Il Club Italiano of Westchester Community College hosted its first Masquerade Ball on October 18th, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., at the Student Center Event Room. The Ball, as a traditional Italian celebration, enabled the students to connect, socialize and have fun while reflecting upon the assimilation of the Italian immigrants and culture into the American identity.

Exotic and soft lace masks, alongside with the classic golden and silver hard masks, were displayed on a table at the entrance of the room. The evening started with the attendees choosing  will get this their outfits and eating from a buffet featuring Italian food; all harmonized by Italian music.

William Astudillo, the president of the Club Italiano, highlighted the role of such events to promote Italian culture. “Masquerade balls are traditional Italian events and are celebrated every May. We wanted to bring some historical knowledge to the Westchester Community College campus so students can have a better understanding of the Italian culture.”

Even though the masquerade balls in Italy are usually held in May, here in the U.S., October is a very auspicious month for the event, since it is when America celebrates the Italian Heritage. Besides, October 12 is Columbus day, a holiday that evokes the achievements of Christopher Columbus, mostly envisioned to raise the spirits of the Americans of Italian descent and Italians in general.

When asked about the Italian numbers in our area, Paula Abila, the Vice President of the club, stated that “About 21,845 Westchester residents speak Italian in the home, making Italian the third most spoken language in the county, after English and Spanish. 37 percent of residents in the county are of Italian descent.”

“This was the first of the Il Club Italiano’s annual masquerade balls, and we are expecting that next year, the upcoming executive board will carry on this tradition,” said Abila.

At the end, the music that filled the room was not only Italian, and the masks could also evoke Halloween costumes. Never mind, perhaps that’s the spirit. Even spaghetti with meatballs is not a real Italian plate, not originally Italian anyway. Since it is an American invention, it kind of inverts the wheels, being part of a big picture of reinterpretation.

Alyssa Strickland, one of the attendees and a student of WCC Liberal Arts Math and Science Program said, “I came to the event to support my friends that are hosting it.” She also wanted to bring her younger sister to enjoy the party and “get to know the campus.” Lauren Strickland is finishing high school and is willing to start studying at WCC herself next year.

The importance of these parties, as Strickland’s words imply, go beyond (the noble enough) promoting cultural issues and having fun; in fact they are also a powerful tool to sharpen important social and professional skills. Everybody knows the significance of good interpersonal skills and networking, but there is another interesting concept to this subject. In an article published in Forbes Magazine, Laura Shin says that Burnett and Evans have this idea of a “hidden job market” – a job market “only open to people who are already connected into the web of professional relationships in which that job resides.” It goes back to the common knowledge, many times disregarded, that social network is crucial to find the dream job.

It is never too late to learn the lesson that good people are as important as good grades, if not more, to career success. Maybe the Strickland girls don’t know, but they were doing their homework, or should we say “campus work?”

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