Let's go back to how I got to be in Italy in 1986 in the first place. I grew up in a mainly Italian area of St. Louis, Missouri, USA. This area is known at The Hill. It is a working-class neighborhood with 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation Italians from both Northern and Southern Italy living in one neighborhood. In 1985, a group of kids were sent to Italy to learn first-hand about their heritage. They did not go to a Lion's Club camp but they were the first to be part of the "Youth Exchange" program. The following year the kids would be sent to the Lion's club camp in Bagnone. To decide who would go, first you had to write an essay saying why you wanted to go to Italy. Then you went on an interview. Of all the people who applied, 4 were chosen. A benefit concert was held to help pay for the tickets to send us. In 1986, 4 girls were chosen: Cheryl Imo, Angela Polizzi, Victoria Bottini and me, Margherita Lahrman. We all lived in the same area. Cheryl and Angie were in the same class,one behind me. Vicki was in the class ahead of me. We took some Italian lessons from John DeGregorio. We helped to make Italian Immigrant Statues which were sold to help pay for the cost of the trip. Here is a picture of the 4 of us at the cheese and wine reception after the concert. Then here is a concert ticket and the sash that I wore at the concert to designate that I was going to Italy. The last is a newspaper clipping from a local paper.
Behind me you can see the original Italian Immigrant Statue that is in front of our local Catholic church St. Ambrose.