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National Tourism Week: The Way International Students View Marion County

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FAIRMONT -

Many Marion County residents have lived in the area all of their lives. They know the best places to eat, all of the back roads, and where to go for fun.

What if you could see your beloved home in a way you've never seen it before? Maybe from someone who has never been to West Virginia.

Two international students from Calabria, Italy explain their experiences.

"It is a beautiful place, a beautiful university, and the people are very nice," said Eugenio Osso of Calabria, Italy.

Filippo Panzarella agrees.

"When you live in another country, you can have problems," said Panzarella of Calabria, Italy. "Here in Fairmont, it's easy to meet friends that can help you."

Marion County is using National Tourism Week to bring more people, like Fairmont State University's Italian students, to the area.

"It gives us a chance to promote tourism and to realize it is a viable industry in this area," said Leisha Elliott, Marion County Convention and Visitors Bureau. "It also gives us the opportunity to thank those front line people who interact with visitors."

FSU has partnered with the University of Calabria in Italy to give students a chance to come to Marion County, take classes, and see what the community has to offer.

"The community opens their arms out and the students go to their homes for dinner, activities," said Michael Belmear, Fairmont State University. "They've been to WVU Basketball games, our basketball games. Its really been the whole community that's accepted them."

The students have visited many Marion County favorites.

"We went to Valley Falls," Osso said. "It was a beautiful place."

Panzarella said the state even reminds him of home.

"West Virginia looks like Sila, a place from the south part of Italy," Panzarella said.

One of the main goals of National Tourism Week is to keep people coming back.

"We hope that people will plan their stay-cations and take advantage of some of the attractions we have here in Marion County," Elliott said.

Osso and Panzarella will return to Italy in the coming days, but hope it's not for long.

"I would like to come back here after my graduation," Osso said.

The Marion County Visitor's Center is open Monday through Friday and encourages everyone to come and see what it has to offer.