Scecina’s International Program keeps calm and carries on during pandemic

Spread the love

Scecina’s International Program continues to flourish, on a different level, during the pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly put a cloud over Scecina and its partner international education organizations, said John Hegarty, director of International Programs at Scecina.

Last school year, Scecina was hosting 19 international students. Then came March, when Scecina had to suspend in-person classes. Like dominos, the international groups, one by one, started asking students to return to their homes.

“We, the host parents and the natural parents together decided the best course of action for each student. It was a hectic year, but we learned a lot,” Mr. Hegarty said. “We made sure the kids got home as safely as possible.”

Hosts from the Scecina Community drove to Chicago so students would have nonstop flights. Families who had hosted students from the past opened their doors to former international students who needed a home after the American universities they were attending closed doors.

“That just shows the kind of families we have here at Scecina,” said Mr. Hegarty.

Eight international students from Brazil, Vietnam, and China were able to finish their studies and graduate from Scecina in 2020.

Related: Postcard from Brazil from Lorenzo Bender

Currently, in the middle of the pandemic, Scecina is hosting 11 international students. While some attend in person, others learn online from their home countries or while staying with hosts or relatives elsewhere in the United States. This year’s international program boasts students from Nigeria, Jordan, Italy, Brazil, and China.

For the previous three years, Scecina hosted a group of students from Spain for about three weeks. Such short-term programs have been suspended. A student from France had to cut his stay short this year.

An Italian student, Tomasso Iachelini, arrived in the fall.

2 international students

Nino Murru (left) is from Sardinia, Italy. Tomasso Iachelini is from Bolzano, Italy.

“Tomasso came through Educatius, one of our main partner organizations,” said Mr. Hegarty. “He wanted to come here for his senior year so he can go to an American university. He is interested in Purdue, as are a lot of kids from around the world. We made sure he was a real strong student and that his English was good so he could get right down to work.”

Another Italian student, Nino Murru, arrived at school in January. Nino and Tomasso hail from different areas of Italy. Nino is from Sardinia, an island off the coast of mainland Italy, while Tomasso’s hometown is Bolzano in the farthest north of Italy.

Anna Porfiri, a young woman from Italy, will come to Scecina for March, April, and May.

International students sometimes are required to take Scecina’s English as a New Language course. To avoid overload for the staff this year, Scecina made sure any international students were well prepared to start classes.

Mr. Hegarty hopes to return to business as usual soon and begin recruiting international students as strongly as before.

“We’re optimistic about next year. There are many opportunities,” he said.

« Back to News