Monday, April 08, 2013

Fairmont State University will host the second annual Order of La Sila scholarship dinner on Sunday, April 28. At this year’s event, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III will be the second person inducted as a “Tall Pine” into the Order of La Sila.

The Order of La Sila is the Calabria-West Virginia Italian Heritage Association’s highest honor at Fairmont State for extraordinary Italian descendants. La Sila is the mountain range stretching through the region of Calabria in Italy. Early immigrants to West Virginia found the rolling Allegheny Mountains reminiscent of their homeland. Inductees, also known as “Tall Pines” to the Order, must be living and should be persons who have provided outstanding or distinguished service to West Virginia, the state’s cultural heritage, their community and FSU.

“The Manchin family is being honored for their support of the Italian community, as well as their support of the Fairmont State University Student Exchange Program with the University of Calabria,” said Michael Belmear, Fairmont State Donor Liaison and past West Virginia Italian Heritage Festival Honorary Italian-American Award.

After leaving San Giovanni in Fiore, Italy, in the region of Calabria in 1904, the Manchin (Mancini) family settled in Farmington, W.Va., to work in the coal mines. From coal mines – to opening a grocery store – to starting a fire department – to serving in the military – to becoming doctors – to serving several government positions – the Manchin family have served their communities and the state of West Virginia.

The event will take place at the Village Square Conference Center Grand Ballroom in Clarksburg. A social hour will begin at 4 p.m., followed by dinner at 5 p.m. Tickets are $50 per person; table sponsorships (eight seats included) can be purchased by individuals or businesses. Red Table Sponsorships can be purchased for $2,500, which includes: a VIP reception with Sen. Manchin; priority seating for eight individuals; served cocktails and meal; and name recognition in the program. Green Table Sponsorships are $1,000, which includes: priority seating for eight individuals and name recognition in the program. For more information or to purchase tickets, call the FSU Office of Institutional Advancement at (304) 367-4009 or visit www.fairmontpierpontfoundation.org

Event proceeds will provide scholarships for FSU students to participate in an exchange program with the University of Calabria in Italy.

“As we go through life, we go through this process of finding out who we are. The only way to really find out who we are is to be around people who are different than we are. Studying abroad not only gives you the chance to be around people and societies that are different, but the experience puts you in the position to grow and mature,” Belmear said. “I have personally observed this growth in the students Fairmont State University has sent to Italy through the exchange program with the University of Calabria.”

Laura Bonasso was the first FSU student to participate in the exchange in 2009. Since then two other students, Jacob Alt and Lindsay Menas, also have attended the University of Calabria.

“It’s a lot to adjust to, but experiences build wisdom and appreciation. Here you have to live spontaneously,” Menas wrote in a blog while studying in Italy. “This takes me out of my comfort zone because I am a planner, but it is teaching me to live each moment in life for what it is rather than being stuck in the past or consumed with what the future may or may not bring. More than anything, I hope that what I have to say might encourage or inspire another fellow Falcon to take this amazing opportunity and embark on their own adventure!"