Friday, January 28, 2011

Italian Regents Exam in Jeopardy

Earlier this year, The NYS Office of Elementary, Middle, Secondary, and Continuing Education proposed a measure to eliminate all high school language Regents exams, except Spanish and French. Other foreign language exams on the chopping block include: Hebrew, Latin, and German. The cuts originally proposed in June 2010 , were suggested by the State Education Department in response to a request in April 2010 from NYSUT, New York State School Boards Association, and School Administrators Association of New York State, for an additional 7 million from the state budget to preserve the state's comprehensive assessment exam. The reason for the budgetary shortfall are explained, at least in part, by a increase of more than 30 million dollars in carrying out evaluations for grades 5-8 that are mandated by No Child Left Behind.

A December report from the NYS Department of Education on the Regents 2011-12 Conceptual Proposal on State Aid to School Districts suggests the elimination of all examinations not needed for Federal accountability as one of three options being considered to address the state deficit. These subjects include the following Regents exams: Italian, French, Spanish, US History and Government, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science and Geometry. However, this is the least favored option, as the State Department of Education feels it will "erode educational accountability."

The Board of Regents are responsible for the general supervision of all educational activities within the State, including the The University and the New York State Education Department. Regents examinations are required in New York State for most high school students to graduate.

Earlier this week, the American Association of Teachers of Italian issued an urgent appeal to members of the community, asking them to resist the elimination of the New York State Regents examinations by signing an online petition.

A recent e-mail from the National Association of Italian American Women (NOIAW) in support of the petition suggested the elimination of the Italian exam my have larger implications, the end of thousands of Italian language courses.

The e-mail provided figures for the change in number of test takers for all six languages from June 2006 through 2009.

Italian - 8,250 (7,949 in 2006 )

Latin - 2,223 (2,161 in 2006)

German - 2,076 (2,148 in 2006)

Hebrew - 149 (124 in 2006)

French - 17, 076 (18,503 in 2006)

Spanish - 86,780 (83,495 in 2006)

While, the French exam test takers have declined by 7% and German by 3.3%, Latin examination test takers have increased by just under 3%, Hebrew 3.3%, Spanish 3.9%, andItalian by 3.7%. It would be seemingly hard to justify cuts to any of these programs based on these numbers alone.

This news is especially devastating, as the AP Italian exam was just reinstated earlier this month, after an almost two year struggle from many Italian and Italian organizations to restore it.

Just yesterday, a large snowstorm caused school cancellation's in New York City and its surrounding suburbs. This left many student's who were scheduled to take Regents exams, and the teachers that worked so hard to teach the material, more than a little unsettled.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Neorealismo at the National Gallery of Art - Italy@150

As part of the 150th Anniversary of a United Italy, the National Gallery of Art is showing several films throughout January and February that make up the Neorealist movement in Italian cinema.  The National Gallery describes the movement as follows:

"Born out of turmoil in postwar Italy, Neorealism addressed a moral and aesthetic need in the Italian cinema, in Roberto Rossellini's words, 'to express things as they are.' Forsaking artificial sets and the mannered effects of studio production for natural locations and nonprofessional actors, the Neorealist collaborators shared a conviction that the subject of art must be ordinary life (a perspective that was gaining ground elsewhere as well).  This series spans the decisive decade when the political and social order in Italy was still fermenting; it features a variety of formal approaches by ten acclaimed directors. Presented in association with Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia-Cineteca Nazionale, Cinecittà Luce S.p.A., and the Embassy of Italy, with thanks to the Pacific Film Archive, Susan Oxtoby, Laura Argento and Rosaria Focarelli."

Click on the link to this post for a schedule of film screenings at the National Gallery.  Buon Divertimento!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Just 9 Days Left to Visit the Palladio Exhibit at the National Building Museum

Last month, the U.S. Congress passed a resolution to honor Italian born architect Andrea Palladio. Although the effort was two years in the making, it comes at a fortuitous time; the National Building Museum is hosting a four month exhibit honoring his work entitled, Palladio and His Legacy: A Transatlantic Journey.

It doesn't take an architectural aficionado to recognize that many of the federal buildings in D.C. bare a resemblance to classical Roman structures, though you may have wondered about their authenticity. Luckily, we have Palladio to thank for the influence of the drawings of Roman temples that he reconstructed.

