By David Fleet
Goodrich-Margherita Mazza knows the perfect recipe for pizza; Thin crust, light sauce, some fresh mozzarella cheese and fresh basil.
“Food is an important part of our country,” said Mazza, 17, a native of Pagnacco a town of about 4,000 near the city of Udine in the northeast corner of Italy. “It’s a way to bring families together. The pizza here is not as good. But bread sticks are great along with root beer floats. Those are wonderful.”
Mazza’s American experience started in August as part of the ASSE-International Student Exchange Program. She lives with the Thurk family in Atlas Township and will attend high school until her return in June. Mazza attends Antonio Zanon High School in Udine and when she returns next year will be a senior.
She lives in a townhouse with her mother and father along with an older sister.
“It’s always been my dream to come to the United States and be an exchange student here,” she said. “Since I’ve been here I truly love the values American have. Anyone can believe what they want, they all have the same opportunities. They encourage each other to seek their dreams. There’s really no judging one another, rather everyone is different and it’s really OK.”
While the supportive aspects of Americas is notable to Massa, gun ownership was a surprise.
“The guns are everywhere here,” she said. “It seems everyone here can own one. While we have some guns for hunting just not that way in Italy. It was just new to me and seems rather dangerous.”
Americans are also really big on sports, she said.
“At home we do not have school sports after classes,” she said. “Soccer not your football is our sport. I did make it to football games this fall and now understand what’s going on. But it took some time.”
Mazza was on the cross country team, joined a youth group at St. Mark Church and Girl Scouts soon after she arrived in the United States.
“I grew up in the scouts,” she said. “We camp and hike. Except, we have boys in our troops too. It’s Christian based and have grown accustom to boys in scouts.”
Eating a meal as a family is a big part of the day in Italy.
“We wait for dad to come home and eat together as a family,” she said. “It’s a way to share about our day. It’s a shock to me that families don’t do that here. It uncommon for us to eat in front of the TV or keep a cell phone on the table.”
A microwave is not as common in the kitchen in Italy.
“The food’s not too bad here,” she said. “I had my first processed dinner here. Mom cooks and we just don’t eat them back home.”
Mazza said she’ll continue her education and possibly a business career someday.