Lyn Scolaro, Prospect High School Italian teacher, never imagined that her annual Italian Exchange trip would lead to a District 214 international internship program. But that is exactly what happened!
When the group visited the Redoro Olive Oil Company in Verona, Italy in March, 2016, the owner approached Lyn with a unique and intriguing proposition: What if her students partnered with the company in an educational research and marketing project that would include a $100,000 grant over three years?
It was an offer Lyn couldn’t refuse. After initial brainstorming with her students, and with strong support from the District administration, they created their plan for the project. Students would partner with local business and community organizations and engage in a year-long research project related to their future professional interests. The year would culminate with each student presenting their research and accomplishments, giving them the opportunity to win one of six scholarships to do international internships with Redoro in Italy in the summer: Four $1000.00 scholarships for a two-week study-abroad and internship, and two $3,000 scholarships to include air travel to Verona, a home stay, classes at Idea Verona, and an internship at the company's home office in Grezzana.
The first year has already been more exciting than they imagined!
Students have conducted research related to Chemical Engineering, Social Media and Marketing, Environmental Science and other areas that correspond to their future career aspirations. Their research even included collaboration with professors at the University of Wisconsin.
They have also hosted countless community tasting events beginning with their Launch Celebration in August 2016 at the Little Italy West Fest in Addison, IL, and they enjoyed collaborating with a Farm-to-Table Restaurant in Wisconsin.
Community service is also embedded in their project. After a 6.2 magnitude earthquake rocked central Italy in August 2016, the students were moved to raise money at their tastings to support earthquake relief programs there.
And, all of these experiences have given Lyn’s students amazing opportunities to develop their professional communication skills in both English and Italian!
The students recently returned from the 2017 trip to Italy. While there, they visited Redoro and each student reported on what they had accomplished during this first year of partnership with the company. Lyn was happy to report, "it was an amazing day and Daniele, the owner, was without words. He had no idea it would get to such a place."