Over the holiday break I had an opportunity to visit my extended family in Italy. My travels took me to San Salvatore Telesino, located just a bit northeast of Naples. My grandparents lived there before they immigrated to the United States. It is where my grandmother was born and raised.
Meeting my extended Italian family was quite a thrill. They showed me the local sights, shared delicious food and wine, discussed family members past and present, and shared stories about their daily life in Italy. The importance of family in Italian culture cannot be understated and this trip certainly brought that point to life.
Similarly, the Pacific Dugoni family ties run deep. The anticipation I felt in Italy before meeting my extended relatives was similar to how our new students might feel before they first meet their fellow classmates and faculty members.
Our school family enjoys a special bond built over time. Shared interests and experiences bring us together. Just like in Italy, food and family hospitality are part of our school culture. Our traditions include the Cioppino dinner for first-year students hosted by alumni, new student orientation weekend, the Over the Hump party, our Bridge Builders international culture and food festival, White Coat Ceremony, dinners for student leaders/administrators, and the third-year class trip to Asilomar in Pacific Grove, just to name a few. The school’s family ties are strengthened during the countless hours of classes, clinic sessions, community outreach, lunch and learns, and socializing.
These ties continue after a student graduates from our school. He or she will be an alumnus of Pacific Dugoni for life. We hope our graduates will stay in touch after they have “left the nest” and come home for reunions and other events.
As with any family dynamic, the dental school experience has many aspects. It can be challenging, humorous, joyful and stressful – but ultimately rewarding. We members of the Pacific Dugoni community grow, laugh, challenge ourselves and learn from each other knowing that each of us cares for the success of one another.
My famiglia, indeed!