The Passion Of Experiences
A Summer Adult Education Program in Italy may be the superlative way to once again enjoy the magic of travel and the joy of learning.
Personal experiences — we’ve never needed them more.
The last two-plus years have demonstrated how much we have all missed personal experiences. The experience of travel to see new places or visit old favourite ones … the experience of seeing old friends or making new ones. These past turbulent years have deprived us all of the joy and learning that can only come from the simple act of firsthand personal experiences.
An elevated personal learning experience is the idea behind a collaboration this summer between the Sant’Anna Institute in Sorrento, Italy, and the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association of Toronto (CIBPA), which are offering a Summer Adult Education Program to visit Italy, introduce yourself to the language and immerse yourself in the culture, heritage and tradition.
“When you can pick up a language, you can better understand the community and the culture,” says Cristiana Panicco, president and founder of Sant’Anna Institute, formed in 1998 to educate, support and assist international students in becoming active citizens of the world. “When I moved to Sorrento from Torino, Italy, I totally fell in love with the place, for the landscapes, the history, the beauty, the architecture and, of course, for the food and wine, but most of all for the people, because everything is authentic here. Pictures don’t do it justice, and the reason is you’ve got to feel it. You have to spend time here to feel the culture and traditions. There is a difference between being a tourist and living somewhere. Attending a school like ours is a way to belong to the community and become a temporary citizen, then you can really understand everything that is around you.”
The Summer Adult Education Program is offered in both two-week and four-week blocks, with a variety of personal experiences included in both packages, with basic Italian language courses being the core of both programs. Also included is a trip to the Pompeii Ruins and the Amalfi Coast, full-day trips to both Naples and Capri Island, a Mediterranean cooking class, visits to both a coffee factory and mozzarella cheese factory and in-depth lectures on signposts of Italian history, including cinema and the Mafia. The four-week packages also include a walking tour of Sorrento, a full-day trip to Procida Island and a trip to the Herculaneum Ruins. The price for the two-week package is $2,830 per person, and the four-week package is priced at $4,000 per person (accommodation not included).
This innovative partnership with the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association is another way Sant’Anna is spreading its brand internationally in promoting the knowledge of Italian heritage and culture to groups and younger generations who realize where their families are from, but have never had the opportunity to fully experience that. Again, it’s the longing for much overdue personal experiences.
The CIBPA mandate, as a non-profit member organization, founded in 1952, is to promote and cultivate the business, professional, cultural and social interests of its members and to represent the Italian-Canadian community-at-large in creating opportunities to build sustainable professional relationships.
“We were formed so our forefathers collectively had a voice to be able to move forward with their initiatives to integrate into a society, which was new to them, and to be able to contribute to that society by forming networks,” says CIBPA president John Lettieri. “When I first visited Italy when I was eight or nine or 10, and I came back to Canada, it reinforced my understanding and my passion of where my family came from. I find it important for my generation to express what the past has created for us and to pass that onto other generations. From the south of Italy to the north, there is nothing but beauty. And now through our partnership with the Sant’Anna Institute, we have the ability to offer to our community the opportunity to visit Italy and to come home and say, ‘I get it.’”
The institute also offers semesters and summer terms for college students to study abroad, take classes and earn credits. Summer terms are offered for one-month periods in either June or July, or a two-month term for both June and July, and are the ideal opportunity to introduce young adults to the language, traditions and culture of Italy firsthand.
The learning during the Summer Adult Education program will take some concentration, given the Sant’Anna Institute is housed in an impressive historical structure perched on the cliffs of the Amalfi Coast, overlooking the fishing village of Marina Grande, just a short walk from the city centre of Sorrento. But if there is anywhere to immerse yourself into the full Italian experience, this is it. The program’s basic Italian language course is offered in a four-hour time slot, five days per week in both two- and four-week packages, and the institute offers a WiFi connection. There are also welcome and farewell receptions for both packages. It’s entirely possible you may speak English at the first reception and Italian at the last one.
This Summer Adult Education Program is an opportunity we all haven’t had in quite some time — to travel, to experience the heritage, traditions, landscapes, beauty, music, wonder and culture of Italy. To explore the joy of family, to revel in the comfort and warmth of Italian food and wine, to bask in the glow of fading light and good conversations over a large table with friends or to enjoy the awakening of a morning espresso in a piazza.
Perhaps Cristiana Panicco puts it best about personal experiences when she simply says, “It’s one thing to hear about where you came from. It is another thing entirely to live where you come from and continue the feeling of being Italian and have an Italian heritage.”
Interview by Estelle Zentil