You can't get sloppy joe sandwiches in Italy, which is exactly why Vince and Julie Genualdi served them, along with other American food like hot dogs, chili and s'mores, to a group visiting from that country.
The Genualdis hosted five high school students and their teacher, all from Pisa, Italy, during their Sept. 7 to 18 visit, which was arranged by Niles' Sister Cities Committee as a student exchange. Pisa is one of Niles' four sister cities.
"We've been communicating () for six to eight months trying to develop this," said Genualdi. "Basically, the students from Italy shadowed five students here at Maine South High School."
High school got involved
Genualdi approached Christina Modica, a teacher of Italian at Maine South, to develop the program, and she and fellow Italian teacher Stella Weber participated. The students stayed at the homes of the five Maine South students they shadowed.
Kids get Niles tour, including Coca-Cola, Affy Tapple
Mayor Robert Callero hosted a dinner for the group at on Sept. 8, and they also received a tour of Niles businesses and attractions, including the , where Genualdi is a division commander, , the bottling plant, the plant and , an international distributor of microphones and audio equipment.
Genualdi wanted to show the kids Coca-Cola, a brand they were familiar with, and they got to try out a new machine called Freestyle, which allows users to mix Coca-Cola drink flavors.
"They were amazed with that, and we took a tour of the plant," he said.
The visitors also liked the caramel apples at Affy Tapple, where they also took a tour, and were impressed with the tour of Shure, where they learned that Elvis Presley and other greats had used the company's microphones.
No climb to top of Leaning Tower--either one
When the group visited Niles' replica of Pisa's , a worker invited them to climb to the top, but they didn't want to because they were afraid to, Genualdi said.
"We asked them if they'd been to the top of the Pisa tower, and they said, 'no, it costs 15 Euros, it's too expensive,'" he recalled. "They were laughing about it."
A springtime visit to Italy?
Genualdi and his wife Julie, a Park Ridge police officer, hosted their cookout for the visitors on Sept. 10, and Niles Police Chief Dean Strzelecki and his wife Laurie and Niles Village Manager George Van Geem and his wife Linda also came out to give the visitors some practice speaking English, which they were eager to do.
The students who visited were: Giorgia Bimbi (15 yrs. old), Carolina Paolicchi (17 yrs. old), Claudia Brunori (17 yrs. old), Debora Podesta (17 yrs. old), and Elena Quiriconi (17 yrs. old).
Their teacher, Cantini, and Genualdi are trying to arrange a springtime visit for Niles students to visit Italy.
"A student exchange opens up their minds. Who knows what it can lead to?" Genualdi said.