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Italian cultural society helps students with scholarships, travel

Since Il Circolo, The Italian Cultural Society of the Palm Beaches, extended its programs to the Department of Language, Linguistics and Comparative Studies in 2000, hundreds of students havebenefited from scholarships in FAU’s Venice and Ovierto summer programs.

Il Circolo, The Italian Cultural Society of the Palm Beaches, was created in 1976 by a group of Italian-Americans who wanted to preserve the Italian culture, art and language in the United States. The nonprofit organization sponsors a variety of social and cultural events, and donates money to educational institutions that promote study in Italy.

The organization has given money to Palm Beach Atlantic and Florida Atlantic universities. It also has contributed with the Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, Lake Worth High School, Pope John Paul II High School and St. Andrews School.

“Since 2000, students has been receiving $5,000 each year from an Il Circolo scholarship for the Venice summer program, in which they take courses in Italian studies and architecture, as well as for the Orvieto summer program, in which they take Italian arts through a course called ‘Textures and Impressions,” said Ilaria Serra, the Venice program leader.

The Italian summer program lasts 12 weeks, broken into two segments. Summer Term I runs from May 15 to June 26 in Venice, and Summer Term II runs from June 26 to Aug. 6 in Orvieto.

Students of Language, Linguistics and Comparative Studies must have at least a 2.5 grade-point average to qualify for the program, during which they have to take at least two courses of three or four credits each.

The Orvieto program offers two classes, Reading the City and Studio Art. The Venice program offers four classes: Italian 1, Advanced Italian, Architecture and Urbanism and Venetian Culture and Literature. Students can take two of them, Serra said.

Each program has 20 to 25 students, and the costs are similar.

The Venice program costs $3,275, which includes housing, some meals, pre-departure orientation, visits to museums, three excursions, transportation and basic insurance, on-site support staff and on-site orientation.

The Orvieto program costs $3,335, which includes lodging, some meals, kitchen privileges to cook other meals, basic health insurance and visits to museums, excursions and mini-workshops with local artisans.

Neither of the program fees covers airfare, FAU tuition or books.

All students must apply for Il Circolo scholarship; but only 10 will qualify to receive $500 each per summer. Candidates must be FAU degree-seeking students and submit a completed FAU application for the study abroad program.

In addition, students must write a personal statement, explaining how the program would contribute to their academic, professional and personal goals. Transcripts are required, as well.

One of the students who qualified for the Il Circolo scholarship in Summer 2009 was Susanna Modesto, who spent six weeks in Venice.

Modesto described her experience as a travel of two fused words--the traditional Venice with the Piazza San Marco, the Grand Canal and the gondoliers, and the contemporary Venice with people walking on the streets, reading in the squares, sharing with their families or eating in restaurants, like Americans do in this country.

“It was a city full of life. I would often go for walks, getting so lost in the maze bridge numerous times, but loving and appreciating every minute of it … the young family out for an evening stroll along the water, the gondoliers laughing and cooling off with a gelato, the well-dressed businessman reading the paper on the vaporetto and the elderly women gossiping on the park bench,” Modesto wrote in a thank-you letter to Il Circolo members.

Program leader Serra and Emanuelle Pettener, a native of Venice, taught the language classes, often outdoors in cafes, stores and markets, where students had the opportunity to interact with Italian people.

Modesto called the trip a beautiful experience, which improved her confidence to speak Italian more fluently and showing her a new perspective on Venice that she would have never imagined.

Another FAU student who benefited from Il Circolo scholarship was Alexys Seiler, an art major, who traveled to Orvieto during the summer 2009 program, “Textures and Impressions.”

Seiler described her experiences with artisans and natives of Venice, from whom she learned about the cultural and costumes, as well as techniques inspired in Etruscans. She shared this experience with Stacy Creech, a photography major, who experimented with materials such as clay, tufa, stone and marble.



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