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A Journey Begins in Alba

posted Jan 30, 2012, 7:19 PM by Doug Snider   [ updated Feb 1, 2013, 3:05 PM ]
On January 30, 2012, Piercarlo Rovera, the head of Alba’s Liceo Scientifico Statale Leonardo Cocito and the Liceo Classico Statale Giuseppe Govone, greeted the newest recruit to his faculty at Milan’s Malpensa Airport. Joined by teachers Marina Rista and Luisella Vernone, professor Rovera drove the young scholar to Alba, now carpeted in its first snow of the winter.  Last summer, the principal of both prestigious Alba high schools extended an offer to Sean Snider of Medford to teach, and learn, in Alba’s science and classics schools. Snider, a recent graduate in physics from Santa Clara University, met the headmaster during the student exchange that brought Alba students to Medford. Sean’s desire to teach high school science had met headlong with a climate in which American schools were paring their faculties and reducing their course offerings.

Sean had no hesitation accepting Rovera’s generous offer and spent the next few months preparing for a unique teaching experience.  Corresponding with his future maestro and his future colleagues, Sean began preparing a syllabus for how he would teach high school students in Alba. Obviously the language would be a challenge and he would be both a teacher and a student at the same time. Expressing his passion for physics to students who may not have a perfect grasp of English will require skills he did not acquire in the physics lab. 

Fortunately for Sean, this is not his first visit to Alba.  In 1994 he traveled with his parents and his brother Ryan to visit dear friends of the Snider family.  Even at eight years of age, Sean showed an affinity for Alba and all things Italian. He ignored the language barrier and carried on conversations with his Italian peers as though they had a common language. During his first visit, he even faced off on the soccer pitch with Alba’s mayor Enzo Demaria who may have allowed a few goals that were not entirely earned. Sean went on to be an all-state forward on his state championship winning high school soccer team, perhaps thanks to his Italian coaching.


Pino Dutto and Sean on Via John Snider
In 2003 Sean returned to Alba as part of the Medford-Alba student exchange. He not only reconnected with friends from his first trip but made many new friends in Alba. When the Medford students found themselves without and English speaking host available, they called upon Sean to make sense of a language that none of them had studied. Sean will be right at home in Alba. One of the unique opportunities he will have is spending time with his Italian “uncle” Pino Dutto and walking along Via John Snider, a scenic Alba street named in 2010 for his grandfather, former Medford Mayor John Snider.
Sean with Elisa Perletto's Volleyball Team
Sean at Elisa Perletto's Volleyball Game

UPDATE: Since Sean’s arrival in Alba, he has begun teaching English in the two high schools and helping students prepare for a very important five section English language exam on March 1. He is helping the students with the two sections of the exam on English usage. Sean will soon begin teaching fifth year physics classes with emphasis on magnetism and radiation. He has gotten to know his colleagues at the two schools which include teachers from England, Canada and one from Baltimore.  He says he is not only learning Italian but also the differences between American English and British English.

On Tuesday, February 21, Sean returned to Alba from “Settimana Bianca” (White Week) in the village of Sampeyre in the Italian Alps. He joined the teachers and students from the two high schools for this traditional pre-Lent break. He says the weather was beautiful and he even got a little tanned.  Back at work in school now after the break, he is expanding his academic activities to include teaching four Physics lectures on magnetism, black body radiation, resistance and relativity. He is also helping with Philosophy and translating Petrach. He continues to work with students preparing for the very critical English examination on March 1, 2012.
He reports that as his students’ English improves, so does his Italian.






On Sunday, February 26, Sean was honored at a welcome dinner in the village of Guarene.  The event had been postponed several weeks due the severe winter weather that greeted Sean upon his arrival in Alba one
month ago. The postponement was fortuitous since it moved the event to the day after his 26th birthday and gave him time to gain some confidence in his Italian speaking. Sean addressed the gathering of friends in Italian. Sean thanked the special people in Alba who had made his stay in Alba possible and had given him the most memorable birthday party of his life. He also paid tribute to his late grandfather, former Medford mayor John Snider, who played a key role in bringing Medford and Alba together.