Festa draws from heritage and experience to teach Italian

By on November 10, 2004

Christian Festa, an adjunct professor of Italian at Quinnipiac, came from his home in Naples, Italy, four years ago to attend a wedding in Connecticut. While there, he met and caught the eye of a wedding guest named AnnaMarie.

“I came for six days and met my wife. After four months I was here,” said Festa, wearing a three-piece blue suit and an easy smile.

Since he spoke very little English when he arrived, Festa took English classes at the University of New Haven.

It took “five months at the University of New Haven, five hours a day, to get to level nine, the minimum level of English to attend the university,” Festa said in a thick Italian accent.

With a degree in business economics from the University of Naples, Festa enrolled at the Quinnipiac School of Business.

Festa felt that it was a challenge to attend graduate school with a limited understanding of the English language.

“At the beginning it was hard, but once I started it wasn’t,” said Festa. “The European education is so broad, the way you study a lot of things and materials makes you learn faster.”

After earning his masters in business administration at Quinnipiac, Festa married the woman who had caught his eye on that fateful first night and began working as an e-commerce marketing and information technologies manager at New England Linen in New Haven. The company provides textile rental services to many of the country’s corporations and universities.

His love of the Italian culture and his appreciation for Quinnipiac led him to teach Italian 101 and 102 at the university.

“Professor Festa is very understanding and eager to help students learn Italian,” said Cara Shultz, a junior at Quinnipiac, who is a double major in legal studies and English. “He is an extremely nice teacher and you can tell he cares about teaching students.”

Festa can be seen chatting with students before class. Sometimes, he proudly shows pictures of his son Gabrielle in class.

His students say that he is always willing to help and that he takes a serious interest in them.

“His classroom has such a comfortable feeling to it since he is so dedicated to his students,” said Shultz. “[It] definitely makes the class a much more enjoyable learning environment.”

At the end of each semester, Festa asks students in both his classes to bring dishes of Italian food to class for a closing celebration.

“It’s a nice ending to a long and hard semester,” said Festa.

Last semester he brought two special guests, AnnaMarie and Gabrielle.

Next year a third will join him: Festa said he just found out that his wife is pregnant with the couple’s second child.


About Diedre Noonan