Keep Italian at Notre Dame High School (West Haven, CT)

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Enza Antenos
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Sign the petition to keep Italian at Notre Dame High School in West Haven, CT.

Connecticut boasts the second highest percentage of residents of Italian heritage (16.6%), narrowly trailing Rhode Island, and also ranks second nationally for Italian spoken at home, after the State of New York.

Notre Dame declares that their Foreign Language Department educates students to become communicatively competent and informed global citizens with proficiency in languages and critical insights into the cultures of our target languages. Cultural diversity and language proficiency are essential parts of educating the minds and hearts of their students to become true global citizens.

Yet they are set to discontinue the Italian program because they believe it is not a language of the future. They are wrong! Italian is relevant and sustainable in education, in society, and in the global economy.

Notre Dame has a robust Italian program, offering both advanced placement and a four-year program with the University of Connecticut (UConn) Early College Experience.  

According to the College Board, AP Italian had the fastest growth rate of any AP World Language course in 2018. According to Modern Language Association data, the number of students studying Italian at UConn has increased by 14.3% since 2013 (when enrollments in language programs all over the nation have declined). Why does Notre Dame not want to continue to offer students the opportunity to earn college credits through language study?

Italy is loved. Italian language and culture are a part of American daily life across the country. So much so, that Italy is the first choice out of non-English speaking countries for American students (Institute of International Education 2018) and ranks 5th as an international travel destination with over 58million visitors (World Tourism Organization 2017). Why does Notre Dame not want to provide students with tools that would give them an advantage when they find themselves abroad?

“Italy is a major global economy and great investment destination...” tweeted Garrett Marquis, the US National Security Council spokesman. Italy is a world economic leader as a G7 country: in the culinary arts, interior design, fashion & jewelry, graphic & furniture design, leisure and cultural tourism, transportation equipment, industrial manufacturing & more. Italian Trade Agency figures indicate that 8.9% of Italy’s export market overseas comes to the United States. The North East is home to the headquarters of 350 Italian companies (representing 37% of all Italian companies in the U.S.). Italy has a strong business presence in the U.S. (and not only: U.S. global companies have headquarters in Italy).

American companies lose an estimated $2 billion a year due to inadequate cross-cultural guidance for their employees in multicultural situations (Committee for Economic Development, 2006). Notre Dame students go on to work in jobs that require interactions with different countries and cultures, and, given the extensive economic relationship of the North East and Italy, Italian is more than pertinent. Why does Notre Dame not want to provide students with Italian language skills that are critical in professional endeavors that contribute to economic growth?

Tell Notre Dame High School that Italian is relevant and must not be cancelled!

Thank you!
Enza Antenos, Advocacy Committee
American Association of Teacher of Italian