The sold-out event transported 550 guests to the world’s fashion capital with the theme ALTA MODA: Milan Fashion Week.
President of VITA, Joseph Xuereb, says there was a great deal of pressure on the association to back up last year’s inaugural ball, which featured special guest Franco Cozzo.
“Last year’s event felt a bit like a dream; it was surreal how well it went,” he adds.
“I feel like this year was just as good, if not better.”
Xuereb notes having Peter and Frank from iconic panino bar Saluministi with their spritz bar as the highlight of the evening.
“They put on a great show and they’re very personable,” he says.
Another memorable moment from the night was guest singer Sophia Di Lion’s rendition of the Italian classic Volare, which had all ballgoers dancing and singing along.
Xuereb thanks all members of the VITA committee for their involvement in bringing the ball to life.
“The ball wouldn’t go ahead without the work of the committee, in particular Sabrina Pusello [from the University of Melbourne],” he says.
“She’s been integral to organising the nitty-gritty aspects such as marketing and finances.”
Aside from being a great success, the night was also an important moment in Xuereb’s story as president of VITA, which comprises Italian Social Clubs from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, La Trobe University, RMIT and Swinburne University.
For Xuereb, it was the last VITA Italian Ball he will attend as president of the association, which he also founded in mid-2017.
Xuereb established the association with the aim of providing a united voice for Italo-Australian youth in the local community and offering overarching support and resources to young Italo-Australians at a tertiary level.
With a mother and nonna from the town of Ercolano, near Naples, the ambitious law student says he has been involved with Italian Social Clubs since his first month of university.
“In my first few weeks at the University of Melbourne I asked to be on the committee and I was made a first-year representative almost straight away,” he recalls.
Xuereb transferred to Monash University during his second year, and juggled being president of the University of Melbourne’s club and vice president of Monash University’s club concurrently for a stint.
“Along the way I’ve met so many incredible people from more professional backgrounds, like members of Australian Italian Leaders of Tomorrow (ALTO) and the Italian Chamber of Commerce, and other students with a passion for Italy,” he says.
“It’s also been a great way for me to embrace my heritage and relate to other people from an Italian background.”
With his degree almost completed and myriad commitments on his hands, Xuereb feels it’s time to take a step back from the community he has been at the forefront of for almost six years.
That said, it wasn’t an easy choice for him to make.
“I actually get a bit emotional talking about it,” he says.
“I understand that it’s just a social group, but my parents didn’t get the privilege of finishing high school or going to university.
“For me, it’s always been so important to make the most of my studies and take any opportunities, because not everyone’s as fortunate.”
Xuereb will still be busy running his own tutoring business – which has around 12 employees and 70 students – working as a paralegal in a law firm, and editing Monash University’s student magazine, Lot’s Wife, among other things.
But he’s realised there’s one area of his life which is the most important, and which he’d like to devote more time to: family.
“I preach about the importance of family and identity, but with all of these commitments, some of the things that are very important to me – like my family and my nonna Maria – have fallen a little behind,” he admits.
“I’d like to spend more time with them and re-shift my focus a bit.”
Xuereb, who aspires to one day practise in a commercial law firm, will officially step down as president of VITA in January 2019.
Though it’s almost time for him to move on, he’ll leave behind an incredible legacy and has paved the way for many generations of Italo-Australians to come.