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LE NOSTRE FAMIGLIE

This page highlights the diverse range of families that together form the Youth language school's passionate and vibrant community.

BILINGUAL/ADVANCED TRACK
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MEET THE TOSI FAMILY

La nostra famiglia e' composta da Enrico, Brooke, Sofia e Karlo. Io sono nato a cresciuto a Milano; durante un semestre presso l'Augustana College di Sioux Falls, South Dakota, ho conosciuto mia moglie Brooke. Abbiamo vissuto due anni a Sioux Falls, uno a New York, ed ora siamo a Roseville da sette anni. Visitiamo la mia famiglia in Italia una volta all'anno per le vacanze estive e trascorriamo sempre qualche giorno al mare. Con mia moglie ho quasi sempre parlato in italiano, per cui la scelta di crescere i nostri figli bilingue e' stata naturale. Sofia ha da poco compiuto tre anni ed ha iniziato i corsi per bambini bilingue lo scorso Settembre.  Karlo ha solo un anno, non parla ancora ma sa dire "mamma, papa' , Heidi e Barbapapa.'" Quando e' nata Sofia abbiamo subito cercato dei centri che offrissero corsi di italiano a Minneapolis ed abbiamo trovato il Centro Culturale Italiano (CCI). Per la nostra famiglia  il CCI e' un punto di riferimento essenziale ed un'opportunità' unica per un'approfondita acquisizione del linguaggio dei nostri figli. Siamo felici di questo valido aiuto e speriamo di partecipare ai numerosi incontri che il CCI organizza per poter trasmettere a Sofia e Karlo, in maniera divertente e spontanea, il senso di una lingua e di una cultura viva.

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MEET THE RAPALLINI FAMILY

La nostra famiglia e' composta da Leonardo e Erin Rapallini e abbiamo tre figlie: Emma (7 anni), Julia (6 anni) e Elena (4 anni). Leonardo e' originario di La Spezia e Erin di Minneapolis. Ci siamo conosciuti e sposati in Italia e, nel 2003 ci siamo trasferiti da Milano a Minneapolis. Sin dall'inizio abbiamo cercato di essere una famiglia bilingue e quando siamo in casa o in famiglia cerchiamo di parlare prevalentemente in Italiano. Come famiglia, volevamo pero' cercare di trasmettere alle nostre figlie non solo la lingua, ma anche, per quanto possibile, la cultura Italiana. Abbiamo avuto l'occasione di conoscere altre famiglie Italiane e abbiamo collaborato con l'ICC sin dall'inizio per creare l'opportunità' di fare delle classi di lingua italiana per bambini bilingue. Ormai nella nostra famiglia le lezioni di italiano del sabato mattina sono diventate un atteso rituale, per grandi e piccini. Le bimbe si divertono e imparano grazie a delle insegnanti dedicate e capaci e hanno fatto diverse amicizie con bambini che parlano italiano. E mentre le bimbe imparano, i genitori spesso si ritrovano a bere un caffè,  parlando del più' e del meno o discutendo di politica o degli eventi recenti o delle nostre famiglie. Insomma, cosa c'e' di più' Italiano di una chiacchierata con gli amici e un buon caffè'?


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MEET THE FRESONKE/OLSEN FAMILY


