Progetto Scuole: Journalism & the Diffusion of the Italian Language
Italians are always delighted to see any interest in their language among Americans and others around the globe. It makes them proud to be Italian, to be part of a culture that many people of different ethnicities wish to emulate, especially their way of life, their expressive language, and the study of their vast and expansive history.
I was able to see this excitement on the faces of the Italian panel at the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE) Awards Ceremony, honoring exemplary students of Italian and their independent projects relating to a contest concerning the Italian piazza, sponsored by ProgettoScuole. The members of the panel included IACE Chairman Dr. Angelo Gimondo, IACE President Berardo Paradiso, IACE Executive Director Tina Rella, Director of Education Office of the Consulate Generale of Italy in NY, Prof. Alfio Russo, editor and journalist Anna Letizia Airos Soria, IACE Italian language teacher Ilaria Costa, as well as Consul General Hon. Francesco Maria Talò. Each panel member wholeheartedly thanked and congratulated the selected students for their diligent work, while offering encouraging words to continue their study of Italian and stressing the necessity of studying another language and culture in today’s globalized world, especially here in the United States. Prof. Anthony J. Tamburri, Dean of the Calandra Insitute at the College University of New York (CUNY) and President of the American Association of Teachers of Italian, spoke briefly on the importance of the continuation and support of the AP Program in Italian towards the end of the presentation.
IACE with ProgettoScuole sponsored a contest called “La piazza italiana,” where students were free to present their own feelings, experiences, and research about the famous Italian piazza, as long as their work was submitted in Italian.
Many students wrote beautiful poems, essays, and even made their own films about different piazza that they submitted to the contest, which were highly personal and touched the hearts of the Italian panel and audience members, including the winning students themselves, their parents and teachers. While all students’ works submitted to the contest were all praiseworthy, only seventeen students were selected as winners: Felicia Filiatreault and Cristina Knowles with their teacher Claudio Scarpelli of Sayles School in Connecticut, Iyvon Edebiri and Gina Medranda Duran with teachers Mario Costa and Elisabeth Mansfield of Fiorello La Guardia High School in New York, Paola Sirica and Daniela Cracolici with their teacher Maria Posa of San Francis of Assisi in Astoria, Michelle Guo and JonathanMaschio with their teacher Rina Miraglia of Ho-Ho-Kus Public School in New Jersey, Emily La Guardia with her teacher Maria Figura of Port Chester Middle School in New York, Robert Brandy and Danielle Murphy with their teacher Lucrezia Lindia of Eastchester High School in New York, Cristina George and Elise Petracca with their teacher Gabriella Scaldaferri of Manhasset Public School in New York, Carl Veith with his teacher Kristina Caramele of P.S. 71 in the Bronx, Daven Shah with his teacher Maria Abate of Palisades Park High School in New Jersey, Michael Kosowski with his teacher Michelle Scibetta of Italian Academy in Staten Island, and Chiara Gerek with her teacher Adriana Vitale of Garden City High School in New York.
These top students were rewarded with a certificate and a two-week stay in beautiful Lignano Sabbiadoro in Florence to participate in IACE’s Summer Program with Prof. Alfred Valentini who will accompany these students on their unique “linguistic journey.” After the panel’s comments and the awards presentation, the students were treated to a complimentary lunch of various panini, appetizers, fresh fruit, and tempting desserts.
IACE is an important institution here in New York, whose primary goal is to promote the study of Italian in the tri-state area. ProgettoScuole is an online project that uses journalism as an educational tool, where students of the Italian language and culture along with their teachers can easily publish their articles online and create their own scholastic newspaper. It is under the journalistic supervision of Anna Letizia Airos Soria and the editorial management of Ilaria Costa and was started two years ago from an exchange between the Italian Consulate in New York, IACE, the newspaper AmericaOggi, and the Internet company DigiItalians.. It seeks not only to instill the love of the Italian language in students here in the United States, but also to stimulate involvement in journalism and its essential techniques at an early age. Both groups work together in conjunction with the Consul General of Italy stationed in New York.
So, can we say Italian is the most popular language among American middle and high school students? Probably not—it has been surpassed for about fifty years by an overwhelming number of students taking Spanish, Chinese, French, and even German. But as evidenced by the afternoon’s presentation, we can say that the interest in learning Italian is still alive and well among American students, with an increasing number of students each year who are struck by both the language and beautiful culture and those who undertake independent projects to learn more about it.
For more information about ProgettoScuole, please visit www.progettoscuole.org.