Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind. – Lucius Annaeus Seneca – Roman Stoic Philosopher
The Roman Philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca almost 2000 years ago described what the spirit of Fulbright simply is today: exchange of ideas, knowledge, culture in order to enhance vigor in our minds and our life. To receive such a prestigious award, the Fulbright-Schuman fellowship, to explore, to investigate new research challenges and to share experiences is one of the most rewarding life experiences a not-American scholar could aim for.
The scenography of this movie is in the United States of America and the main actor is an Italian research fellow from Technological University Dublin (Ireland) who spent one year as a research scholar at Stanford University, developing critical thinking on design for innovation in a growing aging population scenario. The feeling of being part of a special and open-to-share-knowledge program was perceivable since the day of the Visa request at the American Embassy in Dublin.
The officer welcomed me at the desk by saying: “Congratulations, you have the honor to have been selected to go to the USA through the most prestigious American fellowship. You’ll bring this excellence with you for all your life”.
Then the flight, the jet-lag, settling down, finding a place where to live, start doing research, start being influenced by the environment, by the culture, by the people. All of a sudden, I felt embedded into a new world, I had to make new friends, to share experiences, to learn from other peoples’ habits, to discover their stories and then become part of their journey called life.
As a result, this adventure got completely enriched by working for one of the top universities in the world, by connecting with influencers from one of the most innovative technology districts of the world -the Silicon Valley- by discovering the Golden State of California, by travelling across the USA from North Carolina, to Illinois up to Hawaii to give lectures, seminars and talks, and by connecting with foreigners, with locals, and of course with Fulbrighters.
These are just the tip of the iceberg. An iceberg called travel, change, explore. Exploring doesn’t mean only travel, discover new geographical locations, admire new sunsets and sunrises. It means to understand how a multicultural, vibrant society lives on a daily basis. It means to interact with a variety of people coming from all over the world to work, to study, to make an impact in society. It means to lose yourself, challenge yourself, open your thinking towards new ideas, get inspired, understand how people think and find yourself in a completely different environment. It means to take advantage of any disadvantage in order to grow up as a leader of tomorrow.
Exploring, enabling cultural exchange, learning experiences and imagine a meaningful future are all part of an adventure called Fulbright program. Dr. Matteo Zallio, M.Arch, Ph.D. is a 2018-2019 Fulbright Visiting Scholar in design to Stanford University, research fellow at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) and an Italian award-winning architect and designer. Articles are written by Fulbright grantees and do not reflect the opinions of the Fulbright Commission, the grantees’ host institutions, or the U.S. Department of State.