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Argentine exchange student becomes part of Sycamore family

SYCAMORE – The Brickner family accepted a high school student from Argentina into their home six weeks ago and in that short time she’s become another part of their family.

Delfina Fiorucci, 16, attends the Institute of Domingo Savio in Santa Rosa, Argentina. She came to Sycamore on Jan. 18 to study at Sycamore High School through the Sycamore Rotary Club Foreign Exchange Student program.

Amy Brickner, one of the host parents for Fiorucci, said her daughter Ava, 15, and Fiorucci have formed a bond.

“As far as Ava and Delfina go, they are sisters,” Amy said. “They look out for each other, they help each other and they learn from each other.”

Fiorucci, who flies back home Saturday, said she’s learned a lot about American culture.

“I learned we’re all different,” Fiorucci said. “I learned a lot of new words. I learned different phrases.”

Amy said Fiorucci learned phrases such as “play it by ear,” and other metaphors.

Jeff Jacobson a Sycamore Rotarian and a Sycamore School Board member, said the point of the exchange program is to give the students who participate exposure to another culture.

Fiorucci said the language barrier wasn’t a difficult one to overcome, because she’s been learning English for six years.

“At first it’s hard to learn, but once you get to hear it, it gets better,” Fiorucci said.

Amy said Ava helped Fiorucci with her English.

“Ava’s a walking thesaurus,” Amy said. “She’s been teaching [Delfina] a lot of vocabulary Delfina may not have been exposed to.”

Fiorucci said she’s learned a lot from Ava, who will get to study at Fiorucci’s school in June. The foreign exchange program that the Sycamore Rotary Club has set up, made it where the Argentine students come to the United States during their summer break and the American students go to Argentina during their summer break.

Summer in Argentina, which is in the southern hemisphere, runs from December through February. Fiorucci and the other students will be back in class March 2, Jacobson said.

Fiorucci said Ava has helped her a lot at school and that SHS is a lot bigger than her school in Argentina.

“I used to get lost [here,” she said about SHS. “She helped me a lot. She taught me a lot of things that teenagers do here.”

In the six weeks Fiorucci’s been in Sycamore, she has studied biology, chemistry and physics.

“The school here is different,” Fiorucci said. “It’s easier in my school … I’m studying things I’ve never seen before.”

Fiorucci has also taught Ava, who’s in her second year of Spanish at SHS, some Spanish. They’ve been working on it for an hour each day.

The Spanish taught in the United States is not the same as the Spanish in Argentina. Like in the U.S. where Americans talk in a more casual way, it’s the same thing in Argentina. The Spanish taught in the U.S. is very formal.

Jacobson said the cost for the U.S. students to fly down to Argentina is on their parents and that when they’re in Argentina, the host parents down there take care of their living expenses. He said American parents take care of the Argentine students.

“It’s similar to having a houseguest,” Jacobson said. “We don’t expect the hosts to entertain and wine and dine them. Just so they can experience being a typical teen here in Sycamore.”

He said the Rotary Club in Santa Rosa raises funds for the Argentine students to come to the U.S.

Jacobson said there are just a few requirements for U.S. students who want to head down to Argentina. They have to be a Sycamore resident, attend SHS and not be struggling with their grades, which means they can’t have any failing classes.

“Instead of spending six weeks in Argentina, they may need summer school,” he said.

Source: The Daily Chronicle

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