An interview with Monia Camuglia, president of the Prague’s committee of the prestigious institution whose aim is to promote the Italian language and its culture around the world.
Today, five years after the association was founded, the Dante Association, Prague is providing regular courses of the Italian language, organizing various initiatives to promote Italian culture, and collaborating with diplomatic, cultural and economically influential institutions within the Czech Republic.
Voluntary work and the support by members have given us the opportunity to take significant steps forward, without practically any public financial backing.
Doctor Camuglia, we are entering the fifth year of Dante in Prague. It is time to assess your achievement.
I would say that the assessment is positive for sure. We believed in this project and looking back it´s apparent that we have taken many steps forward and this is a reason to feel proud and motivated. We know that we have created the right base to look at future new goals with faith.
What is special about a Dante committee in a city like Prague?
It is not a just municipal committee, but a national one. It is the only one in the Czech Republic. We are the only connection between Dante´s headquarters in Rome (a recognized historical, cultural and traditional symbol) and the whole of the Czech Republic.
What does the Committee actually do?
The first aim of our Statute is the will to spread Italian language and culture around the world. For this reason, we started organizing Italian classes for groups, individuals, and companies, and, in addition, Italian cooking classes, Italian theatre classes…Analyzing the local needs of our patronage, we thought that it would have been useful having Czech classes for our Italian students, classes that could take into account their specific needs, so we set upon a new adventure that is actually proving to be very successful. In addition, there is our “Tandem Czech-Italian” course, which focuses centrally on active communicative participation between Italian and Czech students.
What do you think might be the future of the Italian language within the Czech speaking environment?
Italian will never be like English, that is to say a global language of communication, known and spoken at all levels and essential in many sectors. On the other hand, Italian has a wide group of “aficionados” who study for the love of the language, or because they may want to visit our country, or they might have other business interests. For this reason, people will be interested in our language, finding in our country that which they love the most: art, beautiful countryside, cordiality, and good opportunities for business.
Which languages compete with Italian for the affection of Czech students?
Definitely Spanish and French.
Do you think it is problem that the Italian teaching system does not have a centrally coordinated body within the Czech republic? What is the best way to solve this problem?
I think that the resolution should come from the Italian Institution in charge of it, but they often forget the potential of our language and the connection between it and its culture. The Dante Alighieri is perfectly placed to collaborate in this way. In fact, we have been working with the Foreign Ministry on new accords, with the publisher, Alma Edizioni, and with international conferences, such as the one last year in Bratislava attended by directors from the Institutes of Italian Culture (IIC).
What are some of the events that you organized?
Renaissance Days. We also collaborated with the radio station, Cesky Rozhlas during the year dedicated to Italy. Then there is the training course for Italian teachers, organized with the aid of IIC, Prague.
Are the students interested in just the language, or are they interested in other events, as well?
In both. We have distinguished ourselves due to our wide offers of specialised courses, and we hope we are going to hold many other important cultural events in the future.
Is there a slogan that our journal could launch to promote the Dante association?
I will answer with a catchphrase thought up by our headquarters, which summarises what we are: The Dante Alighieri Association – the world in Italian!
By Giovanni Usai