Brooklyn, NY—Amy Iturres-Alomia, a senior majoring in film and French, has won a scholarship from the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program to study Italian at the Scuola Lorenzo de’ Medici in Florence. The Colombia native will head to Italy at the end of January for intensive language classes.
She becomes the fourth Brooklyn College student to win the award, which was founded by Congress in 2000 and encourages low-income students and others who are underrepresented in study-abroad programs to travel overseas.
“Italian is closer to my own culture and it’s easier to speak,” says Alomia, who already spent seven months backpacking through Europe. She visited six countries, including Italy, and was surprised by how quickly she fell in love with it.
“I didn’t know it would be so colorful,” she says. “Italians are very expressive and they talk super loud. I’d be in these little towns and everyone would come out and say hi to each other.”
The Scuola Lorenzo de’ Medici began primarily as an Italian language institute and has been a study-abroad provider to students from all over the world since 1973. Alomia, who minors in Italian but has not been studying the language for long, says she will be submersed in language courses each morning from Monday through Friday, but she also plans to try to get an internship while she is there so she can “get more use of the language” and add some international work experience to her résumé. Additionally, she will be filming a series of video postcards that will give people a taste of the Italian culture “that most tourists don’t see.” She has already spoken with officials in the Brooklyn College Italian-American Studies Center about having a showcase for the film project when she returns. The student club the Film Society of Brooklyn College has also expressed interest in showing her work.
“We live in a worldwide community, that’s why I am studying so many languages,” says Alomia, who currently speaks English, Spanish, and French. “I want to be able to talk to loads of people and not just speak their language but know their culture and respect their history and customs.”
Alomia, who has an associate degree in film from Los Angeles City College, was one of only six hundred students who received a Gilman scholarship for the spring 2009 semester. A Congressionally funded program, the Gilman award is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State and is administered by the Institute of International Education.