A global awareness

Published 6:11 pm Thursday, July 4, 2019

Suffolk Sister Cities International is helping bring a global awareness not only to Suffolk residents but also to teens and adults from around the globe.

Three teenaged young ladies from Italy, where one of Suffolk’s sister cities, Oderzo, is located, are in Suffolk this week on a cultural exchange. They have enjoyed visiting many important American sites, such as Williamsburg and Jamestown; eating American food, including fast food and fast-casual options not available in Italy; doing fun activities like jet-skiing; and more.

Most importantly, the teens went on a tour of Suffolk that allowed them to connect to Italian immigrant Amedeo Obici, who was from Oderzo and makes the connection between the two cities.

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Obici moved to Suffolk after getting into the peanut business in Pennsylvania, and his enduring influence on our city is still visible today in sites like Sentara Obici Hospital, the Obici Healthcare Foundation, the Obici-Oderzo Fountain near the courthouse, Obici House, and any number of businesses and facilities dedicated to processing and selling peanuts, especially Planters, the company Obici founded. Multiple Mr. Peanut statues throughout town, such as on Character Corner downtown and at the Obici House, speak to the legacy of Obici’s favorite marketing character.

Sara Zecchinello, 18, Alice Sarri, 17, and Linda Massariolo, 19, said they have enjoyed their trip so far and are learning a lot. Each of them is staying with a host family that can nurture their various interests, such as theater for Linda and criminology for Sara, so they’re already getting a worldwide perspective on potential careers at a young age.

Meanwhile, in Italy, Suffolk’s Rory King is doing much the same thing as he participates in the other half of the exchange.

This has become almost an annual tradition for the Suffolk Sister Cities organization, and we encourage more teens and adults to get involved in this great organization. The partnerships it has with both of its sister cities — Suffolk County, England, is the other — are improving the global awareness of everyone involved and nurturing trans-Atlantic relationships that will remain for years to come.