Local families hosted nine Italian teens and two chaperones over the summer as part of the Sister Cities of Morgan Hill student exchange program, which began last year with Americans visiting Italy.

San Casciano, Tuscany, Italy is one of the Morgan Hill non[-profit’s five sister cities.

During this year’s visit, the students were greeted by Morgan Hill Mayor Rich Constantine; saw highlights in Silicon Valley, San Francisco and the Monterey area; visited the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk; enjoyed some local shopping; and took a zipline through the redwoods in Felton.

All host families took their exchange students on long-weekend excursions to places such as Lake Tahoe, Southern California and the Yosemite area.

A reciprocal trip to San Casciano for Morgan Hill students is planned for July 2021.For information on the next exchange program, contact Amy Whelan at [email protected].

San Casciano is in central Italy just south of Florence, deep in wine country and a destination spot for travelers from all over the world. The Italian hamlet was the first Sister City for Morgan Hill, chosen for its similarities in agriculture, tourism and proximity to a large, international area.

The San Casciano Exchange Program’s focus is cultural and social, compared to Sister Cities of Morgan Hill’s middle school program where local students travel to Mizuho, Japan, for a glimpse into that city’s educational and cultural highlights.

Sister Cities hosts monthly meetings every fourth Thursday of the month, 7pm at the Morgan Hill Centennial Recreation Center (171 W Edmundson Ave.). Interested families are welcome to sit in and learn about the group and the student exchange programs before joining.

Exchange programs in Morgan Hill

The Mizuho Morgan Hill Student Exchange Program is getting ready to host students from Mizuho, Japan, in August. MMHSEP can be reached at [email protected].

Like the Mizuho program, the San Casciano team also encourages a direct connection and lasting friendship between families in the two cities.

“Both exchange programs are very well regarded, and students return from the experiences with some of the greatest lifelong memories,” said Whelan, president of Sister Cities of Morgan Hill. “We are very pleased to have two great programs helping local Morgan Hill students both see the world and show off our own community.”

About Sister Cities of Morgan Hill

Sister Cities is an all-volunteer membership organization formed in 2002. In addition to San Casciano, Italy, and Mizuho, Japan, Morgan Hill’s program also has relationships with Seferihisar, Turkey; Ameca, Mexico; and Headford, Ireland. Morgan Hill’s Sister City program is modeled on Sister Cities International (sistercities.org), a worldwide organization fostering connections between cities, counties or states.

Connections between cities are usually based on shared similarities that can expand into a more thorough cultural exchange. Most Sister Cities organizations are comprised of volunteers, with the support of their local, elected officials. Sister Cities of Morgan Hill is under the fiscal sponsorship of the Morgan Hill Community Foundation (morganhillcf.org).

Visiting Italian student Filippo Falciani is pictured making pizza in the backyard of his Morgan Hill host family’s home earlier this summer.

Italian exchange students from San Casciano pose for a photo in the Big Blue Chair at the Morgan Hill pop-up park at Monterey Road and Second Street.
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