Italian exchange student tries to teach Burlington family how to make pizza. They teach him how to water ski and learn to skate

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

November 13th, 2017



Marcello - standing

Marcello Beltrami

Marcello Beltrami is a 17 year old Italian student in Burlington as part of a Rotary International student exchange. He will be staying with four different families during his yearlong visit.

He is with Tom and Margaret Hayes for the first three months. Exchange students are nothing new to the Hayes household – they have had students from France, Thailand, Brazil and Peru.

Tom and Margaret are basically empty nesters – he is a mechanical engineer she is an accountant.

Marcello is a student at Assumption high school where he takes English as a second language classes and is also taking classes in biology. His student bent seems to be in the sciences.

When student exchange interviews take place – everyone is on their best behavior – the situation is always perfect – never any problems.

Marcello with hays

Tom Hayes, Marcello, Margaret Hayes and the family dog

In the Hayes household – that’s actually the way it was. The dog barked and sniffed where you didn’t want him to sniff. The cat had that insouciance that only cats and very attractive women manage to pull off.

And Marcello giggled while telling me about how he was teaching Tom to make pizza. In Burlington pizza is something we order in – Marcello is Italian and he assumed that everyone makes the pizza from scratch.
Marcello wasn’t a guest – he was a member of the family and you could feel it as the conversation bumped from Tom, to Marcello and then on to Margaret.

What did Marcello know about Canada before he got here: that we are known for Maple Syrup and that it gets cold – very cold.

Home in Italy is in Cremona – in the southern part of Italy. His Mom is an English teacher and with Skype on his computer he can be in touch with his parents whenever he wants.

The Hayes are doing a superb job of ensuring that Marcello gets out and learns about the country. He had the traditional pea meal bacon sandwich at the St. Lawrence Market, got to Montreal to watch the Canadiens play Detroit; the Hayes household is part of that tribe that still believes the Maple Leafs will win a Stanley Cup – soon. Marcello was oblivious to that tribal trait.

On a trip to Little Italy Marcello met a woman from Calabria, Italy and immediately fell into a conversation about where he was from and what he was doing in Canada.

During the summer the family took Marcello to the lake and gave him a chance to try water skiing – “He got up the first time” said Tom. Skating is next for the Italian.

What is Marcello allowed to do? His behaviour is guided by what Rotarians describe as the five D’s.

Marcello Margaret Hayes

Margaret Hayes explains the Rotary 5Ds

No driving
No drinking
No drugs
No dating
No dis figuration – tattoos, nose rings.

The last week of the yearlong experience is spent by all the International students on a two week tour of eastern Canada.

Margaret Hayes is a strong advocate for the International Student idea. She believes that the better we understand each other the more peaceful the world we live in will be. This she was disappointed when just three people in Burlington applied for the International experience and she isn’t quite sure why the number of applicants was so low.

Marcello - Tom Hayes

Tom Hayes

Through the interview there was a lot of joshing and kidding back and forth. Marcello will move on to the next family he will spend three months with – Tom is going to miss that young man.

Marcello speaks to the Lakeshore Rotary Club at lunch on Tuesday.

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