The Rayflector

Viva La Raytown!

Left+to+right%3A+senior+Dax+Hawksby%2C+Raytown+graduate+Doyne+Dodd%2C+seniors+Blake+and+Chase+Peitsmeyer%2C+and+Alberto+Schiaffino+pose+during+a+boys%27+night+out.+
Left to right: senior Dax Hawksby, Raytown graduate Doyne Dodd, seniors Blake and Chase Peitsmeyer, and Alberto Schiaffino pose during a boys' night out.

Left to right: senior Dax Hawksby, Raytown graduate Doyne Dodd, seniors Blake and Chase Peitsmeyer, and Alberto Schiaffino pose during a boys' night out.

Left to right: senior Dax Hawksby, Raytown graduate Doyne Dodd, seniors Blake and Chase Peitsmeyer, and Alberto Schiaffino pose during a boys' night out.

Rae DeBoe, Editor-In-Chief

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Alberto Schiaffino is excited.

“Right here?” He asks, as he settles into his seat: a stool in the science hallway. He looks over at my laptop, eyeing the questions he’s soon to be asked with what appears to be nervous excitement. The nerves seem to dissipate as he begins speaking about his hometown, Genoa, Italy.

“I live in an apartment in front of the sea,” he recalls with a dreamy look in his eyes. Genoa is a port city in Liguria. Its dense population makes it the sixth-largest city in Italy. Schiaffino’s pride in his city is shown as he rattles off information about the town.

“It’s the hometown of Christopher Columbus!”

Different is a word that comes up a lot in our conversation. Schiaffino notices a lot of (seemingly minor) cultural differences that start to add up.

“We do everything [about] one hour after you do it. We start school at 8 a.m. instead of at 7 a.m., we have lunch at 2 p.m. or 1 p.m. instead of 11 a.m. or 12 p.m…. so everything is different.”

The significant variances are more discernable when they involve school.

“[It’s] a lot harder. We don’t do a lot of … sports and clubs at school,” Schiaffino said.

In Italy, schools are directed toward career pathways. Schiaffino, who is interested in math and science based topics, attended a school named after Giovanni Cassini, an Italian astrophysicist.

“Here in the U.S., your life is connected to school. In Italy, I know more people from other schools than mine.”

As far as sports are concerned, basketball and soccer play big parts in Schiaffino’s life. Like many in his country, he began playing recreational soccer at the age of four. At six, he was moved to the goalie position, prompting his parents to take him out of soccer and put him in basketball, which he had begun playing a year prior. While he claims not to have a talent for the game, his passion is apparent.

For Raytown natives, it may be difficult to understand why anyone from a place as beautiful as Genoa would want to live in our humble town. For Schiaffino, it was all about the experience.

After his sister, who is two years older than him, studied abroad in Boise, Idaho for a year, Schiaffino became eager to do the same. Not only was he excited for the adventure, he also knew the importance of learning English.

“In the modern world, if you don’t speak English, you can’t travel, you can’t work. So it’s very important to be fluent.”

While he started learning English in elementary school (which he proved with a heartfelt rendition of his ABC’s), it took a while before his fluency in the language was strong.

His firm grasp on the language made it easy for Schiaffino to find a tenacious friend group; one that he treasures.

Schiaffino gives me a knowing grin as he speaks.

“You know who I’m hanging out with. I like them. Sometimes they’re kind of weird, but I like them,” he shrugged.

Of course, with leaving home comes a void. When asked what he misses the most, Schiaffino compiled a quick list including his family, friends, and basketball. All that said, there was still something missing.

“What about the food?” I asked.

After realizing that he had neglected to mention it, Schiaffino’s features flashed with an emotion I’ve never seen before.

“Oh, the food is before friends and family. That’s a big deal for me. It’s very hard for me,” Schiaffino said.

He goes on talking about pesto, a basil sauce that originated in his hometown of Genoa. The sauce is served with trofie pasta, creating a dish called (wait for it) trofie al pesto.

Schiaffino also wasted no time in claiming that Americanized Italian food is awful.

“I mean, what can I do? It sucks. It’s pretty bad,” he said with a shake of his head.

Save for a few pizza places in Brookside, he’s had enough of what we have to offer.

Things got more somber when Schiaffino further compared America to Europe.

“Maybe you shouldn’t write this. It’s a sensitive subject,” he warned, questioning whether or not it was okay for me to write about topics involving gun control. After being pressed to continue, he did so freely.

“People think that Europe is way less safe than here, but it’s not true at all. I’ve been here seven months and I’ve heard at least ten times of someone [getting] killed or someone [who] killed themselves. [It’s] kind of [scary] here sometimes. Like, with gun control, I have some friends who say, ‘It’s not right, I want to carry my gun. I want to protect myself.’ For me, it’s completely out of my mind. In Italy, I’ve never seen someone carrying a gun if it wasn’t a policeman. Kids… can’t find guns.”

It’s at the end of this conversation that our interview is to be postponed for another day.

Two days later when we met again, Schiaffino is in his weight-lifting class. He and friend Blake Peitsmeyer nudge each other with inside jokes (then tuck their shirts and pull their athletic shorts up way too high. It’s scarring.)

It is a beautiful day, which Schiaffino notes as I set up my laptop. He comments that he is waiting for his family to arrive, as they are to be spending the week with him. The excitement, though noticeably stifled, is audible.

Schiaffino is bittersweet about the fact that his year at Raytown High School is coming to a close.

“I would like to have more time left to stay here, but I miss my family, I miss my friends, and I miss the summer.”

This year’s graduation doesn’t count for Schiaffino. In Italy, there are 13 grades as opposed to our 12, so when he goes back next year, he will finish high school. The 18-year-old has big plans for the rest of his life. Even before I finish asking him about his future career, he replies.

“Engineering in Milan. Probably biomedical.”

We sit in the sun for a moment. I ask, as always, if there’s anything else he wants me to know, anything else he wants to be written in his article. Characteristically, he makes a joke that has become an insider to his tight knit friend group.

Alberto Schiaffino, like many young men at Raytown High, has a bright future and big plans, but is not going to sacrifice the enjoyment of life’s simple things for it.

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