Rome, June 10, 2019
(As prepared for delivery)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General Vincenzo de Luca, Fulbright Commission Executive Director Paola Sartorio, colleagues, friends, Italian and American Fulbright fellows, welcome to the U.S. Embassy.
It is a pleasure for me to speak to such a distinguished audience of American and Italian Fulbright scholars and students. I want to begin by thanking the Italian government for its partnership and commitment to the Fulbright program. The Fulbright Commission in Italy is truly a binational effort. I particularly want to thank the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education for your cooperation.
I also want to give an enormous thank you to the Fulbright Commission’s key partners:
- The Simone Cesaretti Foundation,
- The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF),
- Georgetown University,
- Roberto Wirth,
- The Casten Family Foundation,
- Fondazione con il Sud, and
- The Zegna Family Fund.
Your continuous and significant contributions are critical to the success of the U.S.-Italy Fulbright Commission. Thank you for your partnership.
And, a final thank you to all those working behind the scenes to keep the Fulbright engine running, the Fulbright Commission staff and the PA Rome staff. Thank you for your dedication and commitment.
The Fulbright Program is the U.S. government’s flagship international education exchange program operating in over 160 countries worldwide. Since its inception in 1946, more than 390,000 Fulbrighters, 8,000 from Italy, have participated in the program. 71 years ago, in 1948, the Fulbright Program in Italy was established. At the inception of the bi-national Fulbright Commission 23 years later in 1971, it was understood that “bi-nationality is not based on quid pro quo but is a principal that permits common academic efforts for common academic goals, involving an exchange of talents and services across national lines.” This principal should be and is reflected in all Fulbright exchange programs.
This principal is also reflected in the program’s participants. To all of the Italian fellows – congratulations on your decision to undertake an academic journey abroad in the United States. You are about to embark on a truly remarkable adventure. The selection process for all Fulbright programs is highly demanding and your presence here is evidence of your academic excellence. There are 42 Italian Fulbright fellows traveling to the United States this coming academic year as distinguished chairs in Italian studies, research scholars, graduate students, and Foreign Language teaching assistants.
As leaders in your respective fields of study, selected from an extremely competitive pool, you have the honor of representing Italy in the United States and sharing the best of Italy and Italian culture with colleagues, friends, peers and others. As Fulbright grantees, you are also expected to immerse yourselves in the local community and fully experience American culture.
I am thoroughly impressed by the diversity of your fields of study. Just to name a few:
- Circular Economy and life cycle management;
- Smart colloidal nanoparticles;
- Labor Law and workers’ occupational health and safety;
- Black diaspora folklore as a source of black feminist theorizing;
- Data protection challenges; and
- Ethics of Information Technology.
No matter what your research project is, I can say that the breadth of academic experience in this room is truly remarkable. Please take the time to enjoy every moment of your time in the United States. Like the many Fulbrighters that have preceded you, without a doubt you will make a great contribution to U.S.-Italian relations by increasing understanding among our peoples.
To the American scholars and students: Your current stay in Italy is ending. I am sure that in addition to all of the research notes and data collected, you will carry with you warm memories of this unique experience. I hope that you took every advantage of the great gift that a Fulbright grant confers. The relationships that you have established in Italy and the understanding of the United States that you have conveyed to the Italian people are vital contributions to sustaining the close ties between our two countries. I can personally attest that this is not an “Addio all’Italia”, è un “Arrivederci”! You will undoubtedly return.
In closing, I want to extend my best wishes to those who are beginning this transformative journey and congratulate those who are completing it.
Congratulazioni e in bocca al lupo a tutti!