With a family background in Italian, studying the language and culture at university made perfect sense for Carmela Ricci.
The third-year Diploma of Languages student studied Italian at secondary school and was awarded a scholarship to Italy when she graduated.
“I spent six weeks there which was a fantastic experience,’’ she recalls.
Upon return to Australia, however, her career took a different path and over the next decade Carmela worked in travel and recruitment and more recently social media communications.
“As my parents are from Italy, I was looking for a deeper understanding of my heritage, so I decided at the age of 38 to enrol in a Diploma of Languages at Griffith,” she said.
Carmela’s expectations were more than met when she won the Premio Italia 2016 national writing competition for Australian university students in October.
Organised by the Italian Embassy in Canberra and the Italian Institute of Culture in Sydney, students write an essay in Italian on a given topic. The prize is a return trip to Italy.
This year’s theme was ‘Italian and Creativity: Brands and Traditions, Fashion and Design’.
Research focus on creative process
Carmela focussed her 1500-word essay on the new face of ALITALIA airline and in particular the creative process behind their new uniforms.
“I chose this topic as I worked in the travel industry for about seven years and it’s an airline I hold dear,’’ Carmela said.
“I was fascinated by uniform launches and the reasoning behind the designs, accessories and fabrics used.”
Carmela researched ALITALIA’s uniforms designer and how he developed his creations.
“In particular, he used the colour of the Italian landscapes and the hat the stewards wear is a representation of the hills of the Cinque Terre.”
So impressive was her essay that ALITALIA’s head office requested a copy.
“I was elated to win and very excited. It gave me a great sense of satisfaction,’’ Carmela said.
And while she prefers speaking the Italian language, Carmela said the essay competition was a great way to focus her thoughts and develop her writing skills.
“The Italian Embassy has been running the competition for six years and this is the third time that a Griffith student has been awarded this prestigious prize,’’ Italian lecturer Tiziana Miceli said.
Carmela wants to continue to develop her language skills and take her husband and son on her prize trip to Italy in 2017.
“Returning to my roots and visiting family,’’ she said.
Find out more about studying languages at Griffith