Luella Fresonke ha partecipato alle classi bilinguali da quando aveva tre anni. Lei adesso ha cinque anni e vive a Stillwater con i genitori John e Melanie ed il fratello Zach. Io sono la nonna Flavia, madre di John, ed essendo in pensione ho avuto l’opportunita' di aver cura di Luella da quando aveva due mesi. Passando parecchio tempo con lei ho deciso di fare il possible perche lei diventi bilingue e parlo con lei quasi esclusivamente in italiano. Io sono arrivata negli Stati Uniti nel 1968 ed ho avuto tre figli, ma lavorando a tempo pieno e non parlando italiano in casa con il mio marito Americano,  non mi e stato possibile insegnare l’italiano ai miei tre figli. Cosi considero, il farlo con Luella, la mia ultima opportunita' di trasmettere la lingua italiana in famiglia ed a far sorgere nella mia nipotina l’interesse per la lingua ed eventualmente per la cultura italiana. Il Centro Culturale Italiano è per noi un ottimo veicolo per ottenere questi obiettivi.
Inoltre, essendo che sono solo io, la nonna, che parla italiano con lei, trovo essenziale che lei sia esposta ad altri bambini che parlano o stanno imparando a parlare italiano. I genitori sono entusiasti che lei possa diventare bilingue ed appoggiano la mia intenzione. A Luella piace partecipare alla scuola e ama la sua insegnante Anna! Speriamo di portare Luella in Italia presto, così da far diventare più relevante il motivo per imparare l’italiano e per aprirle in modo più tangibile uno spiraglio su un mondo diverso. Apprezziamo molto la presenza dell’ ICC e ci consideriamo fortunati di aver trovato quest’ altra via per esporre Luella ad un “ambiente italiano” quì in Minnesota.
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MEET THE MAZANEC/VENTURI FAMILY

Michele Mazanec is originally from Minnesota, but resided in Italy for ten years and her son, Alessandro Venturi, was born in Torino. The two of them obtained dual citizenship while abroad but returned to the United States in 2001 when Alessandro was only two years old. After having been fully immersed in the Italian language and culture during her time in Italy and then experiencing reverse culture shock upon her return to America, Michele craved the company of native Italians and wanted an opportunity to maintain her Italian fluency. Alessandro, on the other hand, has been traveling to Italy to visit his father, Paolo Venturi, for an extended period every summer since he was three years old, but did not have many chances to build upon his Italian language skills here in Minnesota during the school year. Fortunately, Alessandro has a passion for Italian sports cars and his mother discovered the ICC being publicized at a Wheels of Italy show two summers ago. She immediately inquired about the youth language school and discovered it was founded and organized by native Italian speakers and consequently signed Alessandro up for Italian language classes. Alessandro, now twelve years old, currently attends the Bilingual/Advanced Track Italian classes on Saturday mornings. Alessandro is on his second year of lessons and his parents have seen his quick progression from the Beginner/Intermediate track to a more advanced level. They especially appreciate the fact that the teachers are native Italians who truly understand the language and culture of Italy. Alessandro enjoys being around other children who similarly have at least one native Italian parent and his mother likes the opportunity to connect with other Italian speaking parents while he is attending class. When time permits, they also take advantage of the events that are organized by the ICC throughout the year. Michele feels being a member of the ICC is a great way to support Alessandro’s Italian heritage while allowing her to relive the nostalgia of Italy.

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MEET THE BRUSCELLA/DEVINE FAMILY

La nostra esperienza con la scuola d’italiano e’ iniziata circa tre anni fa. La nostra famiglia, composta da Mike, Edi, Johnny (13 anni) e Anna (10 anni) si e’ trasferita da Roma negli Stati Uniti nel 1999. Nel corso degli anni trascorsi in Minnesota abbiamo cercato di mantenere una famiglia bilingue, ma avevamo la sensazione che l’esposizione alla lingua italiana per i nostri figli non fosse sufficiente, essendo limitata principalmente a noi genitori,  alle conversazioni telefoniche con i nonni e alle sporadiche visite in Italia. Cosi’, quando abbiamo sentito parlare dell’ICC, le lezioni d’italiano per bambini ci sono sembrate subito un’ottima idea. La scuola non solo ha fornito ai nostri figli la possibilita’ di esercitarsi settimanalmente, di conversare, leggere e scrivere in italiano, ma ha offerto a noi genitori la possibilita’ di entrare in contatto con altre famiglie simili alla nostra. Nell’ambito dell’ICC abbiamo scoperto una comunita’ italiana numerosa, variegata e dinamica, nella quale ci siamo inseriti con estrema facilita’. Le lezioni di lingua del sabato mattina sono diventate per noi una piacevole consuetudine, oltre a un punto d’incontro e di socializzazione sia per i genitori che per i bambini. Grazie alla scuola, i nostri figli hanno preso contatto con un ambiente linguisticamente e culturalmente vivace e autentico, che li ha aiutati a considerare l’italiano una lingua “viva”, grazie alla quale divertirsi e socializzare. Il loro approccio generale verso la lingua e’ cosi’ migliorato e sono diventati piu’ sicuri e disinvolti sia nella comprensione che nella produzione linguistica. La scuola d’italiano dell’ICC e’ stata, e continuera’ a essere per tutti noi, un’esperienza importante e significativa.

