Community College of Rhode Island

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How the Italian Language and Culture Enhances My Educational and Personal Goals

Giulia Gabriele

My parents are from Italy, and as a child I could understand but not speak the language. As I got older and my Italian speaking relatives passed on, I lost touch with the language. Due to illness I haven't been able to work for the past few years. So, to fill up my time, I started taking Italian classes with Professor Mansella at CCRI. My life hasn't been the same since. My Italian studies have opened my doors to many interesting activities and meeting some wonderful people. Beside studying Italian in the classroom, I was also given the opportunity to participate in many interesting educational activities outside the classroom. Last summer I was able to take a trip to Italy. The country was so beautiful. In Verona, I saw "la casa di Giulietta", Giulietta's balcony where she expressed her love for Romeo. In Assisi, I saw St. Francis's Basilica which was magnificent. It amazed me that something built that long ago was still standing. News of the earthquake there broke my heart. I feel truly lucky that I was able to see it before the damage was done. My heart goes out to the people of Assisi on losing such valued treasure. Venice was enchanting with its building along the canals. I took a ride on the gondola and could feel the charm of the city. The artwork in Florence was breathtaking. I saw the famed Baptistery Doors by Ghiberti, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Novella and with my roommate, I climbed the four hundred or so stairs to the top of the Duomo. Rome was our last stop and what an adventure it was! Souvenir booths were set up everywhere, and I was able to buy some momentous. St. Peter's Basilica was my favorite spot because of how grand it is.

I saw may wonderful sights in Italy, and I hope to return there someday. My studies have been an eye-opening experience for me. I did much more than learn the language. Professor Mansella was generous with her knowledge of the culture and customs of Italy.

In my Intermediate classes I read several stories in class. I remember so well "Laude delle Creature" by St. Francis of Assisi; "Una donna sulla Testa" and "La concorrenza" by Alberto Moravia; "Le scarpe rotte" and "Lui ed Io" by Natalia Ginzburg. I also saw several films: "Ciao Professore", Fellini's "La Strada" and "La Ciociara", "Cinema Paradiso" "Il Postino", etc. The discussions that followed were very interesting and I learned so much. I participated in many extra-curriculum activities sponsored by CCRI Italian Club. In fact I served as the Club Secretary/Treasurer from 1993-95 and from Fall 1997 to present. I attended the New York City's Opera Company's production of "La Boheme". It is my favorite opera. I find Puccini's music so beautiful. We sponsored trips to art museums in Boston and New York. We also visited Ellis Island and Little Italy. Our most recent gathering was a Mardi Gras dinner at Caffe Itri in Cranston. The food and atmosphere were excellent. Two students have gone on to major in Italian and Spanish. One student talked about her honors project with Professor Mansella about teaching Italian to young children and another student told us how she traced her family roots to Italy and traveled there to meet her relatives for the first time.

All in all, the study of Italian has been a wonderful experience. I have an elderly aunt who speaks Italian but doesn't remember it well enough to write it. She asked me to write a letter for her to her nice in Italy. How happy she was to be able to correspond with her! The experience of using my Italian was a dream come true for me too.

By reading Italian authors, watching Italian films, going to operas, museums and attending guest speakers presentations, I have come to appreciate the Italian heritage more than I knew I could. I have also made new interesting friends from class and activities that were class related. Meeting all these wonderful people and learning about the Italian language and culture has been the best experience of all. I will treasure the memories for a long time.

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Last Updated: 2/10/14