After studying abroad in Macao, China last spring, I came back to the United States with a completely different perspective regarding who I was and where my family was from. Through drilled into my mind at a young age that I was an Italian American, my peers insisted that I was just simply, "white". Although I have white skin, I am far beyond "white" at all. I am truly an Italian American, and there is plenty that comes with that identity.
I grew up in a hald-Calabrese, half-Napolitano house-hold, going to my Nonno and Nonna's every Sunday for my entire life. And when I cam back to the United States from my trip abroad, it was extremely hard for me to have to go to a hospital to see my Nonna instead of going to hr house for a bowl of pasta and meatballs as I normally would.
Each time I visited my Nonna this past summer, my brothers and I would practice speaking Italian with her and listen to all of the different Italian songs she loved most. She would smile like never before, and her smile sparked in me a deeper interest in my heritage and what it means for me to be an Italian American.
When I returned to Susquehanna University for the fall semester, I thought more and more about my heritage and previous conversation o'd had with my father out it. I remembered the time that he sent me the speech of Order Sons of Italy (OSIA), and after doing so, I began talking to several friends who were of Italian descent. And with no surprise, each of them was passionate about my plans.
I was put into contact with OSIA National Membership Chairman Dr. Mark DeNunzio and President of the State Lodge of Pennsylvania John oliano, who aided me in the process of forming what is now OSIA's first university chapter. After holding several organizational meetings, our membership began to grow. More and more students on campus gravitated toward our passion, and we now operate as a chapter of forty students.
For me, starting the first university chapter of OSIA is a way of giving back to my Nonno-Giosue-the great man I named after, the man who was the first in his family to start a life in
the United States. If it wasn't for him, I would not have the privileges that I am fortunate to have today. With that in mind, I pledge to do my best to lead the first university chapter of OSIA at Susquehanna University (Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania) so that it may serve as a model for Italian Americans for generations to come.