Italy in Seattle with the Dante Alighieri Society – Italian Language Program
By Jeffrey Freiberg
Ciao a tutti, my name is Jeffrey Freiberg and I am thrilled to be heading to Perugia, Umbria next summer to continue my Italian journey. I’ve always been intrigued by Italian culture, due to having a grandmother whose family is from Palermo, Italy, to growing up in a city with a large Italian population – Philadelphia, to falling in love with calcio during the summer World Cup of 2006. It led to me selecting an Italian class with my two free elective classes while studying at Temple University ten years ago, and it culminated in my first trip to Italy last April. My wife and I got married at a villa in the small town of Poppi with our closest friends and family present, and then we spent the next 10 days touring 12 cities/towns mostly in central Italy. We fell in love with the playful spirit of the Italian people, the melodic language, the beautiful scenery and architecture, and of course, the heavenly food and drinks.
We immediately looked for ways to recapture that feeling we had in Italy once we got back to Seattle. Thankfully, we found the Dante Alighieri Society of Washington and the Seattle Perugia Sister Cities Association. Dante Alighieri offered two A1 classes this past year with two wonderful professors. Damiano Pinton and Laura Ciori are extremely skilled in helping all their students find an entry point into the language, no matter what their starting point is. They make class fun and social, and modify the textbook and curriculum to make it relevant to modern day Italy. I recently had the pleasure of meeting students from the advanced classes at an end-of-quarter social gathering in December and now I’m even more eager to continue through the classes at Dante Alighieri! Whether you just want to learn some basic phrases or become conversationally fluent, Dante Alighieri can get you there with their amazing professors.
DAS were quick to react to the COVID situation this winter and spring, leading to classes being held on Zoom. As a teacher myself, I know there’s no substitute to learning in person, but I’m amazed at how seamlessly and effectively our classes transitioned to Zoom. Luckily for me, DAS is offering a special summer session of classes where we will review the skills we’ve learned this year before we advance to the A2 classes starting this fall.
The application process for this scholarship was pretty straightforward. After filling out your scholarship application, Seattle Perugia Sister Cities Association (SPSCA) does a round of interviews before recommending their selections to their board. The interview was very informal and felt more like a fun casual conversation with others who share your passion for everything Italy related. SPSCA is a very welcoming community who shares Dante Alighieri’s mission of bringing people together to celebrate and explore Italian culture. Similar to Dante Alighieri, SPSCA also holds special gatherings and events throughout the year that are a great way to meet new people and enjoy various elements of Italy.
I am currently a classroom teacher at Bailey Gatzert Elementary School in the Central District. While I love my job and cherish every day with my students, it’s hard for me to deny that I’m in full countdown mode for next summer!