PITTSBURG — Monday will be a bittersweet end to high school student Marta Cazzaniga’s time in Pittsburg and the United States. Marta is an exchange student from Sovico, Italy, and is in Pittsburg through the Council on International Educational Exchange.
In August, Marta left her home, leaving behind her parents Raffaella and Riccardo, along with brother and sister Giulia and Alberto, and of course, many friends. She settled into the Compton family’s home and began the new semester at St. Mary’s-Colgan High School.
“I’m so grateful to them because I cannot choose my family or the place I want to be, so this family chose me and you cannot know if you will be in a good family that loves you like your family or not,” Marta said. “Since the first day, I really felt like I’m in my home, so I’m really glad to them and the same for my school because all of the people have always been really nice to me and always ready to help me.”
The Comptons said they were glad to bring Marta into their home.
“It’s gone great, our kids love her and she has fit in really well with our family,” James Compton said.
Marta was quite busy for the past several months, not only did she participate in family activities around town, she also played volleyball, volunteered at The Lord’s Diner, and was recently selected to be part of St. Mary’s-Colgan High School’s 2020 basketball homecoming court.
In fact, Marta was supposed to leave earlier, but upon finding out that she was going to be part of the homecoming court she asked to stay a few extra days. What made being part of the court even more exciting was that at her school in Italy they don’t have homecoming or prom so being part of that while in the U.S. was quite a big deal to her, Jamie Compton said.
“I really feel like I was a part [of the community], like I’m living the American dream,” Marta said. “In Italy, we do not have clubs or activities with our schools and we can see this stuff in the movies but when I can be part of the team I felt like I was in a dream.”
“After the very first football game, she came home and said that I felt like I was in a movie,” Jamie said, adding to Marta’s comment.
Jamie and James Compton and their children — Ava, Grant and Nathan — also learned about Marta’s home and culture during her stay.
“Having her here we ask her questions all of the time and our kids ask her, you know, ‘Marta how do you say this in Italian?’,” James said, adding that many things they have learned from Marta are not things they can get just by watching TV or reading a book.
Marta taught the children Italian words like ciao (hello) and gato (cat). She also used her recipe book to cook the family cauliflower, pizza and pasta carbonara. Her mother also sent Marta and the family a box of treats for Christmas which included cheeses and cakes.
As she prepares to leave Marta said looking back there were a few challenges.
“Oh yes, I did, with my language a lot, and my research paper,” Marta said with a laugh. She wrote a paper about Italy, she got it done though and received a good grade.
Both Marta and the Comptons said going home will be difficult but they all have plans to see
each other again in the future.
“It’s going to be tough for her to leave,” James said. “They’ve asked us to come and visit, we’re
definitely going to have to do that soon.
“It’s like one of your family members leaving, it’s not easy but we know we will see her again.”
“It’s for sure really difficult because here I found a new family and new friends and I’d really like to stay here but in the same moment I am happy because I can see my family and my friends again,” she said. “I’m sure I will miss this so much.”