RFH Presents “World Language in Our Community”

February 13th, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 19, 2016


RFH Presents “World Language in Our Community”

Panelists for “World Language in Our Community,” presented at RFH on January 12th, were (from left to right) Dekker Buckley, Amy Sestito, Claudia De Bonte, and Gianna Maita.


Rumson – The Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School World Language Department presented “World Language in Our Community” on January 12th.

A “standing-room only” crowd of students who elected to attend during Study Hall Period listened intently as four panelists revealed the many benefits of studying world languages. The panelists were –

  • Dekker Buckley, who serves as Vice President-Director, Latin American Zone, for the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
  • Claudia De Bonte, a New Jersey-based attorney who worked in France for Polo Ralph Lauren/Poloco and – after graduating from University of Pittsburgh School of Law – was hired as an associate for a law firm specializing in commercial matters and worked on a multi-national contract case tried in French at The Hague
  • Gianna Maita, an RFH Class of 2011 graduate with varying levels of proficiency in French,Italian, Spanish, and Afrikaans who recently completed a research fellowship in Nicaragua where she used her knowledge of Spanish to conduct interviews with students and staff at the Universidad Centroamericana in Managua
  • Amy Sestito, co-founder of the groundbreaking and award-winning parenting magazine “The Family Groove” as well as “psa3” – a one-stop shop for public service announcement campaigns that are broadcast throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Each of the panelists told the students about the opportunities for exploration and advancement made possible by their world language skills.

“I encourage you to learn a world language, or several, because it will make you a better communicator and you will be exponentially more successful than those who don’t,” said Sestito.

De Bonte, who spent 18 months at Poloco in Paris – the European Headquarters for the Ralph Lauren brand — agreed.

“Having that language skill was the only reason that opportunities were offered to me,” said De Bonte. “I did not consider myself bi-lingual, just proficient – but my French language skills made the difference when upper management was looking to fill junior management positions.”

“Immerse yourself” was the consensus answer when one of the students asked what panelists considered the key to learning a world language.

“Get out of the ‘uncomfortable’ zone and just start speaking a new language,” advised Buckley, who arrived in Mexico City for Chubb with a limited knowledge of Spanish and now speaks fluent Portuguese as well. “People would rather hear you give it a try and mess up words in their own language than hear you speaking English. “

“You have to be open to a lot of different things – you need to go with the flow.” RFH graduate Maita also spoke about the social aspect of learning a world language.

“People will ‘open up’ to you a lot more when you speak their language, and that was especially helpful when I needed to conduct interviews,” she said. “If you practice speaking a language outside of the classroom, even with your peers, that practice is really valuable and will pay off later on.”

“Speaking their native language really tells a person that you care about their culture, and is important not only professionally but also for promoting world peace and empathy.”

The event was spearheaded by RFH French Teacher Christine Berg and RFH Spanish Teacher Seth Herman, who expressed gratitude to the panelists for sharing their time and expertise with the students.

“The large turnout was a clear demonstration of the students’ realization that language can be a powerful tool for success,” said Herman. “The message from the panelists was loud and clear; speaking a second language, and having cultural knowledge about the native speakers of that language, can open doors of opportunity both professionally and personally.”

Additional “World Language in Our Community” Panel Discussions are planned for the future.Those interested in participating as panelists are asked to contact RFH World Language teachers Christine Berg (cberg@rumsonfairhaven.org) or Seth Herman (sherman@rumsonfairhaven.org) for additional information.



Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Press Release Writer

Mkampfe@rumsonfairhaven.org or 908-347-8885