Cincinnati, OH – The Church of the Nativity is a parish with a unique Catholic elementary school in the City of Cincinnati, with global ties through their international student exchange program. School and parish administrators see international travel (and the hosting of exchange students) not only as a way to prepare students to participate in the global community, but also as a way to “light the way” for others through their God-centered daily activities. Since the program’s inception in 1980, Nativity has worked with schools in 22 different countries to provide this global experience for their students. Now, those students who visit this unique school from abroad take home rich memories of their experience, as well as a unique custom coin which serves as a tangible reminder of their time with this unique institution.
“The international Friendship Program is a great way for students to be exposed to different cultures,” says Nativity Pastor Fr. Paul DeLuca. “And it provides an opportunity to light the way by being a role model in action. Each of us can be an example to others by living our life in Christ – accepting and understanding others who are different than us is essential. If we begin to know people from other countries and count them as friends, maybe we’ll be less inclined to start or fight wars against them.”
Clearly those students who visit foreign schools experience new cultures and traditions, but even those who remain at home gain some new exposure. That is because visiting students prepare age appropriate activities for each classroom, sharing their nation’s history and culture.
Students who travel to Cincinnati are hosted by Nativity families – many with children the same age as their visitors. They attend classes at Nativity to better experience American family and school life. Naturally this provides an opportunity to further friendships and foster deeper relationships. Their visits also include trips to local points of interest.
“What better way to learn about the world than by meeting students in class and on the playground” continues Fr. De Luca, “what better way to build friendships that can last a lifetime?”
Each visitor leaves Nativity with a trove of memories. As a memento of their trip, each student receives a special commemorative coin to provide a tangible reminder of their new friends in Cincinnati.
“When we host special visitors we wanted to send them away with a unique remembrance of their visit” comments Fr. De Luca. “We wanted a memento that was as unique and special as Nativity is – and these coins provide that.”
In addition to international students, the coins have been given to special benefactors of the parish, as well as special visitors. Designated as a Blue Ribbon School by the US Department of Education, Nativity hosts educators and government officials from across the country. When dignitaries visit Nativity, they gain a better understanding of parochial education in action, Nativity’s values and global vision in particular – and this special coin serves as a reminder of their visit to this special institution.
If it takes a village to raise a child, then Nativity educators are expanding the physical reach – creating a global village of friendship and cooperation.