In March, Montclair State University hosted Italian business leaders to facilitate a discussion on the relationship between their businesses and Italian Studies. Among those in attendance were scholar-journalist Daniele Balicco, Andrea Illy of Illycaffe S.p.A. and Altagamma, and Giovanni Colavita, CEO of Colavita USA. Terese Fiore, the Inserra Chair of Italian and American Studies at MSU, began the discussion by expressing her belief that the bridge between Italy and the United States could be improved and expanded.
She went on to introduce other leaders who share the goal of synergizing the two cultures. Margie Piliere from the Chief Economic Development Office at Choose New Jersey, stated that this progress begins locally, saying, “Choose NJ is a privately funded non-profit and we are focused very much on attracting new business to the state of NJ and we do this both domestically and internationally. We have been spending quite a bit of time on encouraging businesses from Italy to move here to NJ.”
The conversation eventually moved on to a core topic- that the Italian language is more than just “la bella lingua” (beautiful), but useful in a business context. MSU faculty member Enza Antenos teaches a course on the Italian market, stating “[it] allows students to see what they can do with the language…“[and] gives immediacy of delivery mode and wide online dissemination. Students publish articles through publishers in New York and within a month the articles had over 40,000 views. The business course has an impact beyond the university.”
Another engaging topic was that of internship programs offered by Italian companies to students who demonstrate competency and willingness to learn, regardless of their area of focus. On his program, Colavita asserted, “I don’t care that much what you teach them in terms of business. I care more about the culture, the language, because if they are smart people I will find them or create a job” and concluded by saying,
“Internships have been a huge opportunity for the students and the company. We have an Italian company and American company, and we need the two to talk and to be closer. So we send Americans to Italy and Italians to America.”
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