Five-time Oscar winner Federico Fellini once said, “A different language is a different vision of life.” As a world-renowned film director, Fellini captured many aspects of life through his lens, immersing us in various cultures. Fellini believed that exposure to different languages forces us to see the world from the perspective of the people who speak those languages and the cultures in which they live.
I am proud to have been named the ente gestore (president) of Italidea-Midwest as of January 2020. Italidea-Midwest is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to teaching students the Italian language as well as the traditions and culture of la bell’Italia. The organization works in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Italian Consulate General in Chicago, which has jurisdiction over Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming.
Italidea-Midwest has a long history of providing financial support to middle schools in the Chicago and St. Louis areas, thanks to contributions from the ministry and the fundraising efforts of local groups. We are proud to support the Italian language programs at Andrew Jackson Academy, District 214, Herrin High School, Indian Trail Junior High School, Jay Stream Middle School, LaSalle Language Academy, Roosevelt Middle School, South Middle School, Stratford Middle School, St. Ambrose Middle School and Union Ridge Middle. The funds we raise help pay for teacher salaries and educational materials, as well as professional development and seminars for teachers at all levels. Our goal is to maintain these extremely successful programs while seeking to create new ones.
I learned a lot about Italidea-Midwest while serving as a member of the board, and I’m thrilled to now serve as president. Our goal is to generate additional revenue through cultural events and other fundraisers while pursuing donations from benefactors who share our vision of providing even more assistance to area schools.
The Italidea-Midwest board consists of an impressive cadre of academic and community leaders, including Dr. Tonia Bernardi-Triggiano, Antonino Bondi, Nancy Cometa, John Conenna, Carla DeFlorio, Frank DiPiero, Ivana DiPiero, Nancy Loglisci, Dolores Pigoni-Miller, Graziano Pinna, Dr. Carla Simonini, Joanne Spata, Raffaella Spilotro, Olivia Szpunar and Barbara Tomasina. We look forward to working with the entire community to provide Italian language opportunities to as many age groups in as many locations as possible.
We are grateful for the support of the Italian American Executives of Transportation, Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, JCCIA Women’s Division, Order Sons and Daughters of Italy Grand Lodge of Illinois and Wisconsin, and a host of individual donors. But it is imperative that we expand that base of support in the face of funding cuts that make the task before us even more challenging.
Like Fellini’s, my vision is to immerse Italian-American students in the language and culture of their ancestors through a variety of classroom and real-world experiences. We want to provide those same opportunities to students of other backgrounds. To do that, we need the participation of the community in field trips and internship opportunities, as well as in-classroom demonstrations of food, entertainment, commerce and the arts.
We plan on launching a campaign to raise larger sums from individual and corporate benefactors. To participate in this program, contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Meanwhile, our webmaster, Loredana Weber, is working to enhance our online presence. Continue to visit www.italidea-midwest.org to learn more about our mission and upcoming events as well as the schools we support. You can also make a tax-deductible donation online. In addition to welcoming financial contributions, we encourage you to offer goods and services that contribute to authentic Italian experiences for our students.
As we celebrate the 100th birthday of the immortal Federico Fellini, we are reminded of his great love of la bella lingua and la bell’Italia. Please join us in spreading that love throughout our schools.
The above appears in the May 2020 issue of the print version of Fra Noi. Our gorgeous, monthly magazine contains a veritable feast of news and views, profiles and features, entertainment and culture. To subscribe, click here.