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MEET
THE SCARLATA/GUALA FAMILY

Ci siamo trasferiti a Minneapolis a gennaio (2011), dopo diverse esperienze lavorative sia in Europa che negli Stati Uniti. Per tanti versi, siamo una tipica famiglia italiana, mamma e papa’ che lavorano a tempo pieno all’Universita’, e un bimbo, Francesco, di 4 anni. Nonostante il lavoro ci abbia portati all’estero, l’Italia e’ per noi un punto di riferimento importante, culturalmente e socialmente. Riusciamo a incontrarci con il resto della famiglia circa due volte all’anno e a tenere saldi i rapporti con alcuni e amici e colleghi. Prima ancora di trasferirci, abbiamo scoperto che a Minneapolis esiste una comunita’ italiana che gravita intorno ad un piccolo universo italiano parallelo: l’Italian Cultural Center. Abbiamo immediatamente iscritto Francesco ai corsi di italiano del sabato mattina. Per noi e’ importante che Francesco cresca consapevole delle sue origini, che continui a parlare italiano non solo con noi a casa, ma anche con altri bambini della sua eta’. Per ora il sabato mattina e’ un momento di gioco. Col tempo, al gioco si unira’ lo studio: imparare a leggere e a scrivere in italiano permettera’ a Francesco di essere completemente bilingue, e soprattutto di sentirsi a casa sia in Italia, che negli Stati Uniti. Questa per noi e’ una delle cose piu’ importanti: dare a Francesco tutti gli strumenti perche’ un domani possa scegliere dove studiare e vivere. L’ICC e’ il posto ideale per questo. Rappresenta un punto di incontro per quelle famiglie che, come noi, desiderano coltivare e mantenere viva la cultura italiana.

BEGINNER/INTERMEDIATE TRACK
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MEET THE CRUIT-SALZBERG FAMILY

The Cruit-Salzberg family recently returned to Minnesota from a summer working in Rome. It was an amazing experience. Finn (9), Aine (6) and Maeve (2) got to know the Garbatella neighborhood pretty well, had fun wandering through innumerable historic treasures, and discovered that we need to learn more Italian. Although we have no family connections to Italy, and had never been there before, we were impressed by the family-friendlliness of the Italian people in general, and would like to spend more time there. We may have an opportunity to return to Italy for dad Jeremiah's work in the near future and would like to be better prepared this time around. For this reason, we are grateful for the Italian Cultural Center and its variety of activities and programs. The kids really enjoy the language classes at the ICC - it is a fun and engaging place to learn about Italian language and culture. 

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MEET THE PACITTI FAMILY

The Pacitti family, Adriano, Michelle, Chiara (4), Luisella (2) and Alessia (1month), moved to Minneapolis in April 2011 from Japan where they had lived for the last 6 years. Michelle is originally from England and Adriano is half Scottish, half Italian and grew up in Lombardia in northern Italy. His immediate family still live there and it is generally the destination for visits back to Europe. Adriano and Michelle had always said to each other that they would like their children to be bilingual in Italian and English but although Michelle has studied Italian in the past, not much Italian is spoken at home. However, the family are planning on relocating to Italy in 2013 and primarily due to this, Chiara began attending Italian classes in January 2012, to prepare her as much as possible for the move. The discovery of the Italian Cultural Centre has increased their desire and aided them, to educate their girls in Italian and they attend Chiara’s lesson as a family.

