December 18, 2020
UCF students attend a lecture on comics as part of the the Week of the Italian Language in the World

For students in UCF’s Italian program, every day is a chance to celebrate the language they love. But each year in October, the Week of the Italian Language in the World offers a special opportunity to celebrate Italian and Italian-speaking communities across the globe.

Promoted by the Consulate General of Italy in Miami, the event has a yearly theme that focuses on the link between language and creativity. 2020’s theme was Italian Between Word and Image: Graffiti, Illustrations, Comic Books. Many students from a number of schools and universities participated, including FAU, FIU, USF and UM. Students in UCF’s Italian program took part by attending lectures on street art, graffiti and cartoons.

UCF students attending lectures on cartoons as part of the Week of the Italian Language in the World

“Thanks to the lectures of art historian Clara Iafelice and fashion expert Massimo Casagrande, our students had the opportunity to explore and learn about Italy’s rich tradition of fumetti (comics) and graffiti and their impact on the country’s culture, fashion, and urban space. The virtual format allowed us to celebrate the Week of the Italian Language in a safe and yet fun way,” says Chiara Mazzucchelli, director of the Italian program and Dr. Neil Euliano Chair in Italian Studies at UCF.

This year, the Week of the Italian Language in the World featured an art contest to showcase the creativity of Italian students and their connection to the language. Mariana Ortiz, president of La Società Italiana and a student in UCF’s Italian program, was one of five winners in the competition for her entry, a comic depicting Mickey Mouse as he laments his inability to travel to Italy due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s comforted by Dante Alighieri, famed Italian writer, poet and philosopher, who shows him the wonders of Italian culture and ensures him that the country will be waiting for him to visit someday.

Mariana Ortiz's comic for the Week of the Italian Language in the World, depicting Mickey Mouse and Dante Alighieri touring Italy

In addition to hosting the art contest, the Italian Consulate released a video in which the Consul General, Cristiano Musillo, celebrated the students who participated in the Week of the Italian Language in the World. Betsy Echagarrua, a student in UCF’s Italian program and former president of La Società Italiana, is featured in the video speaking about her plans to continue pursuing her passion for the Italian language.