Want to check it out for yourself? The National Building Museum offers free docent-led tours Thursday through Sunday! You better hurry, because the exhibit end on January 30, 2011. If you have already been, let us know what you thought?

For those of you unable to attend the live exhibit, you can still get a taste for the famous architectural genius with these web videos!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cineforum Italiano: Manuale d'amore

The Washington, DC Italian Language Meetup Group will be celebrating Valentine's Day (Giorno di San Valentino) by screening a film called Manuale d'amore (The Manual of Love) on Sunday, February 13th at 4:00pm in the Letelier Theater in Georgetown.

A box office smash in Italy, The Manual of Love is a charming, bittersweet comedy about the mysterious nature of love. The ups and downs of relationships are chronicled through four intertwining episodes, each one played out by a different couple. The innocent, dreamlike stage of falling in love; the heart-wrentching phase of relationship crises; the impulsive and frenetic epiphany of betrayal; and the lonesome, tragic free fall of being abandoned. The stories are both everyday and extraordinary, sweet and moving, romantic and funny.

A refreshingly modern portrayal of love in all its incarnations. Full details and advance tickets are available with an RSVP on the Meetup website: click here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

3 Wise Women -NOIAW's Epiphany Celebration

An intimate group of about 50 gathered Wednesday evening at Carmine’s in Washington, DC to celebrate the Greater Washington, DC region of the National Organization of Italian American Women's second annual Three Wise Women: An Epiphany Celebration Honoring Italian American Women. This year’s honorees are Tina M. Maiolo, Esq, Jennifer M. Palmieri, and Giovanna Tosato, M.D.

Diana Femia, president of the Greater DC Region began the remarks for the night by reflecting back on the founding of the NOIAW, more than 25 years ago in Geraldine Ferraro’s New York kitchen. The organization originated to specifically address the advancement of women of Italian ancestry.

Femia also spoke of the work that NOIAW does with the Italian Embassy, including a yearly student exchange, and plans to coordinate a celebration for 100-year anniversary of the Republic of Italy.

Demonstrating the relationship between the two entities, Cristiano Maggipinto, First Counselor at the Embassy of Italy in Washington D.C., who oversees Consular, Justice and Home Affairs reiterated the Italian embassy’s interest in maintaining ties with Italians and Italian-Americans in the United States. Maggipinto congratulated each of the honorees for their successes in their respective fields. Also, he thanked NOIAW for their role in supporting the reinstatement of the AP Italian exam in the US, which was cancelled by the College Board in 2008.

The Honorable Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro from Connecticut’s 3rd district, a former honoree herself, kindly presented this year's three wise women. While speaking, DeLauro struck the appropriate balance of sincere enthusiasm and comedy, reminding OSIA that there are not just sons, but sons and daughters of Italy. She also commented on how she imagined the story of the three wise men would have been different with three wise women: they would have asked for directions, brought more useful presents, tidied the stable, and cooked some pasta al’olio.

DeLauro pondered how many people believe that it is the time you spent on the hill and in committees that shapes your beliefs, but she clarified that for herself, it is her heritage and upbringing; being Italian is “Who I am, what I am about.” Recalling the days of her childhood, she also spoke of her mother and fathers progressive commitment to educating her, a position that was not in accordance with the attitudes of the time or much of the Italian community.

However, much of that has changed, as demonstrated by the evening’s first honoree Tina Maiolo, Esq, a member of the law firm Carr Maloney PC. There she specializes in areas of unemployment and labor law, immigration law, civil rights law, commercial law, and civil litigation. She began by describing the drastic change in environment that she had experienced when, as a child, her family moved from Bridgeport, Connecticut to Virginia. The move to Virginia came at time when uttering cannoli or sfogliatelle could get someone a smack up side the head, she half-jokingly recalled.

Yet, she thanked her family, especially her father Nicholas Maiolo who always taught Tina and her siblings to keep Italian in their hearts. Now, Maiolo looks back to appreciate the culture and heritage that her father and mother reinforced within the home. Her father’s constant singing of Neapolitan songs and her mother’s Italian cooking helped to keep the spirit of her ancestors alive, one that she is committed to passing along to her two daughters.

Today, Maiolo gets to combine her passion for law and Italian culture. Due to her knowledge and practice of immigration law, she has been appointed by the Italian Embassy in the United States as its official referral counsel.