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MEET THE GUSTAFERRO FAMILY

The Gustaferros, who live in Minnetonka, first discovered the Italian Cultural Center several years ago when Joe Gustaferro, then seven years old, firmly expressed to his parents Mark and Barb his wish to learn Italian. That request came as little surprise, as Joe, already a student of French, had a love of languages and, as the great-grandson of Italian immigrants, a curiosity about and interest in all aspects of Italy.  Mark and Barb, Joe’s parents, do not speak Italian, and as transplants from Cleveland, Ohio, had few connections to the Italian community in the Twin Cities. Joe’s paternal grandfather does speak Italian, the language his parents, immigrants from Terzigno, Italy (near Naples, on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius), spoke at home. But Grandpa, who maintains close ties to family in Italy, lives in Cleveland, so Mark and Barb set out to find Joe some Italian instruction in Minneapolis. Fortunately, that search brought them to the Italian Cultural Center, where Anna Jaker first greeted Joe with a warm embrace and started him on his path to learning Italian, which Joe continues to pursue at the ICC and, this past summer, at Lago del Bosco at the Concordia Language Villages. At the ICC Joe has been able not only to acquire Italian as another language, but also to explore the music, cultural traditions, regional cuisine, history and landscape of Italy. The rest of the Gustaferros, including Joe’s big brother Mark (14), are the beneficiaries of Joe’s ICC experiences  – for instance, being able to join Joe in a rousing chorus of “Bella Ciao,” which he learned from Mirella Heimpel at the ICC; preparing Italian dishes from recipes Joe has brought home from Italian class; and enjoying the card game scopa, taught to Joe by Laura (a game which, Joe’s grandpa delightedly informed Joe, Joe’s grandpa had played at home as a young boy!). Joe’s relatives in Italy are thrilled to know of Joe’s interest in Italian, and greatly enjoyed the video Barb emailed to them of Joe’s class’s performance of the children’s carol Tu scendi dalle stelle at the Natale celebration. The Gustaferros have traveled to Italy as a family on two occasions, more recently a hiking vacation in the magnificent Dolomites.  With help from the ICC, the Gustaferro family’s connection to Italy is alive and well, thanks to Joe’s service as the proud torch bearer of their Italian heritage.

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MEET THE HEMPHILL FAMILY

Timo and Karen Hemphill live in Minneapolis, very close to downtown and the ICC. They have both taken Italian lessons at the ICC. Karen has studied Italian for many years: ever since she was a little girl taking Italian lessons with her mom.  Karen’s grandparents were both born in northern Italy in the Val di Non and she still has many cousins who live north of Bolzano in the beautiful Dolomites. Karen is originally from northern Minnesota where many immigrants settled, especially Italian immigrants. These immigrants came to work in the iron ore mines in northern Minnesota as jobs were plentiful and they were able to feed their families. Karen’s grandfather and his brothers came to this country through Ellis Island in 1914. Her grandmother came to marry her grandfather a few years later. Karen’s grandparents spoke Italian at home. Some of Karen’s fondest memories are of listening to her grandma’s stories of Italy and making pasta and ravioli and sauce. Karen has visited Italy many times but brought Timo and his older brother Nick along to see Italy and visit his cousins three years ago. The cousins don’t speak English, so it’s important to be able to converse with them in Italian.  Ever since then, Timo has loved all things Italian and decided that he too wanted to take Italian lessons at the ICC. Timo loves to attend the Italian language lessons on Saturday mornings and finds the class very stimulating and fun. He and Karen plan to study the book and use the CD over the summer so that Timo is well prepared for the fall session. The ICC is such a fabulous resource; we are very lucky here in Minneapolis to have such wonderful and dedicated teachers willing to put in so much time with the children and the adults both. We look forward to taking more classes at the ICC. Karen and Timo and Nick are planning to go back to visit Italy in March 2013 over Spring Break.

