Wisconsin Launches New Italian Language Initiative


Contact:   Elissa Ruffino (NIAF) 202/939-310202/939-3106 or elissa@niaf.org

(WASHINGTON, DC – September 21, 2001) Former U.S. Congressman Peter Barca and a group of local Italian American organizations in Wisconsin have joined forces with the University of Wisconsin, the Italian Consulate in Chicago and the National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) to promote the study of Italian in schools throughout the state. Wisitalia Inc., a non-profit organization with Congressman Barca as its president, was formed to encourage the teaching of Italian language and culture in Wisconsin elementary and secondary schools.

This fall, Italian was introduced at Rufus King International Baccalaureate High School in Milwaukee, which Newsweek last year named the leading international baccalaureate high school in the state.

King is the first high school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s largest city, to offer Italian language instruction in nearly 50 years, according to King’s principal, Tom Balistreri. About 54 students in two classes are now studying the language.

“Learning Italian makes sense in today’s global economy,” said NIAF Chairman Frank J. Guarini. “Italy is the fifth largest industrialized nation in the world and Italian is useful for students of business, engineering, and medicine as well as those studying industrial design, art, music and fashion.”

WisItalia includes representatives from the Italian Community Center of Milwaukee; the Italian Workmen’s Club of Madison; the Roma Lodge of Racine; the Italian American Club of Kenosha; The Order Sons Of Italy Fillipo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge #2763; the University of Wisconsin at Madison and Milwaukee as well as private individuals from around the state.

To make a tax-deductible contribution to the WisItalia language initiative, contact Al Rolandi, Wisconsin business executive, who is WisItalia’s executive administrator and NIAF area coordinator in Wisconsin. Rolandi can be reached at: 888/297-0607888/297-0607, e-mail: alan_rolandi@excessinc.com or write to: WisItalia,Inc. POB 31, Elm Grove, WI 53122.