The International House was filled with dozens of students and staff looking to partake in Italian culture on Feb. 19 at 6 p.m. during Italian Culture Night, an event sponsored by the UTK International House and organized by the Italian Club.
There were several staples of Italian culture present at the event, one of which involved a variety of traditionally prepared food served to the guests that attended. The meal included spaghetti, eggplant parmesan, orange salad and an assortment of sweets.
However, the focus of the event was undoubtedly the performances put on by students currently studying Italian at UT. In the spirit of true Italian entertainment, there were a variety of events that centered on such arts as theatre and opera.
The topic of the night was based on the Italian festival known as Carnivale, in which participants wear ornate costumes and masks. Tarantella, Italian traditional folk music most popular in southern Italy, was played during the event, followed by a series of Italian comedies and dances.
[quote]“They [Italian students] were awesome,” said Francesca Follone, a lecturer of Italian at UT who helped organize the event, “they put their heart into the performances and I think that speaks highly of our department.”[/quote]
Annachiara Mariani, another lecturer of Italian at UT, noted the amount of work that took place to allow such an event to become feasible.
“It took a lot of planning. With all of the food and the events, it took a few months to organize.” When asked about whom it was that was involved in the preparation, Mariani laughed and stated that her colleague Renée D’Elia-Zunino, a professor of Italian and advisor to the Italian Club, “Did most of the planning.”
The importance of this event was something each member of the staff involved with Italian Night believed was crucial.
“I’ll tell you this,” D’Elia-Zunino said. “Carolyn Hodges, [the Dean of the Graduate School here at UT] came to see me earlier and said events like these are the life of the university and I believe that’s true.”
D’Elia-Zunino says the purpose of the event is to illuminate students unfamiliar with Italian culture and give them a taste of a “true” version of Italian fun as opposed to the stereotypes that some Americans may hold about Italy.
“One thing is to know the stereotype,” said D’Elia-Zunino. “And another thing is to sit in the culture and think about how this is so much more than the stereotypes.”
“Its very important for the students to relate what they learned to the culture of the country,” said Follone. “It’s absolutely priceless and simply a wonderful opportunity and we’re very grateful to the International House for letting us do that.”
Edited by Jessica Carr