Thanksgiving at International School Florence
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Thanksgiving at International School Florence

American ISF community members talk about what they are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

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Thu 15 Dec 2022 12:24 PM

The International School of Florence was known as the American School of Florence from 1968 until 2000. In fact, today it is still called the American School by a lot of the school’s alumni. The school’s co-founder, Horace Gibson, was from the United States and during the course of our 70-year history we have had hundreds of students and staff from America. Please meet two of our community from the United States.

Amanda Korsell-Brown (teacher)

Originally hailing from Oakdale, Minnesota (near St. Paul), I spent 14 years in Chicago before moving to Florence six years ago.

My mother came from Minnesota to visit me in Florence for Thanksgiving this year and we went to Ristorante Accademia with some friends to celebrate. Every year for Thanksgiving, ever since I was a little girl, I like to share things I am thankful for. This year, we all went around the table and shared memories and moments of gratitude together.

Living in Italy as an American can be so often like a dream come true! I feel like I am really able to have it all. I have a job that fulfills me in a city I adore and the expat community is so warm and welcoming that I feel a sense of belonging I have never quite felt before. A pastime I enjoy is music, and with a Master’s in opera, I sing whenever I can. Throughout my time in Tuscany, I have participated in several choirs.

At ISF I wear quite a few hats. I fancy myself a sort of Renaissance woman, with a background in mathematics, history, music (opera), Italian and science, and am always eager to tackle new challenges and help the school community in any way I can. This year at ISF, my primary role is as an upper school science teacher for grades 6-12. In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I also serve as the Upper School Extracurricular Activities Coordinator, I coordinate the Model United Nations program for the 9th and 10th grade students, and I lead the World Speech Day program.

I am thankful for so much this year! I am thankful for my health, my loving family and friends, and my dog Samantha, but I am also thankful to see my smiling students’ faces each day now that the pandemic is at a close and we are no longer masked!

TeRae (Grade 12 student)

I am originally from Alabama and currently in Grade 12 at ISF. For Thanksgiving, my mom and her coworker planned a “friends-giving” that was open for anyone at Camp Darby.

Florence and the US are very different. I’m not really used to the cobblestone roads! When it comes to food, I have found that Italians are more likely to use fresh ingredients compared to most Americans, who tend to cook with preservatives. Also recycling is a much bigger deal here compared to the States. However, in both America and Italy, I think that the concept of family is important. Both countries have beautiful landscapes that you can travel to, like Yellowstone Park or the Alps. There’s also a very similar love/obsession with sports, such as soccer (European) and football (American). It’s very easy to travel in both places.

I’m thankful that I have managed to make great friends since I’ve come to ISF and that my family has managed to adjust to the Italian lifestyle.


We are very proud of our American roots and heritage, and Thanksgiving gives our community an opportunity to celebrate and share thankfulness with one another. This year, as well as a delicious Thanksgiving feast shared by students and staff, students constructed a Thanksgiving tree, adding leaves with Thanksgiving messages, in addition to a gratitude leaf art installation in the Upper School reception area led by Upper School Visual Arts teacher, Andi Nufer.

We also continued our ISF Thanksgiving tradition of collecting food, clothes and other items to be donated to the Comunità di Sant’Egidio for the distribution to homeless people in the city of Florence. Sant’Egidio is an association dedicated to social services and helping the less fortunate. This year, the Sant’Egidio student team from both schools collected more food and clothes than ever before to celebrate the 70th anniversary of our school and the importance of giving back to the community.

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