AFS, Old Rochester Regional’s international culture club, has more than 60 participating students this year. These students, under the guidance of advisor Kim Corazzini and parent volunteer Rhonda Reints, are excited to start a year of culturally enriching trips. To fund these trips, AFS has planned a number of fundraisers, including a car wash on September 28 and an afterschool snack shop open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
In the past, AFS club has held annual international dinners, volunteered at the biannual Manjiro Festival in Fairhaven, visited the Museum of Tolerance, toured the United Nations and much more. Last year, AFS club students held a parade of flags at the senior assembly to honor all of the foreign exchange students that have walked ORR’s halls.
“We had over 28 flags representing countries that all AFS exchange students have come from,” said Corazzini, delighted with the club’s proud display last year.
One of the AFS club’s main purposes is to welcome ORR’s exchange students each year. This year, ORR welcomed Louisa Truss from Germany and Ailina Cervantes Diaz from Costa Rica. As they learn the American culture, the exchange students will also share the culture of their countries with AFS club and the ORR community.
“Our students become more conscious of what’s going on in the world and world affairs,” Corazzini said, ”as a result of having personal relationships with some kids from foreign countries.”
As well as welcoming the foreign exchange students, AFS club also makes a yearly trip to other high schools in the United States.
“When we do our exchanges to different parts of the United States, it introduces our kids to what our country is like and the differences within our country,” explained Corazzini, recalling the club’s past trips to Illinois, Wisconsin, New York, Kansas and California.
During these short-term exchanges, students in AFS club live with host families consisting of students from the other state’s AFS club. Within the three- to four-day trip, the visiting AFS students experience a day in the high school, learn the area’s culture and make new friendships across America. The following month, the ORR AFS club reciprocates the exchange experience for that high school’s club.
“It exposes our students to people outside of the perimeters of Old Rochester’s Tri-Town,” said Corazzini, recognizing the value of the club’s trips.
This year, AFS club hopes to again visit Illinois. The students will also be attending Fairhaven’s Manjiro festival this year, which celebrates Japanese-American culture. Despite the busy schedule, AFS students are always looking for more educational opportunities. Corazzini noted, “The Zeiterion is offering some really nice cultural performances, and I would like to bring our kids to a couple of those. … The Cape Cod community has an international festival the first week in March that I’m hoping to get to this year.”
To fund these amazing trips, AFS has opened an afterschool store at ORR. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, students can buy ORR sweatshirts, sweatpants, hats, blankets, and bags – all kindly provided on consignment from Shirt Shack. There are also plenty of healthy snacks available for hungry students staying for afterschool activities.
“We saw a need – a way to make some money but also to provide something to give the kids some good nutritional snacks,” Corazzini said. She also noted that the school store will make ORR paraphernalia more accessible to the exchange students visiting our school.
“We’ve had a really good reception from the students,” parent volunteer Rhonda Reints said. Running the store twice a week, Reints has seen the positive reaction from the ORR community.
As well as the school store, AFS club will be holding a car wash fundraiser on September 28 at the Mattapoisett firehouse from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. AFS club members have volunteered to participate and raise money for the club. Each car wash will cost $5. Donations will be accepted.
With such a busy year ahead of them, AFS club is off to a great start. Corazzini is looking forward to another year with this “outstanding bunch of kids.”
By Renae Reints