#ETAtoITA 2014: Jenny Schiff – una testimonianza da Napoli

Jenny Schiff è una dei 17 Fulbright Graduate Students statunitensi che trascorreranno l’anno accademico 2014-15 in Italia per approfondire i loro progetti di studio e ricerca. Jenny viene da Columbia University e al momento si divide tra Napoli e Padova dove sta portando avanti un soggiorno di ricerca nell’ambito della Filosofia. Affiliata presso l’Università di Napoli Federico II e presso l’Università di Padova la borsista statunitense sta sviluppando un progetto che ha per tema“Philosophy Education in Italian Primary and Secondary Schools“.

Abbiamo raggiunto Jenny per farci raccontare come sta andando il suo soggiorno di studio qui in Italia.

Jenny Schiff – Naples, Italy

Fulbright Commission: What brought you to Naples and Padua in Italy? How long have you been here?
Jenny : I studied Philosophy in college and came to Italy to research how Philosophy is taught in Italian schools, the role and value of Philosophy in students’ education, and the possible lessons that can be applied to the American educational system. Students in high school in Italy study Philosophy which is generally not the case in the United States. Providing the space for students to engage in philosophical inquiry helps foster the critical and complex thinking skills necessary to engage in active citizenship. I am spending time in both Naples and Padua through affiliations with the University of Naples Federico II and the University of Padua. I arrived in Naples in the beginning of October and will move to Padua for the second half of the academic year.


Had you ever been in the South of Italy before?
This is my first time in the South of Italy. In fact, this is my first time in Italy at all! Though I have never visited the country until now, I feel that parts of the Italian culture permeated my upbringing in the United States. I grew up playing classical music and sitting by my grandpa’s side in his painting/architecture studio, and therefore Italy’s rich history in music and art/architecture has trickled into my way of being. Of course, there is nothing like actually being here in person and I am thrilled to be able to spend the whole academic year here.

How do you like your experience so far?
I am having an amazing experience so far, both academically and personally. The Italian people I have met and encountered have been incredibly kind and welcoming. I am already learning a lot about the dynamics of the Italian education system and how Philosophy is valued as a meaningful subject in schools. On a broader level, I am trying to take in as much as I can every day, whether that’s spontaneously going for a walk to partake in some Neapolitan street life, or having a long and enlightening conversation with a local shopkeeper or butcher. At all times, my mind is open and ready to take in new and unique experiences. I am also finding that by spending time away from the United States, I am learning more about what it means to be an American, and in this way, my identity is constantly evolving.


What’s one thing that may have surprised you about the habits and customs of the Italians you’ve come in contact with?
I was aware that Italians are typically very late to events and appointments, but it is a different story actually experiencing this. Nothing starts until at least 20 minutes (usually more) after the official start time and I am still getting used to this, especially given the fast-paced, time-sensitive New York lifestyle to which I am accustomed. The whole notion of time works in a completely different way here, but I am actually finding it quite relaxing and liberating. The funny thing, though, is that I don’t know whether to be on time or late when I meet up with other Americans- a sort of cultural confusion!