Photo of Lecture with Jumpa Lahiri

Winners of the Student Contest “Your Metaphor for Learning Italian”

Jury member Patti Grunther, contest winners Allie Aloe and Stephanie Rodriguez, and Inserra Chair Dr. Teresa Fiore‌‌

The Inserra Chair is very pleased to announce the three winners of the “Your Metaphor for Learning Italian” student contest:

– 1st Prize: Stephanie Rodriguez
– 2nd Prize:Danielle Angelo
– 3rd Prize: Allie Aloe

This new contest inspired 40 students to share their metaphors and we thank all the students for responding to the challenge with such creativity! For the jury members, journalist Maria Teresa Cometto, the Cultural Attache` at the Italian Cultural Institute Donatella Baldini and high school teacher Patti Grunther, and Dr. Teresa Fiore as a coordinator, it was a pleasure to read the students’ metaphors which speak to their love for and genuine curiosity towards the Italian language.

As part of the contest prizes, the three winners will receive a signed and dedicated copy of the bilingual version of Lahiri’s book (In Other Words) as well as a beautiful book from a selection of Rizzoli titles.

Congratulazioni vivissime alle vincitrici!

1. Stephanie Rodriguez, Montclair State University  

Learning the Italian language for me was almost similar to learning how to play an instrument, specifically the violin. I remember seeing someone play and being so intrigued, like hearing the sound of a new language and wanting to learn it or touch it. When I first held the instrument it my hand, it was like holding a new born child for the very first time, not knowing exactly how to hold it. Then you start learning your very first words and the very first notes and little by little you start forming sentences, statements, like the sound of the first song you learn on an instrument, it’s unforgettable. Eventually you become involved more and more and it becomes part of you, something that you can never leave. Practicing every day to get better and being proud to play that instrument or to speak coherently in that language becomes your mission. You never truly master the instrument or the language, there is always something new to learn and discover, this is what learning a new language is like to me.

2. Danielle Angelo, Montclair State University

Trying to learn Italian is like jumping into the ocean for the first time. You are excited to jump in, to see what this big magical water is. You have seen your loved ones go in and out of this water adventure. But when you jump in, you see what you had not seen before. There are multiple tastes, multiple elements, there are so many things you did not realize you were going to find out. You explore new surrounds you did not see from just the surface of the ocean’s waves. You feel the sand, the rocks, the shells, occasionally you may get a nibble from a crab. How do I make sure I learn all of a language? How do I make sure I am looking past the surface of an easy conversation? I do not want to offend the fish, but let them know I am open to learning about their sea. I want to learn about the sand, the shells, the fish, the waves, the overall surroundings, but it is not as simple and quick as one hopes. Languages are the sea. They are in depth in more ways than you’ll realize until you attempt to explore them.

3. Allie Aloe, Mount Saint Mary Academy – high school  

Imparare la lingua italiana è come imparare a guidare. All’inizio ho un po’ paura perché è molto differente da ogni cosa che ho fatto prima, però sono entusiasta. L’esperienza è nuovissima, ma l’amo. Quando guido non posso guidare sempre dritto su una strada facile: devo reagire ai bozzi nella strada, il traffico inatteso e gli altri autisti. Durante la classe d’italiano ho problemi con le frasi nuove qualche volta, e non sempre capisco tutto. Quando guido uso i segnali e i semafori per andare nella direzione giusta. In classe chiedo aiuto alla mia insegnante. Dopo le difficoltà, so che la lingua italiana e guidare possono portarmi in posti nuovi: e allora posso vedere un mondo nuovo.

“Your Metaphor for Learning Italian” is sponsored by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University in collaboration with the Italian American Committee on Education (IACE) of New York.