A roomful of “ciao’s,” a cluster of distinct personalities, and a unique energy are the first things one notices upon entrance to a meeting of the Italian Club.
“At each meeting of the Italian Club, we introduce a piece of the Italian culture and language to let students know that other cultures exist,” said Americo Marano, professor of Spanish and Italian, and club adviser.
The Italian Club makes its distinct presence known on campus and provides for students a resource to learn more about Italy. “Our club highlights a unique culture as well as cool activities for members to get involved in,” said club president Adriana Macias, 21, hospitality major.
The activities introduced to the members serve to fill the purpose of the club. “The purpose of the Italian club is to introduce students to the Italian culture, to let them explore the culture. It’s not just what we see in the U.S.,” said club treasurer Carmen Rodriguez, 22, sociology major.
In the multiethnic United States people formulate ideas, which may not always be correct about a culture based on different factors.
According to club vice president and history major Cosme Hernandez, 23, the club aspires to bring more culture to the campus. “We really want to knock down the stereotypes that are out there about the Italian culture,” Hernandez said.
The club’s goal is achieved through the events they have planned for the semester, such as trips to the Italian opera and authentic Italian restaurants.
“We do a lot of cultural activities. We’re planning on going to the Getty Villa in Malibu which has a lot of Italian culture to it. And, this semester, we have planned to attend a Sicilian festival in San Diego,” said Macias.
Macias said that organizing such events is her favorite part about leading the club. “I’ve always had an interest in Italian culture and decided to step up to leadership within the club. And, when I did, I found that I loved organizing events. It was exciting to plan things that would teach others about the culture,” she said.
Such events integrate members into the Italian culture.
“Just having one cultural view growing up can make someone narrow-minded. You need to immerse yourself into a culture and not just criticize it from the outside. You can’t really judge someone unless you’ve been in their shoes,” said Hernandez.
Living in this country means being around more cultures, more traditions, and more lifestyles than just one’s own.
“The United States is a very culturally diverse nation and knowing about other cultures is very important. It keeps people tolerant and educated about those around them,” said Rodriguez.
In fact, many of the members and officers of the club are people not of Italian heritage but of diverse backgrounds who are interested in learning about the culture and history of the country.
“The Italian club is not only for Italians. It is for all those that appreciate cultures,” said Marano. “In this global society, we need to be aware of different cultures to do better in the future.”
The club looks towards the future with its eclectic mix of members and its hopes to bring in even more of a crowd.
“It is a very big club. It brings a lot of different people in. Our members aren’t all Italian. The mix is interesting,” said Hernandez.
To guide members are a group of officers who have a passion for the culture and the club, but who themselves are not Italian.
“Many of the officers have taken Italian classes and some of us have studied abroad in Italy with Marano. This helps us to know the culture better and be a bigger help to members,” said Rodriguez.
The club’s cultural activities and opportunities for cultural gain are its selling points in bringing in members. “People should join the club to get more knowledge about a culture besides their own. And Italian culture has a lot of similarities with other cultures. So it’s important to see how other people live and to see the similarities and differences between Italian culture and other cultures around the world,” said Macias.
Besides the knowledge one can gain about Italian culture, becoming a part of this group might mean gaining a whole new group of friends.
“Joining a club is like being in a family. It helps your stay in Mt. SAC for the time you’re here. It makes it fun, so you’re not just here for school. You’re here to have fun, as well, and possibly with a family,” said Hernandez.
Marano said the best way to get a feel for this club is to simply experience it. “Come join us and experience what the Italian culture will give you,” he said.
– Aida Ghorbani
Online Beat Editor