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News and Announcements

NJIHC (New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission) donates $10,000 to Summer Italian Intensive Course for HS students

Posted in: CHSS News, Homepage News and Events, Inserra Chair News and Announcements

From left: Marisa Trubiano (MSU), Robert DiBiase (NJIHC Chair), Teresa Fiore (MSU), Patti Grunther (WHRHS)

The Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies and the Italian Program are profoundly grateful to the New Jersey Heritage Commission, in particular to Mr. Robert DiBiase, for the generous donation of $10,000 which will fund scholarships for the 2019 Summer Italian Intensive Course for College Credit.

The summer course, now in its third edition, is an innovative approach to fostering the study of Italian across education systems: HS students are immersed in Italian language and culture for three weeks on a university campus. The result of a dynamic synergy between a HS teacher and two university professors, the course benefits the HS system by taking students to a more advanced level thanks to this pre-AP experience, and it strengthens the university efforts in outreach and retention. Studying a language for many years is an asset for personal success as much as it is for community building. The long and rich history of the Italian presence in NJ (and the Tri-State area at large) has created a large network of schools where Italian is taught: this state investment can only be made more impactful if students continue studying Italian after graduation. The support of a state-wide commission is fundamental in this effort.

The generous donation of $ 10,000 enabled the assignment of several scholarships for the Summer Italian Intensive Course. Scholarships have been granted based on demonstrated financial need (family income related to number of family members, as well as eligibility for meal vouchers in school). They have covered tuition only, or tuition, room and board combined.

Scholarship winners:

Kimberly Briceno (Watchung Hills Regional HS), Christine Tanko (Watchung Hills Regional HS), Varronika Siryon (Elizabeth HS), Chelsea Flores (Elizabeth HS), Jessica Martinez (Elizabeth HS), Nicole Trucios (Bloomfield HS), Carmen Nieto Walle (Lenape HS), Gabriella Rayne Raad (Red Bank Regional HS), Andrew Little (West Orange HS)

“The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission is constantly in pursuit of our mission to educate and raise the awareness of our culture and positive achievements. The development and implementation of the Summer Italian Intensive Course for College Credit by the Italian Program and Inserra Chair in Italian American Studies at MSU is an example of a perfect project that coincides with our mission and is inspirational in our vision: we commend Teresa Fiore, Patti Grunther and Marisa Trubiano for their untiring efforts to bring this project to fruition. We know that funding is a necessity for young students, so we seek ways to channel donations to programs such as this one,” Robert DiBiase, Chair of NJIHC, commented.

The course has only grown in diversity over the years: next to Anglophones, including a good number of Italian Americans, students of Hispanic, African, and Slavic background have signed up to follow their passion for Italian. Some students, regardless of their ethnic background, state in their applications that summer programs are not an option for their family incomes. This MSU course is committed to economic and cultural diversity in equal ways.

Patti Grunther, course coordinator, emphasizes the importance of the donation: “I am thrilled that the NJ Italian Heritage Commission has donated so generously to the Montclair State summer course. The Commission’s support will fund scholarships that allow many deserving students to deepen their knowledge of and passion for Italian language and culture. In addition, this donation will help us build stronger ties within the K-16 system, in particular strengthening the bonds between high schools and universities, connections that open up new directions and opportunities for Italian studies.”

Crossing language and cultural boundaries with agility is both a professional tool in a globalized world and a tool of understanding and peace-making among people with different backgrounds both in the U.S. and in the world.This type of inter-cultural work starts at the state level, and especially in a mixed state like New Jersey, and at the campus level, especially one like MSU’s which is so inclusive. Both are ideal places to develop inter-comprehension initiatives involving several languages.

“We are grateful to the NJIHC for its support of this innovative course, as we collaboratively work to strengthen the presence of Italian in the entire state of New Jersey – from north to south – and beyond. This generous donation, along with all the others from which the students are benefitting this year, are a testament to the community’s commitment to preserving and promoting one of the many languages that makes New Jersey, one of the most linguistically diverse,” Marisa Trubiano, Associate Professor of Italian and co-developer at Montclair State University, also expresses her gratitude towards the NJIHC.

Teresa Fiore, Associate Professor and Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, remarks: “I am profoundly grateful to the New Jersey Heritage Commission, in particular to Mr. Robert DiBiase with whom over the years I have conducted a very interesting and productive conversation about teaching and learning Italian in New Jersey, both in the High School and the University systems through a bridge program such as the Summer Italian Intensive Course for College Credit. This partnership reflects the overlapping of the mission of the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies/Italian Program at Montclair State University and the New Jersey Heritage Commission for the promotion of Italian language and culture in our area. We look forward to more collaborations.”

Fundraising efforts for these initiatives are developed in contact with the MSU Foundation.