West Catholic High School will welcome 14 Italian students as part of a unique exchange program with Grand Rapids’ sister city, Perugia, Italy. The three-week program kicked off with an official welcome event on Friday, Sept. 29 at 8 a.m. at West Catholic. Grand Rapids’ Mayor Rosalynn Bliss spoke at the event. Other festivities included a performance of the U.S. and Italian national anthems, an introduction of program participants, and an exchange of gifts between students.
“Our West Catholic community is excited to be a part of the largest educational exchange program ever to take place between Grand Rapids and Perugia,” West Catholic President/CEO Jill Annable shared. “It is a true collaboration between the two cities as well as the Diocese of Grand Rapids and the Diocese of Perugia. The support of this program is a testament to the beautiful relationship our communities have created over their three decades of relationship.”
This historic exchange takes place as Grand Rapids and Perugia celebrate their 30th anniversary as sister cities.
The 14 West Catholic students participating in the exchange program have each been partnered with an Italian student that they will host during their time in Grand Rapids. Students will attend classes together and participate in trips to explore West Michigan and surrounding areas before the Italian students return to Perugia in mid-October. Similarly, in the spring, West Catholic students will travel to Italy for three weeks, where they will stay with and study alongside their Italian counterparts.
In addition to the students from Perugia, West Catholic is currently hosting 32 international students from 12 countries/administrative regions – Austria, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam.