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Business Italian Style – 2014

Business Italian Students Interview Local Entrepreneurs for the Newspaper La Voce di NY

Business Interviews Italian Style logo

What are the cultural values that underlie Italian businesses in the metropolitan areas of New York and New Jersey? What class-related projects have the ability to demonstrate to students the professional relevance of Italian Studies today? In Fall 2014, students at Montclair State University had the unique opportunity to participate in a project entitled “Business Italian Style,” whose main goal was to actively link the study of Italian language and culture to local Made-in-Italy businesses. Eighteen students from the Business Italian course and two students from the School of Communication and Media prepared for, conducted, produced, and edited interviews with prominent business people and creators in four key Made-in-Italy sectors (design, fashion, art, and food). The final product was four subtitled video interviews and related articles in Italian published by the students in the newspaper La Voce di New York in February 2015 (the project as a whole has registered over 100,000 views as of Dec. 8, 2015):

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Spearheaded and supported by the Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies, and integrated into both a Fall 2014 class in Italian (ITAL 321 “Commercial Italian”) taught by Dr. Enza Antenos and a Cooperative Education course in Italian taught by Dr. Teresa Fiore, this project is the result of a collaboration that includes the Italian Program at Montclair State University (Department of Spanish and Italian), the Italian-language online newspaper La Voce di New York and the NJ-based film production company, Art Motion Picture.

Eighteen students of Italian were split up into four groups by sector (Design, Fashion, Art, Food), while the School of Communication and Media students were assigned specific roles for filming. After an initial illustration of the goals of the project at a Sept. 15 lecture titled “The Business Video-Interview: Goals and Strategies” by Maurita Cardone (Deputy Editor of La Voce di New York),and Giuseppe Malpasso (cinematographer and founder of Art Motion Picture), students researched their specific topic and created a set of questions in Italian for eight business people and creators active in various Italocentric sectors in NY-NJ: Gaetano Pesce (Designer and Architect); Federico Materazzi (Executive VP, Americas Poltrona Frau Group); Cecilia Alemanni (Director, High Line Art); Laura Mattioli, (Founder, CIMA, Center for Italian Modern Art); Alberto Milani (CEO, Buccellati Americas); Tiziano Zorzan (Fashion designer); Melissa M. Daka (Chef and Owner of the Sicilian restaurant Eolo); and Sabbia Auriti (COO, The N Beverage Group and Gruppo Fooding).

The interviews took place over two days in both New York City and New Jersey, and represented a special opportunity for the students to really experience the worlds of design, food, fashion, and art by meeting the interviewees in their own workplaces. The newspaper articles that resulted from these encounters were written in Italian, with the embedded video-interviews produced in Italian with English subtitles. Students developed their questions based on materials provided by Dr. Antenos on Italian business and specific Italian companies. Maurita Cardone secured the contacts for the interviews and supervised the editing of their content during the semester. A CHSS Cooperative Education opportunity with Art Motion Picture was offered to a student with proven experience as a camera/audio operator, a basic knowledge of Italian (two semesters), and also enrolled in an Italian class in the Fall semester. Supervised by Dr. Fiore, this student worked hand in hand with a recent alumnus of Montclair State University. Their shooting and editing work was in part supervised by Giuseppe Malpasso who gave an in-class presentation on content and video editing in November 2014. The entire team of students, professors and off-campus professionals communicated via a WordPress blog and Google Docs. After the publication of the articles on La Voce di New York, three students from the ITAL321 class offered to translate them in order to make them accessible to the English-speaking audience of the newspaper.


In terms of academic goals, the project has allowed students to develop their familiarity with the business vocabulary of the Italian language, both written and oral, in real-life contexts, while also developing professional skills (journalism and filmmaking). The students gained exposure to a cross-section of business sectors thus equipping themselves with “real world” experiences (communication strategies; negotiation skills; knowledge of local Italian markets/production; familiarity with regulations in the E.U. and U.S. markets for Italian products) that will doubtlessly be useful for future job opportunities nationally and internationally. In particular, the project made students more aware of the multiple uses of a B.A. in Italian in commercial areas where knowledge of Italian culture and language is crucial to success.

Indirectly, the project also gave visibility to businesses with an Italian connection. Their successful experiences are at the heart of the attention and respect Italy enjoys as a G8 country, which in turn enhances interest in the study of Italian language and culture among students who may also be majoring in other disciplines such as Communication and Media, Business, Arts, Nutrition, Design, etc. According to a market study [KPMG Italia, 2010], “Made in Italy”is the third most known brand worldwide, after Coca-Cola and Visa. Online research with “Made in Italy” as keyword increased by 153% from 2006 to 2010.

This project confirms the dynamism of the Italian program’s course offerings and the interdisciplinary nature of its vision. The goals of the project are closely aligned with the University’s 2011 Strategic Plan including increasing real-world work experiences for students via internship and co-op opportunities.
Goal 1 Objective F: real-world learning and cooperative education experiences (p. 9) and Objective G: co-curricular activities (p. 9);
Goal 2 Objective B: off campus partnerships and new modes of instruction (p. 11);
Goal 3 Point B: Innovative approaches to regional issues (p. 13);
Goal 4 Objective E: Dynamic approach to learning a language (p. 16);
Goal 5 Objective G: Acquaint public with MSU projects (p. 21).

Students Involved In the Project

Italian Program: Angela Kovacs, Iris Comune, Serena Pederiali, Dariell Vasquez, Christina Petrillo, Domenico Lisa, Angela Percontino, Annamaria Grammatica, Alexa Arcaini, Sara Busch, Angelene Agresta, Emilia D’Albero, Stephanie White, Gabrielle Grudza, Angela Emiliani, Thomas Prudente, Alexia Stabile, Sandra Scavuzzo.

School of Communication and Media: Jarrett Strenner (major: TV production; minor: Italian).

Alumnus (Filmmaking Program): Omar Portilla (class 2014).

Bios Of Experts Involved In The Project

Enza Antenos, Assistant Professor of Italian (Montclair State University)

An expert in technology-enhanced language learning with publications on topics such as acquisition of elementary Italian, the professional preparation of Italian teachers, and social networking and online collaboration in Foreign Language Learning, Antenos-Conforti is interested in the integration of technological tools through pedagogically sound goals. Providing students with real-life situations beyond the classroom, opportunities to interact both organically and authentically with classmates and native speakers, and to broaden the ways in which they use every day tools to encourage life-long learning are central elements in her teaching. She has pioneered numerous investigations in learning management systems and the personal web (Horizon Report 2009; mobile-assisted language learning (iPods, iPads and various mobile apps repurposed for language learning); and social media (Twitter, blogging, Facebook). Blogging on open blog hosts has allowed her students to develop different writing styles on a variety of cultural concepts in her content-specific courses, including general linguistics and business as well as courses off site (Florence Study Abroad Program).
See Profile – Enza Antenos

Maurita Cardone, Deputy Editor, La Voce di New York

Maurita Cardone is an Italian journalist with over ten years of experience in the field. Her articles and videos have been featured by a number of Italian media outlets. She has been a regular contributor to Il Sole 24 ore (The Italian Financial Times) for the past five years, and has reported from New York for the last three. Starting April 2013, she has been the Deputy Editor of the online magazine La Voce di New York, a Manhattan-based daily which chiefly focuses on the local Italian community and its culture. Prior to that, she was an editor for the environmentalist magazine La nuova ecologia in Rome. While working for the magazine, she developed a two-year video-journalism program, which involved high school students filming interviews for a final newscast project.
Twitter account:

Giuseppe Malpasso, Filmmaker, Art Motion Picture

An Italian producer, director, and cinematographer based in the New York area, Malpasso has worked with Italian broadcasting networks such as RAI (the largest television company in Italy), Mediaset, Sky Italia, LA7, and MTV (Italy) as well as international ones: RTL, MTV, National Geographic International (UK), TSI (Switzerland), Seven Network (Australia), TVNZ (New Zealand), BBC (US-UK), Discovery Channel (UK), and AP Associate Press (US). His work has been shown at the Venice and Tribeca film festival, and at the MOMA, New York. In 2008 and 2012, he covered much of the presidential campaign in the U.S. He won a Gold Panda Award for Best Cinematography at the Sichuan TV Festival in China for the documentary Last Stop on a community of seniors in New Jersey. Malpasso has filmed several interviews with entrepreneurs from Italy (see the following titles in the video selection below — Art and Technology Save African Children and Alice in Wonderland). He has taught the course “Art & Science of Narrative Filmmaking” at Saint Petersburg College, St. Petersburg, FL (2010); the Princeton Adult School, Princeton, NJ (2010-13); and at the Manhattan Edit Workshop, New York (2010-12).
Website: and
See video selection

Teresa Fiore, Inserra Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies (Montclair State University)

Teresa Fiore is Associate Professor and Inserra Endowed Chair in Italian and Italian American Studies at Montclair State University, NJ. As part of her research, she has published several articles in journals and edited books (Teaching Italian American Literature, Film, and Popular Culture) on the topics of foreign immigration in Italy and Italian emigration abroad, including the recent flow of businesspeople and entrepreneurs to the U.S. Besides conducting research and teaching courses on modern and contemporary Italian culture that emphasize the role of Italy in today’s globalized scenario, she directs a regular series of cultural programs that serve both Montclair State University students and faculty and the residents of the NY/NJ area.  Of particular relevance for the project described in this proposal is the Not Just for Techies round table organized in April 2014 in collaboration with the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship at Montclair, which in focusing on the role of the humanities in the start-up sector spurred interesting conversations on the DIY economy in the NJ-NY area especially with respect to humanities-inflected areas (journalism, etc.) – for a video and articles see Media Coverage of Events (Spring 2014) at
See Profile – Teresa Fiore

The project was presented at the Italian Trade Agency in New York on June 2nd, 2015 (see June 2nd program)