The distance from Lake Como, Italy to Mesquite is more than thousands of miles. It is the distance between lakes, forests and deserts as well as between languages and cultures. All of this is being experienced by Micaela Mazza, one of 11 exchange students attending Virgin Valley High School (VVHS) this fall.
Mazza, who is a senior, has been in Mesquite for a month and is still adapting to her new surroundings. Her desire to be in the U.S. isn’t new however, “I love America and I have been here twice before.” This is her first trip to Nevada and a desert. She hopes to see the Grand Canyon and other attractions before she returns to Italy in January.
School is also very different from Italy. “We don’t change classes as we do here, the teachers change every hour, but as a class we stay together,” said Mazza. She also thinks not changing classrooms makes it easier to make friends as you stay together all school year.
Another change is that high schools specialize in subjects. Mazza is taking Spanish, German and English in Italy, and wants to be a linguist after graduating from college. Her other classes in Italy include Math, Chemistry, Biology and History. Perhaps the biggest difference is that in Italy classes go from Monday through Saturday with only Sunday off.
The first thing you notice about Mazza is her excellent command of English. “We start learning English when we are three to five years old,” Mazza said, explaining that the Italian version of Kindergarten begins that early. She says that media is full of English words so it is important for children to learn basic terms early. One thing is the same however; the school ends in June and begins in September just as in Mesquite.
Mazza also said that the teachers in Mesquite are much more helpful than in Italy, “In Italy the teachers are much more formal.” She enjoys that teachers work with her outside of class and help prepare students for tests.
When Mazza returns to Italy, she will join her mother and father who both work in their family business and her older brother who is at university. “We are very close and I have a strong relationship with my family,” said Mazza.