Webutuck hopes to say ‘Buongiorno’ to returning students taking Italian Culture elective
Webutuck High School teacher Christina Nuzzo visited Italy during healthier times; she spent a two-year sabbatical in Italy, well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck the nation. Nuzzo looks forward to restarting her new Italian Culture elective course after the district reopens.

Webutuck hopes to say ‘Buongiorno’ to returning students taking Italian Culture elective

WEBUTUCK — Currently not able to travel to Europe because of the coronavirus, when they return to school after the state-mandated closure of all New York schools ends, Webutuck students will have the chance to learn all about Italy. The district began offering the brand new language class at the end of January, encouraging students to embrace other cultures and their traditions with the new Italian Culture elective. Not only will students be able to broaden their horizons within the comfort of the classroom, but they’ll also be able to do so with guidance from a fluent instructor.

From her family’s Italian roots to her study of the Italian language and traditions, it goes without saying Christina Nuzzo’s ardor for the Italian culture encouraged the district to offer the new elective. As part of her exploration of her paternal family’s southern Italian background, Nuzzo journeyed to Italy after finishing her Master’s degree to delve into the Italian language and culture. What began as a three-month visa eventually turned into a two-year sabbatical.

“They said Italian is the most beautiful language in the world, and I wanted to speak the language myself,” Nuzzo said. “We Italian Americans do have a lot of traditions, and going over there, I saw which ones we were able to keep and which ones we had to alter to fit the American style.”

Not only did she improve her Italian fluency, but Nuzzo also acquired the ability to read and write in the Italian language. Following her return to New York state last year, she was hired as a teacher at Webutuck High School (WHS). It was just last September that Nuzzo began talking with the administration about formulating an Italian Culture elective. Working together with Webutuck Superintendent of Schools Raymond Castellani to develop the elective, Nuzzo said she considers the pilot course to have endless potential.

Wanting to offer a well-rounded course, Nuzzo said the elective encompasses a broad range of topics, from history and geography to art, music and cuisine. She teaches students about how Italy is a country that has more than 30 different dialects and many different cuisines that are specific to the country’s different regions.

Open to WHS students, the elective began as a half-year course that could evolve into a full-year course. Students have the chance to cook in the classroom, starting with tiramisu and hopefully moving on to some pasta dishes. Using the school district’s virtual reality equipment, they’ll be able to travel abroad while their feet remain in Amenia. Reading from a textbook, Nuzzo said students will learn the Italian alphabet and, with time, gain the ability to speak and read the language.  Looking ahead, Nuzzo added that she’d love to organize a few field trips in the future — once the COVID-19 pandemic passes.

Eager to watch her students get better acquainted with “the most beautiful language in the world” (or “la lingua più bella del mondo”), Nuzzo said, “One of the things Mr. Castellani said to me is that he really wanted to introduce the students to new and diverse cultures. We now offer Spanish and French, but to offer yet another culture and a new language is the main goal here.”

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