Student of the Month - May 2023

Congratulations to Anna Zavatta for being chosen as the ICES Student of the Month for May, the final winner for this school year! Anna is from Santarcangelo, Italy, attends Grand Ledge High School, and is living with Kendra Scanlon in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

It’s definitely been a wild ride,” were the first words Anna expressed about her amazing year in the U.S.

In the beginning I found out about my host family six days before I actually met her, and I got my plane tickets at 6pm the night before I left for America. It definitely started very intense. The day after I landed was my first day of school.

It does seem only fitting, then, that since Anna was one of the last students placed last year, she wrap up this school year by being chosen for this honor.

teen girl with mother

I am really lucky, because I really love my host Mom, and my cousins live just down the road. Of course it wasn’t always easy, missing my family and friends back home, but especially now, I’ve been here for almost nine months, and now I have really found my balance. I obviously still miss my parents, but I am really lucky and happy to be here,” Anna says about adjusting to a new country and culture.

Anna in classroom pointing to map of Italy

Anna’s Local Coordinator, Jennifer Pizzo, gives rave reviews of Anna’s time in Michigan and at Grand Ledge High School.

She has gotten nothing short of perfect grades while at school--And her class load is not a light load!" says Jennifer.  "She is involved in so many fantastic clubs at school, including the Model UN and Key Clubs. She does volunteer work with the Key Club, and has worked to develop her country in the Model UN, as well as learn how to work with other countries,” Jennifer states.

Jennifer also commented on Anna's tenacious determination when it came to engaging in sports. “This spring Anna joined the lacrosse team, playing the sport for the first time ever! Anna has played in the snow, rain, wind, and sun, so basically all four MI seasons within one sports season. She is always there for her teammates, and never lets them down. She shows up, and is committed to improving every time.

 group of teen girls around dinner table


Jennifer also shared Anna’s willing to attempt new things and not say “no”, but to be willing to try anything. “If you ask her to try something new, whether it be a sport, an activity, a food, etc., she is always there willing to try anything, at least once. She has attended as many school functions as she can, and not just the football and basketball games or pep rallies, but the choir concerts, the band concerts, the plays, the swim meets, the senior awards nights, and every other thing she can participate in to support her school, her community, her host family, and her friends.

One opportunity for Anna to try something new came in the form of a little cross-country drive. Anna says “I absolutely LOVE my host mom, and we have so much in common. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities here… like my host mom and I went on a road trip to Texas, and we live in Michigan! We drove, like, literally across the whole country. So that was a lot of fun.

mom and two teen girls in car

Anna says she has certainly learned more about herself than before she came. “I have definitely learned how to adapt to changes better than before, and be able to survive through the changes. I have also learned more about American culture, being in it, instead of just reading it from a newspaper.

She says a big difference between Italy and the U.S. is the food culture.  “Here, my lunch at school is at 10:30, and in Italy, my lunch was at, like, two in the afternoon. And I love to cook, so this was a big difference between cultures.

Anna was recently voted the friendliest exchange student, which is no surprise to anyone who knows her. She says she tried to be involved in as many school events and clubs as possible.

high school teacher and students

Anna is making the best of her year in the U.S.A., and she's both giving and receiving the many benefits of her cross-cultural experience.

three teen girls holding country flags: Thailand, Brazil, Italy

Congratulations, Anna, on being chosen as our ICES Student of the Month for May. Make the most of your final few weeks in Grand Ledge.  And thank you to Ms. Scanlon for opening your heart and home to this wonderful, outgoing young Italian!

 As the Student of the Month, Anna will receive a $100 Visa gift card and a letter of commendation from ICES President, John Crist.


Tags: Cultural Exchange, Exchange Student, Student of the Month

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