Sister Cities program rewarding

Published 9:16 pm Friday, July 31, 2015


The Suffolk Sister Cities program has once again set up a stellar student exchange for this summer.

Four Italian teenagers are currently visiting Suffolk, and two from here visited Italy recently. The Italian teens have received a tour of Suffolk and taken part in golf, bowling, kayaking and, of course, American food.

On a recent interview with the Suffolk News-Herald, they raved about s’mores, hamburgers and fried chicken and remarked about how everything in America is bigger.

Email newsletter signup

By the time they go back home on Aug. 10, the Italians will have visited Washington, D.C., as well as Busch Gardens and a baseball game.

No doubt the Suffolk teens had mirror-image experiences while in Italy. A group of 26 Italian adults is due to visit Suffolk this month.

The man to whom Suffolk and Oderzo owe this successful relationship is Amedeo Obici, a native of Oderzo who was sent to live with relatives in Pennsylvania at a young age. After he started the Planters Nut and Chocolate Company, he saw a need to move his processing facilities closer to peanut producers, which brought him to Suffolk.

The factory he started has employed thousands of Suffolk residents throughout the years, but his benefit to Suffolk goes far beyond that. He started the hospital named after his wife, Louise Obici. His legacy also brought us the Obici Healthcare Foundation, which gives grants to programs that are helping local residents live healthier lifestyles.

One doesn’t need to dig so far as an immigrant citizen to find the connection with Suffolk’s other Sister City, which is Suffolk County, England. However, the relationship between Suffolk, Va., and its namesake is no less important and has also seen successful student exchanges in recent years.

They say the world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page, a metaphor often attributed to Saint Augustine. Suffolk Sister Cities is helping young people in Suffolk, Oderzo and England’s Suffolk County read at least an entire chapter and kindle a desire to read much more, and they’re even helping adults in those locales finish their book. We congratulate them on their important efforts.