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The National Italian American Foundation Awards Nineteen Students Travel Grant to Italy


Natalie Wulderk

(Washington, D.C. – June 17, 2018) Nineteen college students from across the nation are participating in the 2019 Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program, an all-expenses-paid educational and cultural initiative sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) that takes Italian American students to Italy each summer. This year’s tour will send students to Rome and then Molise, NIAF’s 2019 Region of Honor, June 13-26.

The program aims to help strengthen the Italian American identity by bonding young Italian Americans to Italy’s culture and heritage through educational tours, museum visits and meetings with local government officials. Students also engage in a community service project further strengthening the ties between the countries.

“The Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program provides a unique and memorable experience for young adults visiting Italy for the first time,” said NIAF Chair Patricia de Stacy Harrison.” During their travels, these young people learn the historical significance of the relationship between Italy and the United States and the many contributions Italy has made to our nation and the world.”

“This NIAF flagship program is an experience of a lifetime. The bond these students forge with each other, with NIAF, and with Italy, will help them gain an understanding of their heritage and a pride in preserving that heritage for the next generation,” said NIAF Chair Gabriel A. Battista.

“For young Italian Americans who have never been to Italy, the Voyage of Discovery is a life-changing experience,” said Gabriella Mileti, NIAF Director of Special Programs, who leads the group’s travel. “Not only do they immerse themselves in the culture of the land of their ancestors, but they do it all alongside other young Italian Americans – and through this, they create bonds and friendships that last a lifetime.”

Now in its 20th year, the 2019 program includes arrival and sightseeing in Rome and Vatican City, visits to the Molise towns of Tivoli, Sepino, Oratino, Agnone, Frosolone, Scapoli, Termoli and Larino, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este. The students will meet with local historians and artisans, as well as participate in a day of service in Fornelli and in a local festival, La Festa dei Misteri (Celebration of the Mysteries). They will also meet in Campobasso with members of the NIAF Board of Directors, who will be in Molise on the Board’s annual Mission to Italy.

While serving as the United States Ambassador to Italy from 1989-1993, Ambassador Peter F. Secchia met many college students who were traveling to Italy for the first time. He was deeply moved by the look that he saw on so many young Italian American students’ faces when they first experienced the wonders that Italy has to offer. Recognizing the lifelong impact that a trip to Italy can have on these students, in 1999, Ambassador Secchia proposed that NIAF create a program, which he has funded, to send young Italian American students on their first trip to Italy so they too could truly explore their heritage and experience the land of their ancestors.

NIAF is proud to administer the Ambassador Peter F. Secchia Voyage of Discovery Program which includes round-trip airfare between the United States and Italy, accommodations, meals, guided tours and a service opportunity.

For more information on the program, please visit

And be sure to follow the students on their travels through Molise, starting June 13, at

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and protecting the Italian American heritage and culture. To learn more about the Foundation and become a member, please visit