Buona fortuna

Published 9:54 pm Monday, June 27, 2011

The Sister Cities program in which Suffolk participates has been an interesting opportunity for people here to get to know the people and cultures of two different cities in other parts of the word.

With sister cities Oderzo, Italy, and Suffolk County, England, our city has been able to set up various events at which people from Europe and America spend time together learning about the similarities and differences in their communities.

There have been musical presentations by bands and choral groups from Suffolk, Va., and from England. A competition for American art students sponsored by Sister Cities gave some of those students the opportunity to travel with their art. A couple of groups have visited from Italy to tour the city and see where their beloved Amedeo Obici went when he left his native land. And at one point an Italian physical therapist visited Suffolk to learn how physical therapy is practiced here.

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But perhaps the most important opportunity presented by the Sister Cities program is the exchange of students that takes place every year, when a group of Suffolk students heads off to Europe and a group of Italian students comes to the United States to spend a month visiting one another’s homeland.

Such exchanges open the door for a true exchange of culture, a real awakening to the fact that, wherever we live, our differences are not so great that we cannot find common ground. They open the eyes of young people to the possibilities inherent in the world we all share. And they help close the great gap that often exists between Europe and America.

Welcome, Italian friends, to Suffolk, Va. We hope you will enjoy your stay. And to our young people on their way to Italy, buona fortuna.