Getting an Education
A big part of knowing who you are is knowing where you came from.
Even though I know a lot about my family history, my understanding of the culture is more than likely the same as every other American that went through the public school system. I grew up in an area predominantly of Americans of Italian descent, however, there was never a focus on our ethnicity in school. We studied “ancient history” that included the Greeks, the Romans, Mesopotamia. I could probably tell you more about general European history than Italian history. In college, when classes were $1,000 for a three-credit course, I took what I needed for my degree and saved my available credits for my major. I took two semesters of Italian for my foreign language requirement and that was it.
So where do you go as an adult to learn about your own heritage? When it comes to Italian culture, your options are somewhat limited. You need to do your research. Here are some great resources to get started.
The Italian American Podcast
I am completely addicted to this podcast. A group of friends that have a passion for all things Italian, each host of The Italian American Podcast brings their own special flair and knowledge to what could easily be a discussion around the Sunday dinner table. Each episode discusses a specific topic that opens into an educational conversation. They’ve discussed everything from how Italian immigrants were treated during WWII to Christmas Eve recipes.
Italian Sons and Daughters of America
A wonderful organization, the Italian Sons and Daughters of America celebrates the Italian American culture and preserves the traditions our ancestors brought with them from Italy. When you become a member, you receive Las Nostra Voce; a monthly newspaper with the latest news and information from the organization as well as information on history and events associated with Italian news and culture.
The American Italian Cultural Center
The American Italian Cultural Center promotes the culture and heritage of the American Italian community by offering Italian language and culture classes, seminars, concerts, and events. Located in New Orleans, The American Italian Cultural Center is focused on celebrating and preserving the heritage of the large Italian American community in the city and its impact on the nation.
Italian American Press
The Italian American Press specializes in offering a selection of books primarily written by authors of Italian heritage who write about Italian and Italian American culture, heritage, and history. Many of these authors are independent publishers and market their own books.
These are just a few of the resources available. You need to put some effort into finding reliable information that is also interesting. As usual, it is much easier to find subject matter related to perpetuating the typical stereotypes, but there are quality resources out there. Get started!