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The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

The Student Voice of Forest Hills Central

The Central Trend

Italian exchange student Chiara de Franceschi has bonded with her family through Italian cuisine

Chiara (center) pictured with her family

Sophomore Italian exchange student Chiara de Franceschi grew up surrounded by delicious Italian cuisine paired with the warm, buttery wash of family tradition.

As a young girl, she spent her holidays gathered with her family around the kitchen counter, helping create the meals that they would gather around the dining table to eat. A big part of her family bonding is centered around the creation and sharing of sapid and beautiful food.

“[We] eat and talk and spend time together, cooking and stuff,” Chiara said. “It all revolves around the kitchen.”

Her favorite meal to cook is ravioli—the first meal she ever made with her grandma. To Chiara, it is always special to summon that wonderful memory of creating ravioli and a heartwarming relationship with her grandmother. 

Chiara also loves to spend time with her sister, whom she didn’t always get along with. Chiara’s sister is four years older than her and came to America as a foreign exchange student four years ago, and since then, their relationship has blossomed. Now that Chiara is in America, she especially misses spending time with her older sister.

“My sister and my mom are the ones that I miss the most now,” Chiara said. “[In Italy], we usually sat at dinner and talked about our day, all the friends, and the gossip that happened. I feel like I miss that time in the evenings to talk about the day.”

Rather than talking to her mother and sister every day like she did in Italy, Chiara now only calls her family about once a week. Although she misses her family, Chiara is beginning to enjoy this era of alone time and exploration.

While residing in America for the past two months, Chiara has noticed some changes in herself just like her sister did. As Chiara is being immersed in American culture all by herself, she is learning to become a more sociable and friendly person.

“I’ve been here for not a long time,” Chiara said. “But being here alone without any friends and connections was very changing for me because I’ve always had that one friend or person that I can rely on and talk to. It’s kind of developing my person, like who I am without anybody.”

It’s kind of developing my person, like who I am without anybody.”

— Chiara de Franceschi

Coming to America without anyone but her host sister has forced Chiara to become a new person, shaping her into who she is. Chiara has noticed that she favors the education system in America far more than her school in Italy, preferring the hands-on scholastic approach that she experiences in the US.

Upon discovering this different yet more enticing teaching style, Chiara has decided that she wants to go to university in the Netherlands. Not only do they have a similar project-based scholastic technique to the US that Chiara enjoys, but the Netherlands also has one of the best field hockey teams in the world.

Chiara has been playing field hockey for about seven years. When Chiara was younger, her older sister played field hockey. Chiara couldn’t be left home alone, so she tagged along to her older sister’s practices and found that she really enjoyed the sport.

“It’s a way to let go of my anxiety because I care a lot about school,” Chiara said. “Having an activity where I can let go of everything and just not think about stuff is fundamental for me.”

The arduous system of education in Italy certainly takes a toll on Chiara’s mental health, but the tranquility of field hockey combined with her thriving familial relationships helps Chiara persevere through her trials. 

Even with school worries taking a toll on her morale, this compact kinship that Chiara has with her family through gathering around the dining table has brought her to love everything about being Italian.

“I love Italian culture, equality, everything,” Chiara said. “I’m very connected to my home country. I loved growing up in Italy because you have the family bonding [aspect].”

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About the Contributor
Micah McClarty
Micah McClarty, Junior Writer
Micah is a freshman who has just recently joined The Central Trend. She has been passionate about writing for as long as she can remember and is so excited to work with the rest of The Central Trend's amazing staff. Aside from school, she plays the piano both independently and in a band alongside some of her best friends. She has recently started playing both the electric and acoustic guitars and wants to continue to learn new instruments. Aside from music, Micah spends her time rewatching Community and messing around with her younger siblings. She is so thrilled to write alongside her TCT classmates in room 139. Her favorite Band: The Backseat Lovers and Weezer Her Lucky Number: 2 Her Comfort Movie: Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World and Ratatouille Her Favorite President: Gerald R. Ford

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