This month at the Friendship Centers we are celebrating Friendship Around the World, the theme for our March 10 gala. We’d like to introduce you to people from other countries who come to learn, share their talents, and volunteer at the Centers in Sarasota and Venice.
Friendship Around the World is the sixth annual gala to benefit the Friendship Centers. It will be Tuesday, March 10, beginning a 6 p.m. at the Friendship Center, 1888 Brother Geenen Way, Sarasota. Highlights include: a Culinary Tour of Friendship Around the world by Chef Paul Mattison, featuring foods from seven continents; entertainment by a Scottish Bagpiper, German music by First Brass, and performances by Spotlight Theatre Productions and the Irish Dance Academy of Sarasota. It’s all for a great cause - raising needed funds to help the Friendship Centers fulfill its mission of helping older adults on the journey of aging. The Centers offer medical and dental clinics, senior centers to relieve isolation and loneliness, adult day programs and caregiver support, along with meal programs and other supportive aging services. For more information, visit friendshipcenters.org. Tickets, priced at $150 are available online at friendshipcenters.org or by calling 941.556.3205
‘Benvenuti Amici’ to a World of Friendship
The Italian class at The Friendship Center in Sarasota is like an international family.
Instructor Liliana Truppi is the Italian language coach for singers at the Sarasota Opera, and a former professor of English and Italian in Rome. She now lives in Rome six months of the year, and in the winter, brings Italy to life for the devoted students in her Thursday morning Italian class at The Friendship Center. Her extensive knowledge of Italian culture and history creates a dynamic learning atmosphere. The class is not just a place to practice speaking the language, but also to exchange ideas, and forge new friendships. For more than a decade it’s drawn people of diverse backgrounds together to bond and become a source of support.
Alicia Knust, originally from Lima, Peru, has attended the class for more than 10 years. “I’m always learning something, and it keeps my mind alive,” she says.
Elizabeth Lepore, born in the Czech Republic, spent two years in Italy, but didn’t speak Italian. “There is no pressure, there are no exams. We help each other, and we love to learn,” she says.
Liliane Kaufman is Swiss and a newcomer to the group. She says “I originally came to the Center for fitness classes. Recently a friend from Israel invited me to try Italian. It’s fun!”
Marsha Roth, a Massachusetts native, is also new to the class. “I studied Italian in college, and now I’m getting back into it,” she notes.
Nilda Paganini, was born in Argentina and moved to the U.S. in 1959. “After my husband passed away, I wanted to meet people, and here I’ve found ‘my little Italian family.’ I learned French from my parents, and some Italian, but I’ve taken the class for eight years now and I always learn something new. “
Vern and Noni St. Amand have traveled and lived around the world. The child of French Canadian parents Vern’s first language was French, and he studied Russian, Japanese, Spanish, English and German. “Italian is the most fun,” he says. “You can’t help but smile when you speak it. This is more than a class it’s an international melding. It’s something to look forward to, and to leave feeling very happy and uplifted.”