Tag Archives: Italy

Fulbright to Friendship: Connecting the Past to the Present with the Refugee Community in Trieste, Italy

By Umberto Speranza, 2016- 2017, Italy

Umberto Speranza, 2016-2017, Italy, enjoys the view of the Gulf of Trieste from the Castle of Miramare

Arriving in Italy nearly five months ago, I felt confident and proud to be returning to the country, and region – Friuli Venezia Giulia – where my grandparents emigrated from just 60 years ago. When Umberto and Maria Stolfo said goodbye to Friuli to start a new life in the United States, the Fulbright Program was just 10 years old. I’m certain that the last thing on their mind was the possibility that one day their grandson would return to Italy while serving as a cultural ambassador between their native land and their adopted home. On second thought, perhaps that is exactly what they were thinking.

In a year in which the Fulbright Program celebrated its 70th anniversary, I began my Fulbright journey to Trieste, Italy – the capital city of the region in which my grandparents were born and raised. I am here to assess how political situations impact refugee policy-making at the local level and to highlight the human consequences that ensue. Without a doubt, the journey they made as Italian immigrants to America ultimately paved the way for me to have this Fulbright experience. I am able to use this good fortune to work every day with people arriving from across the world with the hope that Italy might just be the adopted home that will allow them to create a future so bright that their children and grandchildren might never know the suffering that stems from war, terror and oppression.

Walking in the Shoes of a Deaf Italian: A Deaf American in Italy

By Sheila Xu, 2016-2017, Italy

ministery-of-foreign-affairs

Sheila Xu, 2016-2017, Italy, attending her first visit at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a Fulbright event

Italy is one of the top vacation destinations in the world. The whole country is an outdoor museum, steeped in ancient history and customs. The food and weather are world-renowned. Even spoken Italian has a musical rhythm to it. One would think moving to Italy would be la dolce vita, or “living the sweet life”.

However, living in Italy on a Fulbright grant as a deaf person (Cochlear Implant user with both oral and sign language skills) certainly has its own trials and tribulations. I came to discover that the experiences and perspectives of a typical deaf Italian and American are very different. One notable difference is our languages. In the United States, American Sign Language (ASL) is the language of deaf Americans. But almost nobody in Italy knew ASL! So, it was time for me to learn Italian Sign Language, or Lingua dei Segni Italiana (LIS), so I could communicate with deaf Italians. In fact, I am proud to say I am now able to give a presentation in LIS to an audience of LIS signers when giving seminars about the American Deaf culture and its people.

From Two to Infinity: What the Second Detection of Gravitational Waves Tells Us About the Future

By Daniel Hoak, 2015-2016, Italy

Daniel Hoak

Daniel Hoak, 2015-2016, Italy, visiting Florence

Last month, scientists in the LIGO and Virgo scientific collaborations announced the second direct detection of gravitational waves, from the orbit and merger of a pair of black holes. The event, named GW151226, arrived in the early morning on the day after Christmas, and has been nicknamed the “Boxing Day event” by the collaborations. With a second event in hand, gravitational wave science has moved beyond the era of sensational first detection, and is evolving into a reliable tool for astronomy and physics.

I recently finished my Fulbright year working at the Virgo gravitational wave observatory outside of Pisa, Italy. The last time Virgo listened for gravitational wave was in 2011, and since then, the instrument has been off-line for a complete upgrade.

At Virgo, I’m part of the team of scientists who are putting the final touches on the upgrade. To borrow a phrase from James Merrill, our job is to make wholeness out of hodgepodge: we’re creating a functional detector from the precision equipment that has been designed and built over the last five years. We plan to have the detector on-line this winter, in time to join the two LIGO observatories in the United States as they listen for gravitational waves.

Detecting Gravitational Waves at Home and Abroad

By Daniel Hoak, 2015-2016, Italy

Dan Hoak

Daniel Hoak, 2015-2016, Italy

Two months ago, physicists around the world were set ‘chirping’ with the announcement that gravitational waves had been detected for the first time. The detection is the culmination of decades of work, and it represents the beginning of a new era in astronomy.

I’ve been a member of the team that made the detection since 2005, when I joined the staff of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in Livingston, Louisiana. Later, I went to grad school at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where I earned my Ph.D. last fall. My doctoral research focused on data analysis with gravitational wave detectors, and I assisted with upgrades to the LIGO facility in Hanford, Washington that made the detection possible.

For my Fulbright research, I’m helping to upgrade the Virgo detector, an experiment located outside of Pisa, Italy. Using a third detector to listen for gravitational waves will improve the science tremendously: we’ll be able to detect weaker signals, across more of the sky, and work out their position and properties with greater accuracy.

A Bit of My Culture for a Bit of Yours

By Derrell Acon, 2013-2014, Italy

Derrell Acon

Derrell Acon, 2013-2014, Italy, performing “Da Dove Viene La Black Art” at the American University of Rome

And so it all began with an email stating that I had been awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student grant. I would present on Black American Art while I researched operas by Giuseppe Verdi in Italy. I arrived in the country with wide eyes ready to buckle down on my research and tailor my Black Art presentations. Almost immediately, however, it became clear that it was not only about my projects. I could sense from the very beginning that I would be changed as a person. As an opera singer, I have traveled throughout the world quite often, but I have never lived in a place with a different culture and language for as extended a period of time as I did in Italy. From registering with the cities in which I would live to grocery shopping, to my one-on-one voice coachings with an Italian maestro who did not speak a touch of English, I slowly let the culture of the place wash over me. Time allowed me to notice subtleties in the language and the ways in which people interacted with one another. I began to gauge what was important in Italian culture and what was nonchalantly commonplace.

With the help of some old friends in Novafeltria, I first translated my Black Art lecture-recital into Italian (save the singing and poetry) and then contacted different venues that might host me. I performed “Da Dove Viene La Black Art” at places as awesome as the Liceo Leonardo da Vinci in Milan and the American University of Rome to a very packed audience. On the research side of things, I traveled to many beautiful cities seeking materials on the Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi. I attended lectures, operas, concerts, festivals, and so on to collect as much information as I could about the historic composer’s life and his music. I returned to the U.S. with hundreds of pages of notes and many great recordings.