English Version/ To be Born in Naples... and To Study There

by Michelina Zambella

This is a magic love story between Italy and Jacqueline Aiello, drawn back to the land of her origins by her love for studying. The beautiful and brilliant "Jacquie" will leave for Naples after having been selected among 110 candidates. She will work as a Research Assistant of American Language and History, and she will continue her research on the American presence in Naples after World War II, the subject of her dissertation. Beginning in September Jacqueline will spend 10 months in her native city, thanks to a 2008-09 Fulbright Scholarship that she was won together with 14 other Americans.
Bearing the name of its founder, Senator J. W. Fulbright, the Fulbright Program originated in 1946 with the purpose of furthering the peace process through the exchange of ideas and culture between the United States and other nations throughout the world. Two years later began the cooperation between Italy and the United States through programs of study, research and teaching that so far benefited 7,000 scholarship recipients. The selected students are brilliant and filled with enthusiasm, among them Aiello who recently graduated with honors from Queens College / CUNY. Following is an interview with Oggi 7.

Tell us about yourself as an Italian American, where you were born and where you grew up:

"I have always been divided between being Italian and American, which is reflected in my name: Jackie, very hard to pronounce for Italians, and Aiello, a mystery for Americans. I was born in a small hospital on the Gulf of Naples in Italy, of an American mother from Brooklyn and an Italian father. At age 9 I moved to Long Island with my family, but I returned frequently to Italy to visit relatives and childhood friends. All of this influenced the choice of my fields of study. At Columbia University I graduated in American History and Italian Literature, and at Queens College I just completed a Master's degree in TESOL, the teaching of English."

Italy and your studies... what are the roots of your interests?

"Italy is part of my identity. I feel as much Italian as American. From an academic perspective, while studying American history I was fascinated by the post-World War II period, which I believe was the most important time of interaction between Italy and the U.S. My history thesis dealt with American projects and actions in Naples fr om 1943 through 1945. For my Italian thesis I translated Eduardo De Filippo's poetry which was written after the war about the American presence in the city."

What do you think of Italy? [Tell us] about the negative or positive aspects...

"I love Italy. I think it's a country with so many different people and traditions. I had the opportunity to visit several cities, but every region is different. I think it is an incredible country, but I will be able to give you a better answer after my return after ten months."

What does the Fulbright scholarship mean to you?

"It is a dream come true. I truly believe it is an opportunity that will allow me to bring together the various things I did during my life. I want to continue my research on the postwar period in Naples and on the ways those years influenced the city and the Neapolitan people during the last six decades. I will be able to dedicate myself to my research by speaking with Neapolitans and using the libraries. In Naples I will work as a teaching assistant of English language and cult ure in the United States at theTechnical-Commercial Institute "M.Pagano" and the Classical High School "G.Garibaldi". There I will be able to interact with Italian faculty and students, gathering ideas and opinions."

Your future projects?

"When I come back from Italy I would like to continue my studies with the hope of completing a doctorate. I would like to teach at the university, perhaps with a course on the postwar period in Italy".