Students go to college for the opportunity to learn about the subjects and careers that interest them most. What makes college special is that the education is not just confined to what is inside of textbooks. College also provides the opportunity to learn about people as students who come from all over the country and even the world.
When students come to Truman State University, they bring with them parts of their cultures that serve as trailers for movies about their lifestyles. Short of being able to visit them in their hometowns, groups such as the Club for Italian Appreciation and Outreach, or CIAO, steps in to fill the void for at least one of those far away cultures.
After being dormant for many years, the Italian club was restarted in 2016 by Aria Cabot, a former Italian professor at Truman, with the goal of providing students an opportunity to receive hands-on experience with the culture of Italy.
“The goals we have for CIAO are for Truman students to have the opportunity to know more about the rich Italian culture, language, art, and history through our events and meetings,” says Danni Nahm, president of CIAO. “Some students have no room in their schedules to take Italian so we provide a way for anyone who has an interest to participate.”
Bringing Italy to Campus
As a member of CIAO, I have attended a couple of events, and think the club’s success lies in its ability to not just inform students about what makes Italy special, but also to essentially bring parts of Italy to Kirksville and let students experience it for themselves.
CIAO doesn’t just lecture about the flavorful foods from Italy, the club also provides food workshops that give those in attendance a chance to make and taste everything from cannoli to pasta with handmade noodles.
Josh Fackler, an original member of CIAO, says the food events are one of the things that keep him coming back.
“One of my favorite parts is certainly eating all the Italian food, such as tagliatelle! But also, the people have been one of the biggest reasons I continue to go to CIAO events,” says Fackler.
It’s no surprise that the food events are popular CIAO events. Free food is one of college students’ favorite phrases. To validate that students are interested in the club and not just showing up for food, look no further than the many other events CIAO offers.
Throughout the fall semester, CIAO brought the best of the Italian big screen to campus with their film series, Cineteca Italiana. This series showcased six Italian films with English subtitles on Thursdays in Baldwin Hall. The film selections ranged from comedies such as “Perfect Strangers” (Perfetti Sconosciuti) to horror movies such as the 1970s classic “Suspiria.”
Club president Nahm says CIAO events also received a few visits from special guests this semester. The “Italian Art of the Sword” event featured Truman professor Jacob Lyon who provided participants with a quick history lesson on Italian swordplay and taught the basic techniques of fencing.
“We had a lot of people show up who didn’t take Italian and they were taught the history and basics of fencing and even practiced with a partner,” says Nahm.
Another event featured Francine Fox from Truman’s Art department leading “Shades of Da Vinci,” a workshop on famous Italian drawing styles such as sfumato and chiaroscuro.
To wrap up the fall semester, Nahm says CIAO held an end-of-the-semester celebration on December 7. Students can expect to be entertained by Italian style games and another opportunity to indulge in delicious Italian foods.
The CIAO newsletter shows schedule for the spring semester will be just as loaded. Popular events like food-making and Cineteca will return.
“Some things on our agenda for spring are Bocce on the Quad, pizza making, and more spotlights on cities and on their famous foods,” says Nahm. “We’re hoping to get a couple of our international students from Italy to talk about their hometowns as well.”
Margherita Parlangeli, a Truman student born and raised in Italy, says she believes what CIAO does is effective.
“They project movies that show many different aspects of Italian culture and they offer interesting opportunities, like pasta making, that are very common things in our everyday life,” says Parlangeli. “I believe that by participating in all these event, students will be able to have a good knowledge of Italian culture and traditions,” says Parlangeli.