Thursday, June 19, 2014

Italy: Wrapping up (the official version)

I am down to just a few days left in Padova. Direct from my Fulbright Final Report, here are a few, completely sincere reflections on my overall experience. Stay tuned for the "unofficial version" shortly. 

Piazza Garibaldi, Padova, in the city center

The Fulbright has been an amazing experience. Thanks to my time in Padua, I have grown both as a researcher and educator, as well as increased my multiculturalism and multilingualism by participating in various projects and communities. 

Regarding the Fulbright research project, my collaborator at the U. di Padova has been an outstanding role model and is now also a dear friend. I am so grateful for her invitation. In collecting and processing data for our project, I learned a lot about the Italian school system and Italian youth. I was also able to work with teachers of English and better understand the context of second language learning here in Italy, as well as in Europe. 

In another realm, my experience volunteering and co-facilitating a photography workshop at an after-school program for immigrant students allowed me to get more involved in the community. I engaged in many interesting conversations with program volunteers about bilingualism and the state of language teaching and learning in Italy. Thanks to my collaboration with a Portuguese educator and an Italian Education student, I was exposed to new pedagogical methodologies and frameworks during the photography workshop. I should also mention, the kids -and facilitators- had a great time.  

In sum, in both projects and their related community engagements, I was able to bring my passion for working with bilingual students to the Fulbright experience, and broaden my perspectives as well. Thus, I can say that both of these inquiries allowed me to contribute to the involved students/communities as well as acquire valuable knowledge and experience that will serve me in the future. 

The international experience of living in Italy for four months was intense in many ways. I worked hard to increase my knowledge of Italian and experience the culture in diverse contexts. I recorded my experiences and reflections and developed various theories of bilingualism in my blog. By re-experiencing the challenges and rewards of speaking a second language and learning to navigate a foreign culture, I was able to gain a new appreciation for the immigrants/second language learners with whom I work in the U.S. 

Many times over the past few months I have thought to myself, and I say now, "Thank you, Fulbright!"

A view from the hills just outside Padova, Colli Eugagni

Lion of St. Mark, symbol of the Region of Veneto, in Padua's Piazza dei Signori 

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