Italian Cultural dinner draws over a hundred students

The Italian Heritage Dinner drew a large crowd last Thursday as the month celebrating Italian culture drew to a close.

Carmela Scala, professor of languages and literatures, said the dinner was a huge success.

“I was expecting around 60 people, but it turns out that over 160 people showed up,” she said.

Scala helped organize the event and said she was very proud of the turn out.

The dinner was not just aimed at the community members with Italian heritage, but the entire St. John’s community, which helped to showcase the unity and support for all cultures here at St. John’s.

Maria Gambino, vice president of the Italian Cultural Society said the month is a way for students to “dip their feet” into

the Italian culture and help recruit and get students interested in the organization.

Suzanne Hall said that during her five years here, this was her first time going to an event.

“I saw it on the website and figured that I have to take advantage of the opportunities here. What I like about the event is that they recognize all cultures,” she said.

Taifha Baker, a diversity peer educator, said that “this is my passion” and that she is proud to support events like this that help broaden student’s understanding of the world at large.

Speaker Joseph Sciortino opened the event with a speech about the Italian spirit and responsibility to help the human race through education.

With various awards, under his belt, he spoke of the importance of giving back to the community that supports its people.

“Tonight, we’re family here. I am the other and the other is me. We are here

for one truth, one purpose: to better the common good and dignity of the human people,” Sciortino said.

He talked about creating a “culture of peace” by supporting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by infusing these values into the youth through education.

Scala announced the recipients of four awards given by the Italian Cultural Society.

The first award was given to the “Outstanding Staff Member” and was received by Elisa Martellacio, a graduate assistant with a Bachelor of Arts in Italian.

The second award was given to Gamma Kappa Alpha Honor Society for recognition as an “Outstanding Greek Letter Organization.”

The “Maria Montessori Award’s for Education” was given to three professors at the University who were recognized as examples of education and commitment to the scholastic community. Dr. Fiorrintina

Russo-Cipolla, Dr. Phyllis Povell, and Professor Annalissa Sacca were all recipients.

An award for “Outstanding Student Leaders” was given out to students that participated in and organized the Italian Heritage month. Anthony Buscarino, Giuseppe Brunno-Chomin, president of Gamma Kappa Alpha, Maria Gambino, vice president of the Italian Cultural Society, and Rita Mannino, president of the Italian Cultural Society received this award.

The night concluded with an Italian style dinner provided by Gino’s.