|Learning fun: Matteo Stella (standing) organises a game for Vietnamese students over Christmas at Casa Italia in Ha Noi.
by Lan Dung
On weekdays, Giorgia Bassani and Matteo Stella teach Italian language and culture at Ha Noi Uni-versity. In their free time, they organise cultural events to introduce the Mediterranean country to local Italian-speaking people as well as write blogs in Italian on life in Viet Nam to give Italians an insight into the Asian country.
Bassani, 33, born in Pesaro, started her teaching job in Ha Noi in October 2012, after studying and working in several European countries. Stella, 28, born in Sarcedo, arrived in Ha Noi in mid-October, 2013, to teach Italian - and with a desire to see the country.
The two met each other at Ha Noi University and found that both wanted to help spread Italian culture in Viet Nam and Vietnamese culture in Italy. That's when they decided to establish a blog and organise cultural events.
The blog, named VivereVietnam (Live in Vietnam), was established in April last year after they organised an event to commemorate the anniversary of the Liberation of Italy, April 25.
"We are not only here to teach Italian, but to experience the country," Bassani says.
"The blog's logo, two ‘V' shapes made by their fingers, is what Vietnamese often do when they take photos. It is interesting because Italians do not pose like this. It is like a connection between Viet Nam and Italy."
In the blog, at viverevietnam.blogspot.com, Bassani writes stories on lifestyle and culture in Viet Nam, and about Italian famous people such as TV host Alberto Manzi and composer Gioachino Rossini.
Meanwhile, Stella, who did an undergraduate thesis on Viet Nam's transition from a centrally planned economy to market economy, writes about society and politics, including Viet Nam's 60th anniversary of Dien Bien Phu victory in May 2014, and Republic Day, Italy's national day, June 2.
Last Christmas, they worked with the Italian Embassy to hold cultural activities at Casa Italia and work with Dante Alighieri centre to mark the inauguration of a new library at the centre in November. The couple also show movies on Italy to provide people a glance at the country.
"Viet Nam has changed very fast. You can see it in traffic, the appearance of more buildings, and in its gross domestic product (GDP) growth. You can compare it with Italy of more than 50 years ago," Stella says, adding that the movie 1960, which they screened at Casa Italia, was an indication of things to come in Viet Nam.
Bassani added that in Italy, people gathered together on traditional holidays just as they did in Viet Nam for Tet, she says.
|Questions on paper: Vietnamese students learn more about Italian poet Dante Alighieri by answering questions written on paper under the instruction of Matteo Stella (left). The event was organised by VivereVietnam in co-operation with the Dante Alighieri Center to mark the opening of a new library. — Photos courtesy of VivereVietnam
Vu Hong Trang, who studied Italian at Dante Alighieri centre, frequently reads the blog and joins in activities org-anised by Vivere-Vietnam. She says that the blog makes her understand what the teachers think about Viet Nam and she feels their love for the country through it.
"I think that when they arrived in Viet Nam, they might not like the country at first. It was like the time when I started to study Italian. However, they gradually love the country, the same as my feeling for Italy," she says.
"I love the name of the blog. It's not about describing their experience in Viet Nam, but means they live a Vietnamese life, and have a thorough gasp of the country."
Encouraged by the teachers, Trang also contributes stories for the blog, telling about her ways of learning Italian and sharing her studying experience in Italy.
"I have learned a lot from them," she says. "They have changed my thoughts, making me to recognise that people can find enjoyment everywhere, especially in helping other people."
Giuseppe Tidona, the Italian Embassy's cultural officer, says that the number of local students learning Italian has increased remarkably in recent years. Tidona, who also teaches Italian at universities in Ha Noi, appreciates their contributions to the bilateral cultural exchange and intends to write articles for the blog. — VNS