Flying for Friends

This Thanksgiving break, seniors Maya Johnson, Ance Trapse, and Sierra Smith traveled to Italy to reunite with a previous foreign exchange student, Chiara Moni.
“It was weird at the beginning because I’m used to hanging out with Maya, ance and sierra in California,” former TOHS exchange student, Chiara Moni. “Having them here was amazing. I’m glad they met my family and my friends.”
The seniors left on Nov. 21 and returned on Dec. 3. The first weekend in Italy was spent in Rome, where the three saw the Colosseum and Vatican museum, along with several other local and tourist attractions.
“It was interesting to see all the architecture and artwork I learned last year in Art history,” Senior Maya Johnson said.
After spending the weekend in Rome and meeting Moni’s parents, they traveled to Florence, more specifically Montelupo Fiorentino, where they would be staying for the week.
During the first day in Florence, the four explored the city and saw central landmarks like the Duomo.
“There is a Duomo in every town in Italy,” Moni said, “We saw the one in Florence, Pisa, Rome, and Milan.”
On Tuesday, Moni had to go to school, unlike the US, Italy does not celebrate Thanksgiving and therefore does not have school off. The three joined Moni and were able to experience a completely different type of schooling.
“The school systems there are so different from American schools. For instance, the teachers move around from classroom to classroom while the kids stay put,” Johnson said.
During the remaining time in Florence, the seniors visited the Uffizi and Galleria dell’Accademia museums along with a lookout where all of Florence was visible.
That same week, Thanksgiving took place. The three were able to share the holiday with Moni’s friends and family as the took part in a traditional Thanksgiving meal.
“Each of us was in charge of preparing something for the Thanksgiving dinner,” Senior Ance Trapse said. “The meal was a combination of both traditional American dishes and Italian desserts.”
After Thanksgiving, they visited Milan for some Black Friday shopping and they were able to ride subways and learn about public transportation.
“We got lost at first because we didn’t really know how the trains worked,” Johnson said.
Then, the four visited the leaning tower of Pisa for pictures and explored the Plaza del Duomo. This concluded the tourism during the trip. For the last day, Johnson, Smith, and Trapse said goodbye and prepared to return home.
“We were so sad to leave them as they had become our second family. We can’t thank them enough for their hospitality and generosity,” Trapse said.
The three seniors are grateful for their experiences and hope to see Moni again soon. They are returning home with life lessons and new experiences that will help them in the future.

Seniors, Maya Johnson, Ance Trapse, Sierra Smith and Chiara Moni pose in front of the Colosseum in Rome.
TOHS seniors, Johnson, Smith and Trapse and former exchange student Chiara Moni come together with Moni’s Italian friends prior to Thanksgiving dinner.