Costanza Marabini (left) went to school in Haines for about a month while visiting a family friend. (Emily Files)

Costanza Marabini (left) went to school in Haines for about a month while visiting a family friend. Fourth grader Audrey Bader sits beside her. (Emily Files)

Earlier this school year, Haines fourth graders learned about another part of the world from someone their own age. An Italian student visiting a family friend in Haines spent a month in the local school.

Nine-year-old Costanza Marabini is known as “Costy” to Haines resident Nelle Jurgeleit-Greene.

Jurgeleit-Greene met Costy’s family five years ago through a program called GeoVisions. She stayed with the Marabinis in Potenza Picena, helping them learn English and teaching English in the local school.

“And I suggested that any of the kids could come and stay with me,” Jurgeleit-Greene said. “And Costy was the only one who said ‘I want to do it!’ So here she is, and we’ve had a great time.”

Costy says she never got homesick while in Haines. She enjoys walking Jurgeleit-Greene’s dogs, learning new games and eating dinner a few hours earlier.

“There is more games, like Captain Robert, tag..and like dinner we do much late, like at 8:30 maybe, but here we do dinner at 5 or 6,” Marabini said.

In addition to different meal times, she had to adjust to different food.

“Like in in Italy, on Saturday and Sunday, two times a week, we’d eat pizza,” Marabini. “But here, no.”

“If you eat pizza there, it’s very thin,” said Haines fourth grader Jackson Cowart, one of the American students who learned about Italy from Costy.

“It was awesome having Costy in our class because she teached us a lot – taught us a lot — about Italy,” said Bear Scott.

What have they learned?

“Both Costy and us live by the ocean,” said Arik Koverdan.

“Their art on paintings is a lot different,” said Loyal Tormey.

“I actually didn’t know that Rome was in Italy,” said Jonas Bell-Turley. “And I didn’t know they had much different architecture.”

Fourth grade teacher Tracy Wirak says the class took a Google Earth tour of Costy’s hometown.

“We zoomed in and we actually got to see Costy’s house. She took us on a little tour to her school, the route that she takes,” Wirak said. “We’ve also tried to incorporate some Italian words on some items around the classroom. Luckily Costy helped correct me on some words I had totally wrong.”

In turn, Costy has been learning English.

“I’ve seen her English improve dramatically,” Jurgeleit-Greene said.

Even though Costy had never been outside Italy before her visit to Haines, she has some things in common with American students. She says her favorite parts of school are recess and lunch (and snack time.)

Costy spent about a month at the Haines School. In mid-September, she and Jurgeleit-Greene traveled back to Potenza Picena.