There will be a lot of tears shed on June 11 when Elisa Ceccarelli says goodbye to her host family and friends she has made over the last five plus months in Morris. Elisa arrived here on December 29 and has been living with Rob and Kelli Lonergan and their daughters, Ava and Bryn. Elisa and Ava are both in the junior class at Morris Area High School and Bryn is an 8th grader.
Elisa lives in Grosseto Italy located in Tuscany. The town has a population of 90,000 so Morris is quite a bit smaller. Her parents are Laura and Michele and she has a 14-year-old sister Alessia. When her mother told her about the wonderful experiences she had in her college exchange experience in Germany, Elisa wanted to give it a try. She went through the Education First Exchange Program and was able to decide between America, the United Kingdom or Ireland. She selected America since everyone considers America as the ‘dream’ location.
Once settled in with the Lonergan family and attending classes at MAHS, Elisa began to feel very comfortable and make many new friends. She was also able to do a little travel both with her host family and through the exchange program. The Lonergans took her to the Mall of America which she felt was ‘huge.’ Through the exchange program she traveled with other exchange students to California, Nevada and Arizona. Her favorite places to visit were Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
She has also really enjoyed going with the Lonergans to their cabin where she went ice fishing and snowmobiling for the first time. She is looking forward to maybe some warmer weather sports at the cabin before she leaves in June.
On April 30, Elisa experienced what she terms as the best thing ever. She was invited to go to prom with Patrick Feist and absolutely loved the entire experience. She borrowed a dress, had her host sisters do her hair and got her nails done in preparation. Elisa said it was so fun and even emotional to participate, especially since they do not have anything similar in her home country of Italy.
The only sport she tried while here was track but an ankle injury is currently keeping her on the sidelines. She is able to travel with the team and take part in practices. This is also a new experience as you have to join a club to be in sports in Italy. Elisa has visited a few organizations in the community where she talked about Italy.
Elisa is able to stay in touch with her family and friends every day. She facetimes her parents every morning before school. On weekends she does the same with her grandparents and friends. Next year she will return to her final year of high school where she is learning to become an engineer like her father.
This is the first time for Rob and Kelli Lonergan to host an exchange student and they agree that it has been a great experience. Elisa has been very easy to talk to, spend time with and come to like very much. They will miss her when she leaves.
When asked about what she disliked the most in Morris, she responded like so many others “I am sick of the weather.” However, as that starts to improve she will be able to enjoy many of the outdoor activities offered here.
“I love my host family and spending time with them,” states Elisa. “There will be tears when I leave.”
Those tears will not be in just her eyes, but also in the eyes of her many friends and new family members she has met here.