The Center for Italian Studies recently hosted a group of students/staff from Pietro Giannone High School in Benevento, Italy, for an opportunity to exchange experiences with Stony Brook University students, staff and community members in a forum on “Today’s Migrations in Europe and the United States.” The event took place on September 18 in the Center for Italian Studies office in the Melville Library.
Stony Brook Interim President Michael Bernstein opened proceedings with a tribute to the late director of the Center, Mario Mignone.
“I feel Mario right here in this room,” began President Bernstein. “This forum is a testimony to his legacy and leadership and he would be thrilled that we’re here today.” He then went on to highlight Stony Brook’s dedication to diversity and the importance of learning about other cultures.
“Diversity is of crucial importance to our university,” said Bernstein. “It’s something we’re very proud of. We drive and embrace it, and we believe that diversity speaks to equity and fairness. It’s an important contributor to excellence in scholarship, research and art.”
The day before the conference, the Italian students spent a day in the Three Village Central School District with superintendent Cheryl Pedisich.
“We are fortunate in Three Village to have a beneficial relationship with Stony Brook,” said Pedisich. “We embrace learning about different cultures and education systems. Even though we live thousands of miles apart we have shared goals regarding education.”
NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was also in attendance and took an opportunity to address the room.
“Migration is a timely topic and hearing a young person’s perspective is key because they are the ones who will inherit the world,” he said. “It’s also an important topic. We’ve seen it in the Presidential debates, it’s a big topic in Italy, and even the Pope has weighed in.”
Pietro Giannone High School principal Luigi Mottola described the conference as “an important opportunity to connect the past and the present through the eyes of the future.”
For the students, the overall goal of the visit was to meet three objectives: strengthening citizenship skills with a view toward social cohesion and cultural diversity explored through the theme of immigration, enhancing communication skills in a foreign language, and enhancing soft skills, including the ability to work in teams and communicate effectively.
“We hope this is the beginning of more dialogue between Italy and Stony Brook,” said Pietro Giannone’s Mottola. “We hope to keep these cultural bridges alive and we look forward to more student exchanges.”