Saluda Sister City for providing the connection, and Saluda Elementary Principal Tobree Mostel enthusiastically supported the Italy visit and created a process to select the teachers who would make the trip.
During their week-long stay, the teachers are spending time at Carunchio Elementary School, visiting with the Carunchio mayor and learning about Italian culture and food at Palazzo Tour D’Eau.
“I am so appreciative of the opportunity to have this experience to connect the communities and schools, and am hoping that our visit helps foster a long-lasting relationship between the two cities,” Drake said.
“This opportunity to serve as an ambassador for our school has been so surreal and unforgettable,” Fletcher said. “The students were overjoyed to meet us during our first visit, and we are enthusiastically looking forward to our additional visits to the Carunchio school. And, I cannot wait to get back and share all that we have learned with our students in Saluda.”
Criscio, owner of Abruzzo Cobus in Carunchio, is helping establish connections between the Saluda teachers and those in Carunchio.
“This has been a memorable experience, and we are so grateful to Sister Cities, Massimo, Judy and others who made this possible through the Gala held in Saluda,” Fletcher said.
The Venetian Carnevale Gala, held in February at the Orchard Inn, raised the funds to pay for the airfare and expenses of the teachers, including two nights at a hotel in the heart of ancient Rome. Orchard Inn owners Marc and Marianne Blazar generously donated half of their profits from the Gala, and additional funds were raised from paintings and other items donated by local artists and businesses.
Criscio provided lodging at the Palazzo, food, touring and cooking classes to the teachers.