It’s double the fun for S-D-A High School this year as two Syracuse families have welcomed exchange students from Italy for the 2018-19 school year.  They’re sometimes called the “two Martinas.”  Though the young ladies share the same first name and the same interest in volleyball, they bring their own unique personalities and experiences to share with the school and community.
Jason and Ronda Stinson, along with their sons Brendon, Jace, and Josh, are hosting Martina Maccarana in their home for the school year.  She arrived in Nebraska on Aug. 1 along with several other exchange students who are placed in surrounding towns—Adams, Palmyra, Lincoln, and Falls City.
The Stinsons have talked about hosting an exchange student for years, and Ronda said they did the paperwork and found a good match in Martina.  They liked that she was very family centered and liked volleyball.  Plus having a girl in the house was a big plus.
They started the process in January and found out in March that she was coming to stay for the school year.  Martina M. said that she has been pleasantly surprised to see how close neighbors and friends are here and the positive, relaxed teacher/student relationships. Coming from a big city in Italy, Martina said, “It’s very different here.  It’s more quiet.”

Ronda said, “It’s been great for our family.  We like learning about Martina’s culture.  She’s a sweet girl and she fits right into our family.”  This isn’t just a vacation for her.  She’s taking some pretty tough classes; English 4, American Government, Economics, and College Algebra are just a few of them.  In Italy, she attends a linguistics based high school and focuses a lot of her studies in that direction, so coming to America was a great fit for her.
The “other” Martina attends a science based school in Italy, but she said she has always had a love of languages, especially English.  Her older sister did the exchange program three years ago, and Martina wanted to do it, too, after seeing what a growth experience it was for her sister.
Chris and Dawn Richardson, along with Morgan and Cheyenne, are hosting Martina Quaresmini.  Morgan and older sister Samantha first brought the opportunity to Chris and Dawn’s attention in April when they saw a facebook post about it.  By May, they found out that she would be staying with them this school year.
She has been very surprised by the food.  She kindly says that American Italian isn’t quite the same as actual Italian food in Italy.  Martina has not shied away from trying new things, though.
School is very different here as well.  In Italy, she attends school six days a week for just five hours a day, and they do not eat lunch at school.  The teachers move classrooms, and students spend all five years of high school in the same class with the same students.
Quaresmini is taking College Algebra, Physics, Anatomy, English, American Government, and Choir.  She plans to be a doctor one day, and her year in America is definitely not a “break” in her studies.
The Richardsons are thrilled to have her in their home for the year.  It has been a great experience so far especially for daughter Morgan who is also a senior on the volleyball team, and they’re excited to enjoy having double the fun with a whirlwind of dances and activities.
Both Martinas will be in Syracuse through the remainder of the school year, and they will return to Italy 10 days after the last day of school in the spring.