By Shedeiky Hamilton
The Mercy College Italian Club hosted their Italian Evening on April 22nd, embracing the “Italians of ieri, oggi, e domani” (yesterday, today and tomorrow).
The event was executed by Prof. Alan Hartman, the Director of Modern Foreign Languages, and Italian instructor Rosella Martone. The event hosted almost 100 people. Most of those present were high school students and their parents and people from the local Westchester community. Among them was Mrs. Giovanna DeAngelis, a teacher at Lincoln High School in Yonkers who brought many of her students and their parents. She is also the moderator of the Italian Club at her school.
The evening included four different presentations as well as presentations by high school Italian club members. Presentations were done by Hartman, Michela Musolino and Dr. Evelyn Rossetti.
Hartman’s presentation included “Italians of Ieri,” in which a photographic tour of the Italian immigrants’ lives in New York City was showcased. The presentation focused particularly on the three “Little Italys” of Manhattan, which were Greenwich Village (where Giuseppe Garibaldi and Fiorello La Guardia lived), The Mulberry Street bend of the Lower East Side, which is today officially called New York’s Little Italy, and Italian East Harlem, which was once Manhattan’s largest Italian neighborhood and home to Vito Marcantonio, the first Italian-American senator.
Musolino, who is a very gifted Sicilian folkloric singer and musician, gave a musical presentation about the songs and music of Sicilian immigrants from the turn of the last century.
“I met Michela Musolino this summer, when she was the Artist in Residence of the Italian School at Middlebury College. Her presentation was very moving and excellently executed,” Hartman said.
An Italian teacher and Italian Club moderator at Preston high school in Bronx, Adrianna Martone the daughter of Prof. Rosella Martone, presented together with her students “Italians of Oggi e domani.”
“One of her students, who recently appeared on American Idol, even concluded their presentations by leading the entire room in singing the Italian song “Volare’,” added Hartman.
The final presentation was done by Rossetti of the Westchester Italian Cultural Center who gave a very important presentation about the programs that her foundation offers to its members.
“Dr. Rossetti also offered our students a one year free student membership to her society, and I hope that some of our students will embrace this opportunity to learn further about Italian Culture,” added Hartman.
Italians comprise the fifth largest ethnic group in the United States, with nearly 17 million Americans claiming Italian heritage.
“My hope is to raise awareness and enthusiasm about Italian culture at Mercy College as it is a very large part of our identity as New Yorkers and current or future professionals,” added Hartman.
Currently, students can take five different courses in Italian, including ITAL 199, which is a “Learning in Location” course that takes students to the very Manhattan neighborhoods that were presented at the Gala, as well as others, to study the Italian History and influence of these places.
Hartman adds, “It is my hope to create an Italian minor at Mercy College in another year or two.”
Food and beverages for the evening were donated by Executive Dean of Academic Engagement and Planning, Carolyn Tragni, and Prof. Simeon Guisuraga.
“Professor Martone and I hope that this event will be the first of many such wonderful evenings. In the fall, I hope to release a schedule of events that celebrates the Italian and Hispanic Cultures which comprise the two largest components of the Modern Foreign Languages program at Mercy College,” said Hartman. “Some of my students who are Spanish majors have even asked to join in the planning of such events, and I look forward to working with them.”