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Sons of Italy® Leaders on Official Visit to Rome to Explore Cultural Initiatives

Press Contacts:

Diane Crespy, 202.547.8115

Philip Piccigallo, 011 44 7736 979 654 (From Oct. 6-13)

For Immediate Release:

WASHINGTON, October 3, 2002 - Leaders of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA) will meet in Rome with Italian government, business and cultural leaders to discuss OSIA's expanding relationship with Italy and particularly the promotion of Italian studies in the United States. The OSIA official visit is Oct. 6-13. OSIA is the oldest and largest national organization for men and women of Italian descent in the United States.

Foremost on the agenda is a meeting with the president of Italy, Carlo Azeglio Ciampi and his diplomatic counselor, Antonio Puri Purini, at the Quirinale Palace. They will discuss OSIA's present and future work with the government of Italy to promote the study of Italian in U.S. schools and universities.

The delegation also is scheduled to meet with Marcello Pera, president of the Italian senate; Mirko Tremaglia, minister for Italians throughout the world; Pier Ferdinando Casini, president of the Italian House of Deputies; U.S. Ambassador to Italy Melvin Sembler; U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican Jim Nicholson; and Pope John Paul II. Meetings with Italian business leaders, academics, and journalists are also on the agenda.

The delegation is led by OSIA National President Robert A. Messa and includes Sons of Italy Foundation® President Paul S. Polo, Sr., OSIA National Executive Director Philip R. Piccigallo, and New York State Supreme Court Justice Dominic R. Massaro.

"This visit is extremely important to the advancement of Italian studies in the United States," says Piccigallo. "We'll discuss ways OSIA can build upon its current efforts and work even more closely with Italy to further the study of Italian language and culture in America, particularly in relation to OSIA's current outreach to young third- and fourth-generation Italian Americans."

Recognizing young Italian Americans' interest in the language and culture of their ancestors, OSIA is developing opportunities for high school and college students to study abroad, intern with Italian firms and participate in student exchange programs.

Founded in 1905, OSIA now has more than 575,000 members and supporters and a network of 700 chapters coast to coast. OSIA works at the community, national and international levels to promote the heritage and culture of an estimated 26 million Italian Americans, the nation's fifth largest ethnic group, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. To learn more, visit OSIA on the Web at