Bask in “la dolce vita” of Italy at a celebration of the Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center’s first 15 years. Enjoy everything Italian — from gnocchi a la romana at dinner to a Fiat 500 car raffle.
“It’s celebrating that 15 years ago, we began offering language classes to kids,” said Josette Hendrix, founder and director of the academy. And now, the academy offers language immersion classes, brings in groups from other countries and even has rooms for people from out of town to spend the night to attend classes.
“So we’re celebrating the growth and coming of age of the organization and we’re excited about the future and the things we can do for the community and whole Puget Sound area,” Hendrix said.
“Una Sera a Napoli” gala offers everything a fancy evening in Naples would. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 13, guests from around the world will meet at Freeland Hall for a cocktail hour featuring fine wine, an antipasto buffet, a gourmet three-course Italian meal prepared by chef Jacob Wiegner of Seattle’s Blackboard Bistro, and a live performance by renowned tenor Gino Lucchetti and soprano Regina Thomas of Puget Sound Concert Opera, who will sweep guests into the enchanting world of Italian opera and song with pieces by Scarlatti, Tosti, Puccini, Ponchieli and more.
A live auction will offer guests the chance to bid on getaways, local pampering, dinners and art to help raise additional funds to support the academy. The grand prize will be a raffle for a Fiat car.
“This is a very bold and exciting idea that we had, to try and do fundraising in a way that is new — there has never been a raffle of this kind on South Whidbey — and fun and exciting for people. They can help out a great cause and also have a really good chance to win an incredible prize worth over $17,000. We have currently sold about 500 tickets, so the odds are very favorable,” Hendrix said.
The nonprofit was founded in 1996 on the idea that language and culture are fundamental to shaping the world. Along with celebrating and fundraising, the event is meant to raise awareness of the academy’s opportunities for the community. Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center offers language classes for travel, work-related, connecting to the family of origin and more.
“We’re particularly passionate about providing these opportunities to kids,” Hendrix said.
The summer camps are the academy’s signature program, offering various language immersion camps for kids and their families.
“It’s also an exciting way to bring families together around a common learning experience,” Hendrix said, adding that kids usually come with a parent or grandparent.
One of her treasured memories is of a girl from Seattle who came to French camp for years with her aunt. When she was old enough to come on her own, she brought her sister.
“The family had a way to bond together and do something really special and unique. That was gratifying for us,” Hendrix said.
As the academy grew, now it has the ability to host groups and give them the full experience of the “richness of what Whidbey can offer,” Hendrix said. “So that’s exciting for us as well, to be contributing to the vitality of our community.”
Currently, the academy is hosting a group of Indonesian teachers. Last summer, they hosted a group from Japan and took them to a glassblowing studio and a goat farm, where they saw the process of creating cheese.
“So it contributes to a deepening of their understanding of our way of life,” Hendrix said. “For our community, it’s an incredible opportunity to meet other people from across the world.”
As the community gets a taste of Naples during “Una Sera a Napoli,” Hendrix said she hopes more people will become interested in learning about the world through Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center.
“I think it’s going to be more and more needed, this ability to understand each other across the globe,” Hendrix said.
For more information, call 321-2101.
Una Sera a Napoli
Celebrate Northwest Language Academy and Cultural Center from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13.
What: Italian dinner, music and Fiat raffle.
Where: Freeland Hall, 1515 Shoreview Ave. in Freeland.
Cost: $125 per person or $800 for a table of eight.
RSVP: Call 321-2101 or visit nwlanguageacademy.com/press.html#gala.