Students travel across the globe, around the heart


With each new school year, Sacred Heart Greenwich welcomes a new group of international students to its halls who exchange their everyday routine to live with Greenwich students and experience local culture. Sacred Heart sophomores also take part in the reciprocal exchange and travel across the globe.
This year, 26 Greenwich students will take part in the program, according to Upper School Academic Dean, Director of Summer Enrichment, and Network Exchange Coordinator Mrs. Jennifer Bensen.

The Mount Anville Secondary School is located in Dublin, Ireland
Courtesy of

Students participating in exchange travel to a variety of Sacred Heart schools. Mount Anville Secondary School in Dublin, Ireland, and Kincoppal-Rose Bay School of the Sacred Heart in Sydney, Australia continue to be the most popular exchange locations. On average, Kincoppal-Rose Bay and Mount Anville accept five to seven Sacred Heart Greenwich students each school year.
The exchange program offers students the opportunity to leave Greenwich and experience a completely different culture while observing the similar values of a Sacred Heart sister school.
Lara Taylor and Chloe McGrath were the first exchange students to visit Sacred Heart this school year. They came from Sydney and stayed with junior Olivia Wise and sophomore Jackie Prata from September 13 to October 4. Lara and Chloe both appreciated the beauty of the Greenwich campus and noted the differences and similarities between the Australian and American education systems. Some of the similarities they discussed were school values.
“There are a lot of shared values between our schools,” Chloe said. “Your school is all about coming together as a community, and I feel like it’s the same in Australia.”
Olivia traveled to Kincoppal-Rose Bay to stay with Lara in June and said that throughout her time in Australia she observed common themes between both the Greenwich and Sydney schools. This commonality extends to all Sacred Heart schools who follow the same mission.
A more recent addition to Sacred Heart’s exchange program is the Istituto Sacro Cuore della Trinità dei Monti in Rome, Italy. Junior Sarah Hecht went on exchange to this network school her sophomore year. The immense cultural immersion she received from her time spent at the school was her greatest memory from exchange.
“At first the major cultural differences seemed strange,” Sarah said. “The longer I stayed on the exchange; however, the more I adapted and began to appreciate their greater independence and freedom and how it allowed them to appreciate their community.”
Kincoppal-Rose Bay students Lara Taylor and Olivia Maganas, with Olivia Wise ’19, and Katherine Santoro ’19 climbed the Harbor Bridge while on exchange in Sydney, Australia.
Katherine Santoro ’19

A unique aspect of Sacred Heart’s exchange program compared to those of other high schools and colleges is that it is reciprocal. Each school pairs students together, allowing them to get to know each other before and during the exchange. This creates strong friendships between families across the globe.
“The feedback I have heard from many families is that these friendships continue long after the exchange ends, which is a really unique aspect [of the exchange program],” Mrs. Bensen said.
As the program becomes increasingly popular, the underclassmen look to the upperclassmen for advice based on their past experiences abroad. Sophomore Gabby Petrizzo said that she talked to the juniors before applying to the program, and now plans to visit Dublin this spring.
“Upperclassmen definitely influenced my decision to go on exchange,” Gabby said. “They all really enjoyed being immersed in another culture and experiencing a new way of life.”
– Katherine Santoro, Staff Writer