At the beginning of the month, members of the ORRHS American Field Service club and fellow students took a day trip to New York City to embark on a cultural experience.
The AFS club is dedicated to multicultural learning through various opportunities offered around the South Coast area and beyond, and it hosts international exchange students in our community every year. This year, students from Italy, Germany, and Norway have joined the ranks at ORR.
“It’s always been nice to know I have a group of people I can rely on, no matter what,” said Chris Peretz, this year’s ORR exchange student from Norway. “Plus, everyone in the club is so nice!”
AFS also organizes events and trips into the immediate and larger communities as well, in order to learn and engage in cross-cultural experiences.
Some smaller in-school events have been the annual pumpkin carving contest around Halloween, which introduces a major North American tradition to exchange students. Following the holiday, AFS students also baked and sold pies to faculty members of both the junior and senior high school for a Thanksgiving fundraiser, another annual tradition.
In the larger community, members helped out at the 16th Manjiro Festival in Fairhaven in October, a Japanese-American festival celebrating the first Japanese person to live in America and Fairhaven’s relationship with its Japanese sister-city, Tosashimizu. They have also invited international high school students from all of Southern Massachusetts to join them at school for their yearly “International Dinner,” where students bring in unique dishes from cultures all around the world and come together for a night of bonding.
The New York City trip is just another of these annual traditions that has gone on for many years. In the past three, the AFS club has seen the Rockettes and Times Square in the wintertime, and the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in June.
Other than being a yearly event that many students look forward to, the excursion also serves as the first time in the Big Apple for some local and international students. Nevertheless, the trip offers a new experience for everyone.
“It was interesting; I had a lot of fun,” said Peretz. “It was definitely different being there now than when I was eleven. Without any parents or family, it felt more real. I felt more like an adult.”
“I think the New York City trip is a great experience for Tri-Town kids, and it was also nice to see how well rounded and respectful they can be,” said English teacher Kate Ribeiro, who was a chaperone on the trip. “I really didn’t know what to expect because it’s the first time I’ve been that far with students, but they were incredibly mature and followed the rules. I do wish that we got to eat more food, though!” she added with a laugh.
School Nurse Kim Corazzini heads the AFS Club and runs the annual trip.
“I think it went really well,” said Corazzini. “The weather was excellent. Kids got to go to NYC and the Met for the first time. They also had free time to go around Rockefeller Center. It goes fast, but everything worked out well. It was a good trip.”
The trip’s first stop was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where students had the opportunity to take in some of Central Park’s sights before they were admitted into the museum. Nearby was a Shakespeare garden, which holds every plant mentioned in the Bard’s works, along with Belvedere Castle, which allowed for a panoramic view of the city.
The AFS club then had several hours to explore the Met, and quickly discovered that there was more to see than in just the amount of time they had. They entered into the museum through the Roman and Greek art wing, and several students enrolled in Latin courses could be seen translating thousand year-old tombstones from Rome.
“I’d never been there, so it was a whole new experience,” said senior Ben Snow. “I’d never seen so much art before.”
The group made the two-mile trek to Rockefeller Center afterwards, weaving their way through the throngs of tourists similarly interested in seeing the iconic Christmas display. After a stop to take a picture in front of the 75-foot-tall tree lit up in all its festive splendor, students dispersed and took to the streets to shop, see the city sparkling with its holiday displays and decorations, and grab something to eat.
“My favorite part was getting to see the tree at Rockefeller Center and all of the lights on the buildings,” commented senior Abbey Stark.
“The trip was nice because it appealed to everyone,” added senior Emily Bock. “There was time to just walk around, go to the Met, and shop. We got a lot out of one day.”
The ride home was filled with excited chatter over the day’s events as students and chaperones relaxed. Besides being a fun day in New York City, the AFS trip also provided a bonding opportunity and a glimpse into a larger and rather diverse part of our national and world community for everyone involved.
By Jo Caynon