ItalyUSA Talks: Carmelo Cutuli, TWS President

The Watson Society, a prominent cultural association based in Rome that has been dedicated to furthering connections between Italy and the United States since 2013. Under President Cutuli's leadership, The Watson Society has become a highly respected voice on transatlantic relations with a special focus on engaging and uplifting the Italian American community through its initiatives.

How would you characterize the current relationship between Italy and the United States?

The relationship between Italy and the US is strong and vital. As NATO allies, we share common values and strategic interests. There is close cooperation economically, diplomatically, militarily, and culturally. The friendship between our nations remains important. Italian Americans have helped build bridges between Italy and America for decades through business, politics, culture and other realms. They have helped shape America while maintaining ties to their Italian heritage. Their contributions continue to foster goodwill and collaboration.

Can you provide an overview of The Watson Society's mission and origins?

The Watson Society is a non-profit cultural association founded in Rome, Italy in 2013 by a group of Italians passionate about furthering connections between Italy and the United States. The organization's core mission is to foster relations between the two countries, with a particular emphasis on collaborating with the Italian American community. The founders shared a belief in the power of cultural exchange to build understanding and strong ties between Italy and America. Since its inception, The Watson Society has worked tirelessly through events, research, advocacy and educational initiatives to nurture this vision of productive transatlantic relations rooted in the vibrant Italian American culture.

What are some of the main programs and activities organized by The Watson Society to engage the Italian American community?

The Watson Society organizes a diverse array of cultural events and research to meaningfully engage the Italian American community. Some highlights include: conferences, seminars and lectures exploring the history and culture of Italian Americans where experts share insights into topics like immigration, achievements, discrimination and traditions; book presentations and discussions between Italian and Italian American authors to facilitate cultural exchange; social events ranging from formal dinners to receptions that convene leading Italian American individuals and groups to network and share ideas; advocacy for Italian American causes and consultation with Italian American civic organizations to align efforts.

How important is the Italian American community in the US today?

The Italian American community, numbering over 17 million, remains an influential and vibrant part of American society. Italian Americans have risen to prominence in business, politics, science, sports and other fields while preserving traditions. They make up an integral part of America's multicultural fabric. There is also a tremendous potential to increase trade and investment between our nations. Our economic ties are already robust at over $60 billion annually. Further cooperation in technology, manufacturing, energy and other sectors can drive growth. Reducing barriers and encouraging business partnerships could unlock new opportunities.

What role can cultural exchanges play in strengthening the Italy-US relationship?

Cultural exchanges are invaluable for deepening ties between Americans and Italians, especially youth. Exposing more people to each other's art, food, history and ideas fosters appreciation and lasting bonds. Maintaining vibrant cultural ties renews the friendship between our nations.

How can we ensure that new generations of Italian Americans maintain a strong connection to their heritage?

We must continue supporting Italian American organizations, events and education on Italian language and culture. Engaging youth in cultural immersion experiences like study abroad in Italy also helps them connect. Strong families and communities that celebrate Italian traditions are key, as are efforts by Italy to reach Italian American youth. A vibrant Italian American identity will endure.

What is your vision for the future of The Watson Society and its role in Italy-US relations?

Looking ahead, The Watson Society remains committed to being a vibrant platform for transatlantic dialogue between Italy and the United States in the 21st century by continuing to engage the Italian American community in innovative ways. We aim to further expand our publishing department developing new media channels to address our cultural diplomacy programs. Our events and network will continue bridging leading voices in the Italian American community with their Italian counterparts to collaboratively uplift Italian culture. Moreover, we envision The Watson Society as an incubator for the next generation of Italian American leaders, artists, academics and innovators across fields - the modern manifestation of that immigrant spirit and gift for reimagining possibilities while preserving heritage. By strengthening these ties, The Watson Society can play its role, in partnership with other leading italian American organizations, ensuring the Italian American identity continues to thrive while benefiting the broader relationship between our nations.

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