From online to Italy

PV senior meets Italian student from app


Contributed by Ruby Comiskey

Ruby Comiskey visited Carlotta Facchin at her home in Italy. Two years ago, they met on an app named HelloTalk where an individual is connected with a native speaker of the language they wish to learn.

Isabella Zuluaga, Staff Writer

November of their sophomore year, the first message senior Ruby Comiskey sent to Carlotta Facchin, who is from Verona, Italy, on the app HelloTalk was Ciao Carlotta sono Ruby <3. Now, two years later, they have both traveled across the globe to visit each other.

Comiskey’s passion for Italian started in seventh grade when she decided to switch her language class from Spanish to Italian.

“Every year, we would learn the same exact thing [in Spanish], so I just got bored,” said Comiskey, who is currently hosting an exchange student, Federica Gatto, with the Italian Exchange Program. “I wanted to do something new.”

Comiskey said that she is always looking for new ways to further improve her language skills. She came across HelloTalk, an app that connects you with native speakers of the language you would like to learn.

Faccin was one of Comiskey’s many matches. Comiskey and Faccin later became close friends.

Comiskey introduced HelloTalk to Mrs. Barbara Borghi, her Italian teacher, and her class.  

She expressed her feelings towards this app as “a shot in the dark” and “plain russian roulette.” Borghi would not recommend the app to teenagers unsupervised.

Borghi said that Facchin fit the profile that was considered a match for her students. Facchin was also from a town in which Borghi knew well.

Borghi started incorporating HelloTalk into her classroom. She gave each student a question to post on the app and then she would review all students’ conversations. According to Borghi, none of her students had a connection with who they spoke with besides Comiskey.

Borghi then asked Comiskey if Facchin would be comfortable skyping them as a class. She was, and Borghi was formally introduced to her. Since then, Facchin has been in contact with Borghi asking italian-based questions.

Facchin and Comiskey started talking on WhatsApp and came up with the idea of visiting each other. Comiskey’s mom was hesitant to the idea of her daughter going away to stay with a family that she did not know. Instead, Facchin stayed with the Comiskeys.

“We took her home [from the airport] and gave her lucky charms because that is super American,” Comiskey said.

During her stay, they went to New York City, taught each other recipes, and spent time with Comiskey’s friends. Her mom quickly realized that Facchin had good intentions and let Comiskey visit her the following summer.

Once summer came, Comiskey went to Verona, Italy to visit Facchin. They would spend time with Facchin’s friends on her dad’s boat. Throughout the trip, they visited Venice, Borussia, and Mulan.

Borghi has had Comiskey as a student since freshman year.

“Through guidance, support, and technology, I believe that Ruby could turn this passion into what could potentially become a career,” Borghi said.

For a career, Comiskey has an interest in pre-law, but she also wants stick with her talent towards foreign languages. She is interested in learning other languages, specifically Arabic, French, and Russian. She said that she is trying to find a way to pursue a career with the two.

“I was able to see a gift in Ruby,” Borghi said. “She precisely remembers writing a comment in one of Comiskey’s essays, ‘If I could give you more than a hundred I would, you have a gift. Don’t waste it.’”

Contributed by Ruby Comiskey