Cobram representatives head to Italy for cultural exchange, building on a long relationship with the towns Varapodio and Molochio.ROBERT HENSON August 7, 2014 3:34am
A delegation of Cobram residents has returned from a trip to Italy, finding new friends and reuniting with family.
Leaving mid-July and returning last week, the group included 12 Cobram Secondary College students, Moira Shire Mayor Peter Mansfield and Italfest Committee members.
The 2014 Cultural Exchange began in Florence and Rome, sampling the architectural sights and culinary delights.
Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast beaches were on the itinerary, before flying to Reggio Calabria, where they met new friends and family from Varapodio and Molochio.
A formal municipal welcome was held in Varapodio and Molochio. It continues a long-running reciprocal visit program, with groups arriving from Italy every second year, alternating with trips from Australia.
Cobram Secondary College principal Vicki Nolen said the trip was about ‘‘renewing friendships’’ in continuing the cultural exchange program.
‘‘As I had been there before, this trip provided me with the special opportunity to reunite with friends from over a four-year period,’’ Ms Nolen said.
She said the students got a range of benefits from the trip, especially through making friends with Italian youth and connecting through social media.
‘‘There’s been a strengthening of relations .
‘‘They can relate to different cultures and countries, navigate through new and large cities like Rome and Florence, manage foreign currency.’’
Four of the students were able to meet or renew connections with family members in the towns, which have a population of about 2500 people.
Georgia Papalia and Kayla Damore both enjoyed seeing family in Varapodio and Molochio.
‘‘I got to see my family, there was a fair few of them, cousins and all,’’ Georgia said. ‘‘It was interesting to see how they lived and grew up, and to see the town.’’
‘‘I hadn’t seen them for 14 years, my uncle, aunty and cousins,’’ Kayla said. ‘‘Leaving (Italy) was emotional.’’
For Lachlan Coburn, the trip has inspired possible future travels.
‘‘You did get a bit of an attachment there, you didn’t want to go. It makes me want to travel, not just in Italy but all over Europe.’’
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