The students learning Italian at Henry Barnard Early Childhood Center were enchanted this week by The Italian Fairy, who often brings them a touch of Italy, and who this week also brought them a moment of fame.
Seventy Barnard students, decked in red, white and green, danced with Simona Rodano, known internationally as La Fata Italiana, in the Columbus Day Parade in Manhattan on Monday.
“It was very, very fun,” said first grader Benicio Mercado. The students danced on the red carpet, in front of the ABC TV cameras and a live audience. “That made me feel a little bit nervous” Mercado said. “But then I saw that it wasn’t that scary.”
It was a fitting outing for students who learn much more than the language at Barnard. They learn about Italian culture, art, food and inventions. Simona Rodano has visited the Italian classes at Barnard, bringing lessons about her home country. “It kind of feels like we’re there when we’re with her,” said second grader Sarah Godoy.
They have learned enough about Italy, that some of them hope to travel there. That was the case with second grader Aisha Haneeth. The correct last name is Hameeth. She already speaks English and Spanish and is learning Tamil and Arabic from her father. She is adding Italian to her repertoire with Barnard teacher Anna Bruno. “When I go to Italy, I want to know what they’re saying, and I want to speak so that they understand what I say,” she said.
When the Italian Fairy saw the Barnard students practice the Tarantella last May, she knew they had to be in the parade. “The students were so enthusiastic about this dance that she said, “OK, next year I will bring the students onto the red carpet with me,’” Bruno recalled.
The dance lasted about three minutes, with Simona Rodano singing while the students from Barnard and one other school dance.
When it was over, Simona Rodano had a message for the students, too. In a note on the school’s website, she said the students “honored with their talent the beauty of being together on the red carpet cheering for Italy today. There are also 194 other countries in the world full of beauty that can be celebrated with gratefulness and appreciation. That’s how PEACE and BEAUTY can grow, l believe.”
The Italian teacher Anna Bruno says that the opportunity to participate into workshops and programs organized by the Italian Fairy is highly valued by the entire Barnard Community. The authentic Italian experiences have enriched the life of the students and their learning.
Italian Teacher, Mrs. Bruno says that through the Italian Program the students have come to love the Italian culture and the country that they feel they know but they have not yet visited. She believes these experiences at Barnard will stay with them for the rest of their life.