The Collegian
Tuesday, December 01, 2020

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Eat, Pray, Love Italian

Skin-on-skin writhing and Italian subtitles heated up the projection screen in the International Commons on Feb. 10.

The opening entertainment for the Valentine's Day Social was the film "L'Ultimo Bacio" ("The Last Kiss").

The event, which lasted from 7 to 9 p.m., was sponsored by the resident advisers of Moore Hall in conjunction with the Italian Language and Culture Club, said Lidia Radi, assistant professor of Italian and French at the University of Richmond.

The club, which was formed just last year, is run by presidents Liz Monahan and Hannah Guida, said Radi, the presidential college associate of Moore Hall.

The club intended for this event and others like it to bridge dorm and academic life, she said.

"We chose Valentine's Day [as the event theme] simply because I like to choose some festivities that are very important to students and to look at them from a different perspective," she said.

The holiday is celebrated in Italy as well as in the U.S., Radi said, but Italians limit the celebration to couples.

She said her main focus in the classroom and with the club is "how people from different cultures ... look at the same issues, same questions, same problems that we all have and are dear to our hearts."

The student members of the club decide most of the activities at meetings, Radi said.

The club meets with her at least once per month, she said, but they meet more frequently with each other.

The students present her with their ideas, and she tweaks them so they mesh better with Italian culture and identity, she said.

One such activity this year was a class trip to the D-Hall kitchen, where a group of her Italian students cooked a meal with an Italian chef for three hours, Radi said.

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The dishes included risotto with mushroom and scaloppini with white wine, she said.

Radi said Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, had an accurate view of Italy as a place for pleasure. "Pleasure and aesthetics," she said.

"Italy owns ... 57 percent of the artistic and cultural patrimony of the entire humanity ... so there are very good reasons to learn Italian.

"There is a beauty in it, and that is what I would like my students to see ... so that they build some very high standards in their own lives."

The modest group of partygoers, which consisted of the RAs of Moore Hall, Italian students, club members and professors, snacked on cupcakes, cookies and skewers of fruit dipped in a white and milk chocolate fountain to the rhythm of an American playlist.

Farren Billue, head RA of Moore Hall, said the event "gives freshmen a chance to meet another club if they haven't met them. It's a building-wide connection."

Sophomore Kylie McCreesh, another RA of Moore Hall, said Radi connected her and her fellow RAs to Italian.

Radi said: "The club just started and Italian studies also now are just growing, and I'm extremely happy for that. Before that we had one minor, an Italian studies minor; now we have a major, and students are showing more and more of an interest in pursuing that."

Junior Kate Graham is one student with an interest in Italian. She sat in the Commons amidst friends, bowls of candy hearts and faux rose petals.

An Italian 121 student, Graham said she planned to travel to Italy in May for a five- or six-week program to fulfill her Italian 221 credit.

"I think it's a beautiful language," she said.

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