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Vicini Americani Program unites Aviano AB Wyverns with local community

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jessica Blair
  • 31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs
Vicini Americani (VA), directly translating to "American neighbors", partnered with various organizations and agencies from around the 31st Fighter Wing to bring the installation and local Italian communities together in all new ways.

Established in 2019, VA is a purely volunteer-based organization at Aviano AB made up of Americans and Italians. Membership includes active duty service members, spouses and dependents over 18, civilians, government service (GS) employees, local nationals, retirees, honorary squadron commanders and everyone in between.

The intent of the organization is to create and strengthen connections between Americans and local communities through volunteer opportunities and social events, while also helping to ease the transition to life overseas.

They work toward these goals by building a strong and supportive joint community in the nearby towns where Americans and Italians live side by side as neighbors, helping newcomers as a consulting resource while they get settled in and adapt to the Italian way of life.

“Vicini Americani is a precious and resourceful group, [they are] the right way to be able to put together the American and Italian communities in order to enjoy the times together, especially within our neighborhood,” said Mario della Toffola, Polcenigo mayor. “I am very grateful for each volunteer and I will personally recognize their work.”

VA also creates town guides found in the Aviano phone app and other social media platforms with the goal of providing information and to assist in exploring Italy. These guides also distribute information about things happening in the local area, places to visit and things to do.

"Vicini Americani is a beneficial asset to the Aviano [AB] community,” said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Brandon Wright, 31st Operations Support Squadron wing intelligence superintendent and Vicini Americani program manager. “Our goal is to promote and spread the message that we are here for everyone and will assist in any way we can to build that sense of community and belonging while living here in Italy."

Additionally VA organizes networking events and opportunities such as meet ups, happy hours and dinners located in different towns around Aviano AB where service members of all ranks, dependents, civilians, GS employees, local nationals, retirees and honorary squadron commanders are welcome to attend to socialize and network.

“The participation of VA in the Giovani In Movimento summer camp in Polcenigo, gave our kids the big opportunity to practice English while having fun,” said Oliva Quaia, town council member and education advisor. “I hope we will continue this collaboration during the years.”

Moreover, they collaborate with local municipalities and organizations for community outreach opportunities together with Force Support Squadron, Airman Family Readiness Center, Top 3, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR), spouses group, Aviano Airmen’s council and more. Lastly, they teach English to children at summer camps, middle and high schools in towns surrounding Aviano AB as part of their English Teaching Program.

“This is a great opportunity for the kids because they get to speak English in this informal setting where if they make a mistake it’s not a big deal because there is no pressure,” said Daria Gorbunova, Giovani In Movimento Village Polcenigo summer camp director.

Overall, the Vicini Americani organization seeks to provide a wealth of resources and opportunities for anyone stationed at Aviano AB that is looking to connect to the community. They can be found at their Facebook page, where they provide information and volunteer opportunities for interested parties.

“We would like to thank all of you. The volunteers are very helpful, very nice and open minded people,” said Gorbunoya.