Carlos Terrero and Eric Padilla play handball together on a wall painted with an Italian flag on Arthur Avenue. / Image and caption courtesy of Image Courtesy of SABO FOR New York Daily News/ROBERT SABO
Carlos Terrero and Eric Padilla play handball together on a wall painted with an Italian flag on Arthur Avenue. / Image and caption courtesy of Image Courtesy of SABO FOR New York Daily News/ROBERT SABO

For 35 years, Primavera Italian Language and Culture program has been providing free Italian language courses to elementary and middle school students in The Bronx.  Along with the study of the language, the program has also taught and helped preserve the Italian culture — a community which has long and deep roots in our borough and has made great contributions to our communities.

Now several elected officials and Bronxites are trying to save the program.

Growing up in a bilingual household where we spoke both Spanish and English, I can’t personally stress how important it is to be able to communicate in more than one language.  It immediately opens doors and cultures to you.

When I started as a Freshman at Cardinal Spellman High School, I was already advanced enough in Spanish to be able to just take the regents exam that year and by Sophomore year I was able to embark upon learning Italian — a language and culture I continued to study straight through college.

Times have changed and The Bronx now is the most “Latino” borough of New York City but that doesn’t mean that Spanish is the only language spoken here on the mainland.  We are made up of hundreds of different ethnic groups and it’s important for each one to be able to preserve their culture while being part of the beautiful tapestry that is The Bronx and New York City as well.

The Bronx Times writes (although not sure why Liras are accepted since it has long been replaced by the Euro!):

The Primavera Italian Language and Culture Program is pushing forward against the odds, trying to stay in operation for another year – getting help from wherever they can find it. Liras, euros and dollars will all be graciously accepted.

The free, comprehensive Saturday-morning program has served the community for 35 years, teaching both the Italian language and Italian culture to students from public and private schools.

The program coordinator Loretta Zaino said that the program, a community tradition, is currently subsisting on funding secured by local elected officials, most notably Congressman Joseph Crowley, and Senator Jeff Klein, who just obtained a $5,000 grant for the program.

The 12-week learning experience runs from the fall to spring at St. Benedict’s School. The money Klein secured through Project Boost, an enrichment program for elementary and middle school students, will go a long way towards paying the costs of the program, said Zaino.

“Right now, we are working on a shoestring,” she said of the program.

“No one on the staff has gotten paid, and we have been working for six weeks. This $5,000 will help see us through the end of the program.”

via Congressman Joseph Crowley also supports the program; Saturday learning at St. Benedict School in Throggs Neck and east Bronx community tradition • Bronx Times.

 

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