Abbiamo intervistato Dylan Gilbert in merito alla sua esperienza di Fulbright ETA (English Teaching Assistant) a Policoro (Matera). Here’s what he told us!
What brought you to your city/university/school in Italy? How long have you been here?
Hi, my name is Dylan Gilbert, and I have been fortunate enough to be working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant at two high schools, IIS Enrico Fermi and IIS Pitagora, in the coastal town of Policoro, which is located in the southern region of Basilicata. I arrived a little over seven months ago, enthusiastic and ready to start my first job post-graduation in the Italian classroom.
Had you ever been in the South of Italy before?
While studying at Middlebury College, I received a grant through my school to conduct my senior thesis research in Art History in Palermo. I was very excited to go not only because it was my first time ever visiting Italy (I was actually a Russian major at Midd) but also the grant allowed me to examine in person the Arab-Norman artistic commissions of Roger II, which were the focus of my research. I absolutely loved my short stay in Sicily, and that experience in the South became a principle reason as to why I applied to the Fulbright ETA program.
How do you like your experience so far?
I really could not have asked for a more worthwhile and meaningful experience here in Policoro. Getting to wake up each morning and be a part of my students’ lives is something I really cherish. To me, it has been very fascinating getting to experience how my native language is taught down here and how my previous pedagogical training could help enrich my students’ language learning experience. I’ll definitely say that it has been an adventure trying to figure out what works in a classroom environment that is different to the one I know, but that’s the challenge that gets me out of bed each and every day. And of course, I can’t complain about the weather or the food.
What’s one thing that may have surprised you about the habits and customs of the Italians you’ve come in contact with?
I would have to say I am really struck by the amount of hospitality that I’ve been shown here in Policoro. Coming from the suburban Midwest, I am used to a general friendly disposition, but nothing can compare to how open the teachers and students that I work with have been. From afterschool conversations at the local café to the copious amounts of delicious food served at a teacher’s Sunday lunch to even the wonderful chaos of an 18th birthday party, the community has really accepted me with one big hug, which I don’t think I quite expected but am so incredibly grateful for.