And the Children Shall Lead Us
When did you learn to be a Catholic or a Jew, a Muslim or a Protestant?
Was it when you were 18 and went off to work or college?
Was it by living with observant parents?
Or, was it by attending religious instruction from 7 years old to adolescence?
Learning Catholicism is different than observing Catholicism.
Merely aping traditions is not the correct way to pass on a system of beliefs.
Very few established religions entrust the intellectual transfer of beliefs solely to the home or to maturity.
Likewise, well-rooted ethnic groups do not wait until their kids are 18 years old
to finally recognize them with a scholarship.
The fact is,
well-rooted ethnic groups give the gift of heritage, not cash.
They deem it more appropriate to directly impart the details of their heritage rather than to leave it to parents, public schools, or the media.
Yet, this is precisely what Italian Americans have not done for generations.
We entrust our heritage to the family dinner table or to a student going off to study Accounting.
For the past 17 years,
the Italic Institute has acculturated thousands of pre-teen children through its Aurora Education Program,
a standardized after-school system held on Saturday mornings.
Aurora works because it begins the process of developing our group identity at an early age.
It gives us–our children–self esteem commensurate with our ethnic identity.
Aurora creates demand for Italian language in public schools and for Italian teachers.
For all the raves it gets from students, teachers and parents,
Aurora has yet to capture the imagination of the Italian American organizations.
With the proper funding,
be an Italian American version of Hebrew or Greek school.
It can be the answer to many of our problems: a well-acculturated Italian American.