A virtual visit to Italy


Learn how to make Italian pizza dough, crafts, dance and more on this virtual Italian day.

When organizations come together to share international experiences with young people and families, educational programs are successful. Youth and families from the state of Michigan signed up for a Virtual Italian Day in Spring 2021. Over 100 registered participants had the opportunity to actively learn how to bring Italian pizza dough to life, to learn a little of Italian history, to create a craft, to learn the Italian language. throughout the session and switch to popular Italian music. If you were unable to attend this cultural event, please view the recording on Michigan State University’s 4-H Extension Global and Cultural Education Resources website.

The program began with two truths and an icebreaker lying activity. (A) The colors of the Italian flag are green (verde), white (bianca) and red (rosso); (B) the name Italy (Italia) means “calf land”; and (C) the national dish of Italy is pizza. The correct answer was (C) is wrong and the real Italian dish is Ragu.

Map of Italy

Carmen De Lorenzo, MSU Italian Program Coordinator, presented some basics to the participants, including:

  • Hello = Ciao
  • Goodbye = Ciao
  • Hello = Buon giorno
  • Good afternoon = Buon pomeriggio
  • Good evening = Buona serums
  • How are you? = Come on stai?
    • Good = bene
    • Bad = male
    • So therefore = cosi cosi
  • What is your name? = Come ti chiami?

De Lorenzo then shared the story of pizza, which may be the most popular food in the world. The pizza was originally made La Pizza Napoletana, without tomatoes. Tomatoes came from the Americas and were introduced to Italy in the 15th or 16th century. A story was shared about how Queen Margherita chose pizza with tomato, mozzarella and basil, as these are the three colors of the Italian flag. This is how the Margherita pizza was named.

The participants started making pizza dough with De Lorenzo as the virtual chef. The ingredients for the dough shared before the event were:

  • 1 cup of flour (¾ cup of flour for kneading)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon dry brewer’s yeast
  • 3 teaspoons of olive oil
  • 2/3 cup water at room temperature

One youth said, “It’s fun making pizza dough. De Lorenzo encouraged participants to be calm and relaxed when kneading the pizza dough. Young participant Omar said: “Yes it was so much fun, I was able to make pizza dough that we will make pizzas with later. “

Participant knead pizza dough.
Participant knead pizza dough. Photo by George Berghorn.

“My difficult stage has just ended,” shared young participant Han Jiang. After the dough was finished, participants were encouraged to keep the dough at room temperature for 2 hours, or for a lighter pizza to keep for 6 hours. De Lorenzo shared, “You can refrigerate the dough for up to three days. Could freeze it for a month.

“It’s a really fun class! Another participant said. Chef De Lorenzo said: “Everyone has to wash their hands so that we can move on to the next section. “

Pizza completed Margherita. Photo by George Berghorn.

Participants learned that Italians use gestures to communicate. The segment of the movement led by De Lorenzo and his students is culturally very important. Watch the recording to see the movements, which coincide with these phrases which were all used in the dance of an Italian song, Claudio Cecchetto – Gioca Play:

  • Bono! (good)
  • Mangiare (to eat)
  • To sleep (to sleep)
  • Perfect ! (perfect)

Next comes the Italian story, “II Palazzo di gelato”, di Gianni Rodari (The Ice Cream Palace, by Gianni Rodari). This story was first read to participants in Italian and then again in English. The final segment was the vessel led by Paula Qefaliaj, La Corona di Alloro (Italian Laurel Wreath). Italian poet Dante Alighieri great accomplishment to receive the crown. The materials used were a cardboard plate (Piatto di carta), scissors (Forbici), glue (Colla o graffette), two-leaf sheets (Due fogli di carta), markers, pencils, stickers for the decoration (Pennarelli, matite, adesivi) and a red ribbon (Fiocco Rosso). Participants cut out the center of the cardboard plate and then colored leaves, cut them out and glued them to the cardboard plate. The last part was to finish the crown with a red ribbon.

Girl wearing a hat she made.
Participant showing the Italian laurel wreath. Photo by George Berghorn.

This program was made possible through the collaborative efforts of Michigan State University Community Language School, Michigan State University Extension, Dante Alighieri Company, Consulate of Italy – Detroit, IL Circolo Italiano – Wayne State University and Michigan State University Italian Club.

4-H grows successful youth through positive developmental relationships. If you want to learn more, visit the Michigan 4-H website. To learn more about youth development programs, contact D’Ann Rohrer at [email protected] or 231-845-3361, or our Civic Engagement leadership team at [email protected] edu.

To learn more about the positive impact of Michigan’s 4-H youth leadership, citizenship, and global and cultural education and service programs, read our impact report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders”. Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways in which MSU Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

Find other global educational opportunities on the MSU Extension Global and Cultural Education website. For more information on 4-H learning opportunities and other 4-H programs, contact your local MSU Extension county office.

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