The second honoree, Jennifer Palmieri, the Senior Vice President for Communications at Center for American Progress Fund has extensive experience in the area of communication. She has formerly served as National Press Secretary for the DNC, and in several capacities for the White House, including the entire duration of the Clinton administration.

Palmieri began her acceptance by thanking DeLauro, and calling her a “total sister,” a compliment she pays to women who guide and nurture other women, she explained. Palmieri went onto speak about the two people in her life that taught her the importance of family: her grandfather Michelangelo Palmieri and Elizabeth Anania Edwards. Palmieri was not originally aware that Elizabeth Edwards, whom she spent a lot of time with while working on John Edwards’ campaign trail, also came from an Italian background. Palmieri dedicated her award to Elizabeth Anania Edwards who taught her that no matter what adversity you face, you have the power to bring joy back into your life.

The evening’s final honoree, Giovanna Tosato, M.D. is the Senior Investigator and Head Molecular and Cell Biology Section at the Laboratory of Cellular Oncology at the Center of Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health. Tosato, a native of a small town near Vicenza, Italy, began by calling attention to the fact that “I am the immigrant.” In that regard, her story differed from the previous two honorees, but like Maiolo and Palmieri, she has worked very hard to get where she is today.

Now an American Citizen, Tosato came to the US in the 1970’s to work as a Clinical Associate in the Pediatric and Medicine Branches of NCI. She reflected admiringly on her time as a medical student at La Sapienza Medical School in Rome, where she earned her M.D. in 1973, and her residency at the Catholic University of Rome. Rome, she said, is not a city that can be appreciated in a week; it has many layers that must be discovered only through time. She eventually came to the U.S. with her education and a dream, searching for further opportunity. Tosato felt that there were further advances to be made in medicine, specifically hematology and oncology, which were not possible at the time in Italy. Time proved Tosato’s dedication and ambition to be valuable, as her lab created the vaccine for HPV, and she has had several patents issued herself.

While this year’s honorees come from diverse fields, the common thread woven through their narratives is the ambition and motivation that has been instilled in them by their culture and the strength and support provided to them by their families. As DeLauro pointed out earlier in the evening, it is clear that the work and support of NOIAW has aided in our shaping the image of Italian American women so that “our common heritage can be boon and not a burden.”

We congratulate 2011’s Three Wise Women recipients and wish them continued success!

Three Wise Women Live at Carmine's!

Carmine's in Penn Quarter was hopping on Wed during The National Organization of Italian American Women's (NOIAW) annual Epiphany Celebration. Wine, food and Three Wise Italian Women, oh my! Check out an excerpt from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro's (D-CT) welcoming remarks. Comments from Ambassador Constance Morella and First Counselor of the Embassy of Italy, Cristiano Maggipinto in a exclusive event footage below. Plus, get a play by play of the event posted by Tara Mancini - click on title of this post for more.

(Pictured left, Jennifer Palmieri, one of the Three Wise Women honored at NOIAW's annual Epiphany Celebration on Wed., January 12 at Carmine's in Penn Quarter, Washington,DC.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

DC Chapter of National Organization of Italian American Women Celebrates Three Wise Women - This Wednesday!

This Wednesday, January 12th, 2011, the DC Chapter of the NOIAW will hold its annual Epiphany Celebration to honor Three Wise Women, Jennifer M. Palmieri, Dr. Giovanna Tosato, and Tina M. Maiolo, Esq.  The celebration will take place at Carmine's Restaurant in Penn Quarter.  Click on the title to this post for more information and to purchase a ticket!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Warm up with and Count down to Carnevale

CiaoDC brings warmth to the season with a special tea recipe from America's Italian sweetheart Chef/Author/TV Host, Lidia Bastianich of PBS' Lidia's Italy from her latest children's book release, Nonna Tell Me A Story. Recipe Here

Countdown to Carnevale with UNICO National's Taste of Italy Carnevale Auction!
Get a head start on Carnevale with UNICO National's Taste of Italy Carnevale Online Auction launching February 4, 2011. Stay tuned for great item auction items, and an exclusive interview on the upcoming Taste of Italy Tradeshow. Plus, fun facts on Italy's mystical Carnevale.

Coming soon to CiaoDC's blog this month!