My name is Kaya Zabriskie. I am a 20-year-old Italian-American from Santa Monica, California. My mom is originally from Rome, where she studied at the Accademia di Belle Arti, and I have always wanted to follow her footsteps in the Eternal City. She moved to California after she graduated from the academy, but she never forgot her Italian roots.
In the States, my mom is a member of the Italian Cultural Institute of West Los Angeles, which does a great job in organizing language classes and events that help Italian-Americans connect with their incredible double heritage. I think that their work, together with my mom’s eagerness to keep the Italian culture alive in our family has made me who I am today. As I was growing up in the States, she always talked in Italian to me, encouraging me to learn the language like a native speaker. Today, living and studying in Italy, I can perfectly understand all that is going on around me, fluently chatting with locals and translating for my non-Italian friends.
I am grateful for my Italian-American upbringing, because, other than making me bilingual, it also gave me a greater opportunity to grow up aware and respectful of other cultures. I have found my experience as an Italian-American invaluable both in the multicultural American society and here in Italy, where I enjoy the international interaction with people from all over the world as I pursue my undergraduate degree at John Cabot University.
Although I had visited Italy with my family before on vacation, living here for a longer period is a completely different experience. I find myself discovering new things about the Italian culture more often than I would have imagined, and I love Italy’s warm and inviting atmosphere. My experience has thus far been an incredible opportunity to truly experience my roots while pursuing my degree.
Kaya Francesca Zabriskie
Class of 2017
Santa Monica, CA