Italian American identity means different things to different people, and the “Italian American Experience” is oftentimes a very personal definition for each individual. At one point or another, it's safe to say most of us have felt a certain “otherness” setting us apart from the mainstream. If you have felt this more frequently than others, we’ve got the Paesana for you!
On this week’s episode, we’ll chat with Victoria Passarella, the founder of Metropolitan Island, Brooklyn Ivy League, and the Italian American Leadership Network.
After graduate school at Columbia University, and working for the university in career education, Victoria noticed that her Italian American upbringing led to some major cultural differences from the institutions around her. She was almost always the only Italian American in these settings, and as the daughter of an Italian immigrant father and an Italian American mother from Brooklyn, Victoria's Southern Italian culture influenced how she viewed her work and society at large.
Inspired to take what she learned as a career education professional and offer it in a relatable way to empower her community, Victoria founded the Italian American Leadership Network as a community for people to support one another as they navigate their professional lives while incorporating how being Italian American impacts their values and challenges they experience, sharing resources and knowledge to help each other achieve goals that our ancestors could only dream of!
Victoria will share the surprising events that made her realize Italian Americans might need a different type of professional network… from a dressing down about dressing up, to the grad school professor whose meatball dinner helped reveal troubling stereotypes. This episode is filled with important questions about Italian American self-identification, how we define our community, what makes us distinct, and when its okay to embrace and defend those distinctions that make us who we are!