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MEET THE OLSEN/MOROSO FAMILY

Fabrizio Moroso, a native of San Daniele del Friuli, Italy emigrated to Montreal, Canada when he was 5 years old. After marrying an American, Fabrizio and his family relocated to Prior Lake. Fabrizio grew up speaking Italian in the home, learning English at school and French on the streets. Fabrizio’s immediate family still lives in Montreal. While his brothers speak English when communicating with us, his Mom relies on Italian and French in her daily life and has limited knowledge of English. Fabrizio’s mom  has made frequent trips to the USA during the past few years. When she visits, the whole family, including Ryan, 6, and Nathan, 3, gets to practice their Italian and have fun with Nonna. The Morosos are also fortunate to have close ties to Fabrizio’s extended family in Friuli and want to maintain that connection. They would like their kids to speak Italian to connect with their grandmother, their relatives in Italy, and their heritage and maybe someday do a summertime “kid exchange” with cousins in Friuli. After moving to Prior Lake, the Morosos wanted to increase Ryan’s exposure to the Italian language and culture and were pleased to find out about the ICC.  Ryan started classes in 2010 when he was just four. Ryan has had lots of fun with Mrs. Anna Jaker in her early childhood Italian class. The family has enjoyed exposure to parties celebrating La Befana, Carnevale, and Natale and learning the Italian Christmas Carol, “Stella di Natale.” Nonna likes to come to class when she is visiting from Montreal and she usually finds something new to read in the ICC’s library. The Moroso family is grateful that the Italian Cultural Center is here in Minneapolis and thank all the employees and volunteers who make the program possible. They look forward to continuing Ryan’s Italian education in the years to come and for Nathan to start next year. 



MEET THE ERICKSEN/COLACCI FAMILY

The Colacci family has recently returned to live in Minneapolis from New York City. The discovery of the Italian Cultural Center was a happy surprise as it meant they could continue their interest in learning Italian as a family. David's parents immigrated to the States in 1950, and in their desire to be American citizens they made English the language spoken in the home. David's been trying to play catch-up ever since. His wife, Susan Ericksen, although genetically Norwegian, has a little Italian in her soul, and is keen to be able to speak fluently with all the relatives back in Molise and Roma. Their children, Mario (13), and Elena (6) have been taking classes for over a year at the children's language school at ICC, and have had a very enjoyable time learning as much about the culture of Italy as well as her language. They all feel very fortunate to have discovered such a rich community of people and education.

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MEET THE THE YEZZI/WOODLEY FAMILY

Gabriella Brisa, age 7, and Victoria Eden, age 13, participate in the beginner-intermediate classes offered by the Italian Cultural Center.  Our family has been involved in the children’s program for several years now.  As is the case for many typical Italian-American families, my grandfather immigrated here as a young man.  Brilliant storytelling of life growing up in Italy, whistling of traditional songs, conversations speckled with dialect and a house filled with Italian treasures inspired interest and pride in my Italian heritage such that as a little girl I was a little disappointed at the fact that I hadn’t been born in Italy.  Geographical distance from relatives, the death of my grandfather, and then that of my father left me feeling out-of-touch with my heritage and concerned for my daughters.  It was such a rich experience for me growing up and I wanted my children to experience it too.  I wanted the girls to feel connected to that piece of their identity, but I wasn’t certain how to make that happen.  The Italian Cultural Center, specifically the children’s program, answered that concern beautifully.  The girls and I have met many wonderful families and teachers, learned a tremendous amount and shared memorable experiences.  In fact, the language skills and cultural introductions acquired through the Italian Cultural Center prepared the girls for an exciting summer this year in which we visited the town where my grandfather was raised, met relatives we hadn’t met before and were able to interact with them as they do not speak English.  We have much to be thankful for in regards to the children’s program and look forward to building more memories through the Italian Cultural Center".

Katrina

The Italian Cultural Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization
 528 Hennepin Ave | Minneapolis, MN 55403 | (612) 298-2223 

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