New program set to repeat next summer

The Lay Centre begins a new Italian language and culture program

The Lay Centre’s first-ever Italian language and culture program drew 12 participants. (Artwork: Hansol Goo)

By Filipe Domingues

The Lay Centre held its first-ever Italian language and culture program this past summer, called Buongiorno Roma!

Last September, 12 guests stayed at The Lay Centre on the Caelian Hill while attending a language school five days a week, for four hours each day.

The classes were provided by the Centro Studi Cassia in partnership with The Lay Centre. Some students at the beginners’ level even had their teacher, Francesca, come to The Lay Centre every day.

Participants also had several opportunities to “learn” Rome, by visiting historic sites, meeting local Italians, eating Italian food, watching Italian cinema and praying in Italian.

The program seemed to offer participants just what they were looking for.

“I really enjoyed the combination between attending a language program and visiting important cultural sites in Rome,” said Jacqueline Wiedemer, a German-Canadian student of music.

Jacqueline came to Italy study at a renowned Roman conservatory. Since all her courses are in Italian, she dedicated the month of September to study the language.

“Taking an intensive language course at an excellent institution and getting to know the Roman culture, together in one month, was exactly what I needed to start my year here in Rome,” she said.

Scott Alexander, professor of Islamic Studies at Catholic Theological Union in the United States, also said he had a good experience. He decided to participate in Buongiorno Roma! during his sabbatical year and ended up spending three months in Rome while writing a book about interreligious dialogue.

“It was a marvelous opportunity to make new friends while exploring this ancient, modern and wonderful city”, said the professor. “I especially appreciated the intergenerational character of our group. Bellissimo!”

The Lay Centre decided to develop Buongiorno Roma! because students enrolled in pontifical universities sometimes come to Italy without knowing Italian. This program was aimed at giving these students a chance to be more prepared to start their academic courses.

That was Elyse Brazel’s case.

“I really loved that there were a variety of people from different age groups and backgrounds who were part of the program,” said Elyse, who is a Russell Berrie Fellow in Interreligious Studies at the Angelicum. “I learned as much from living in community with them as I did in Italian class.”

The Lay Centre intends to offer the program again in September 2016.

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