Buona sera! Benvenuti!
Words of welcome filled the air while current and former students of Italian from the Community College of Rhode Island gathered with friends to celebrate Mardigras on Sunday at the Caffe Itri in Cranston. Fifty people attended the event sponsored by the CCRI Italian Club.
Professor Maria Mansella of North Providence, the club's advisor, spoke enthusiastically about the gathering. "During my teaching career I have met many interesting adult learners with strong motivation and sincere interest in learning the Italian language and culture, Prof. Mansella observed.
"This gathering is like a reunion," she continued. "We wanted to know what some of our former students of Italian are doing now. Have they used Italian language outside the classroom? Have they continued their education at a four-year college?"
"Yes", was the resounding answer as former students spoke about their experiences.
Maryann Ricci, a Cumberland business owner, studied Basic Spoken Italian in 1996 and told how Prof. Mansella helped her trace her roots in Italy. "A dream come true" is how Ms. Ricci described her visit to the town of Roccamonfina, her grandmother's hometown, where she met relatives for the first time.
Madeline Capasso of Providence is pursuing a degree in secondary education with a double major in Italian and Spanish at Rhode Island College. Under Prof. Mansella's guidance at CCRI, Ms. Capasso took part in the Honors Program and during the summer of 1996 presented Italian classes for children at the Mayor Salvatore Mancini Union Free Library in North Providence.
This program was so successful that it was presented again last summer at St. Anthony's Parish in North Providence, with the assistance of another CCRI Italian student, Natalie Vecchio of Cumberland. A mother and grandmother who graduated from CCRI last year, Mrs. Vecchio is continuing her education at the University of Rhode Island.
Greg Gonsalves studied at CCRI in 1994, and served as president of the Italian Club. Currently a student at the University of Rhode Island, he studied in Italy last spring and shared his experiences with the group.
In addition to their cultural experiences with he Italian club at CCRI - trips to Boston, New York and Italy; visits to museums; attending the opera - participants in Sunday's gathering celebrated above all the friendships they have developed and maintained.
Honorary guests at the event included Dr. Edward Liston, CCRI president; Dr. Raymond Ferland, dean of Student Affairs; Professor Anthony di Ruzzo, chairman of CCRI's Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures; and Pat Rose, Department Secretary.