Written by Diva Zeckua, exclusively for Italian Language Foundation
Growing up bilingual, speaking Spanish and English, I was curious about discovering new foreign languages. Italian, however, felt special to me. Although I did not study it until I started my undergraduate career, my passion for the language began when I was around ten years old. My most prized possession during this time was an iPod touch which held my favorite app – an Italian language learning app. One of my favorite songs growing up was “Con Te Partirò” by Andrea Bocelli. I recall spending hours reading the lyrics and singing them along, being careful to pronounce each word to the best of my ability. This, among other reasons, is what fueled my interest in Italian.
For the years to come, I only understood some Italian phrases and would often ask friends who completed Italian courses in high school if I could read over their homework to see how the language looked like.
During the first week of college, I met with chair of the Department of European Studies, and director of the Italian Department at San Diego State University (SDSU), Dr. Clarissa Clò. I recall vividly the moment she enthusiastically greeted me with a “Ciao!” Just hearing one word spoken to me in Italian sparked excitement and motivated me to partake in the most beautiful language learning journey I could have ever imagined.
Aside from completing a minor in Italian at SDSU, I majored in biology and completed a second minor in leadership. I was offered the opportunity to work as an instructional student assistant in lower-division Italian courses where I worked closely with professors to enhance the students’ Italian-learning experience. I also had the privilege to serve as President of the Italian club for a couple of years.
Currently, I am a student doctor at Western University of Health Sciences, College of Optometry. I stand by the idea that learning a language, such as Italian, can complement your studies in ways you do not imagine, regardless of one’s main field of study. As a future optometrist, I wish to one day provide care to Italian-speakers in their native language.
Italian has not only allowed me to develop skills in foreign languages, but it has opened me the doors to Italian culture. It is thanks to the Italian language that I have met mentors, long-life friends, and lived some of the most wonderful experiences.