FCI 029 – Promoting Italian Culture in America
Sometimes this humble little activity of mine opens up a few doors to Italian culture and society that otherwise I wouldn’t have access to. And on this occasion, I’ve really scored some fascinating guests on my podcast, including Dottoressa Gloria Marina Bellelli, the Consulate General of Italy in Miami. Her resume is impressive, to say the least. Before arriving in Miami this year, she has served her country in places such as Algeria and Israel. I’m honored that she took time out of her schedule to speak with me.
Please keep in mind that all of the guests on today’s podcast should have been separate episodes in their own rights. But I decided to put them together because, 1) the interviews all occurred at the same location on the same day, and; 2) they are all short little chats, so I thought it better for you, the listener, to take them all in at once, and finally; 3) there is a common theme of promoting Italian culture and Italian-American traditions that runs through all four conversations.
Promoting Italian Culture
At the end of November, I attended a luncheon hosted by Il Circolo, the Italian-American Cultural Society of Palm Beach County. I’ve participated in a few of their events in the past, including last year’s Palm Beach Italian Week, which I wrote about several months ago. Their contributions to the preservation of Italian culture in South Florida are nothing short of heroic. It’s safe to say that without their leadership and support, the university programs in Italian would not exist, among other things.
Speaking of university programs, one of the other interviews on the podcast today is with Dottoressa Myriam Swennen Ruthenberg, one of my former professors at Florida Atlantic University.
I’ve never met anybody more passionate about promoting Italian culture, and the literature inspired by its beautiful language. I spent an entire semester studying Dante’s Divine Comedy under her tutelage, and it left a lasting appreciation on me of how that masterpiece of the late Middle Ages shaped the future of the Italian language, and set the benchmark for all literature in the world from that point forward.
I also had the privilege of speaking with Dottor Eufrasio Volpe, who is a language teacher at Pope John Paul II High School in Boca Raton. I was thrilled to learn about the program that he heads up at the high school level, because I believe that it’s important to get kids excited about Italian culture as early as possible.
We talked a little about the Italian-American experience, and how it changed from the late 19th and early 20th century, to the modern version where Italians moving to the US are now more encouraged to embrace their identity.
And finally I spoke with Paul Finizio, who is a South Florida attorney, a recognized public speaker, and president of Il Circolo. Paul’s enthusiasm and commitment to promoting Italian culture in South Florida are unparalleled. He’s hosts every event, always with passion and energy.
Paul underlines the importance of family, which perhaps is THE common trait between Italians and Italian-Americans. Italian immigrants in the U.S. have always been very proud of both their old country, and their new one. Paul echoes this sentiment, always wearing two pins on the lapel of his jacket; the flags of both countries.
Thanks to all of my guests on the podcast today, and providing me with additional inspiration to help keep the spirit of Italian culture alive in the United States. It is something that is very personal to me, both as the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, and as the father of my little Italian princess.