Germán Silveira arrived at Pitt-Greensburg in August 2022 as a Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence. He returned to Uruguay on April 24, 2023. This article is a brief overview of his campus experience.
A group of Pitt-Greensburg faculty and administrators had a vision—and a mission for their campus. Their goal was to enhance the global perspectives of the students at the Hempfield Township campus and build on the interdisciplinary curriculum and philosophy already in place. After nearly two years in some level of lockdown, the campus community was ready for a return to normal and to venture out into the world again. Inviting an international scholar to campus was one way to quickly and easily bring this broad viewpoint into the classroom and the campus community. Working together on this effort were Jacqueline Horrall, PhD, vice president for Academic Affairs, Frank Wilson, PhD, assistant vice president for Academic Affairs, John Prellwitz, PhD, Humanities Division chair.
The recommendation to apply to the Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence program came from the campus Study Abroad office, and the committee submitted an application on behalf of Pitt-Greensburg seeking an S-I-R from a Latin American country. When it came time for the interviews, faculty members Pilar Herr, PhD, and Silvina Orsatti, EdD, joined the committee to provide their perspectives. The rationale for requesting a Latin American S-I-R was that Pitt-Greensburg’s strong Spanish-language program and its multiple faculty who are native speakers of Spanish would provide a warm welcome to the S-I-R. From there, the S-I-R could step into other disciplines and classes to provide a different and broader view of the subjects being taught.
The group was unanimous in their selection of Germán Silveira (pronounced HER-MAN SEAL-VAY-RAH), PhD, as Pitt-Greensburg’s Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence for the 2022-23 academic year. Silveira, his wife Maria Ximena, and son Felipe arrived August 15, 2022, from their home in Montevideo, Uruguay. Moving into a suite in the Academic Village, they quickly became active participants in campus life. Felipe, who turned 11 in September 2022, enrolled at West Point Elementary School and attended classes through December 2022. (Maria Ximena and Felipe returned to Uruguay in February in preparation for Felipe to begin school there in March.)
A professor of Theory of Culture at the CLAEH University (Uruguay) and of Communication and Reception Theories at the Catholic University of Uruguay, Silveira earned his doctorate in Transcultural Studies from the Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University (France, 2014). In 2009, he was awarded a scholarship from the Swiss Confederation and earned his master’s degree in communication at the University of Geneva. Silveira also is a researcher at GESTA (audiovisual studies group) and a member of the National System of Researchers in Uruguay.
“Through his expertise and personal experience, Dr. Silveira was able to bring new perspectives to our campus,” said Robert Gregerson, PhD, president of Pitt-Greensburg. “His insights and contributions in classes and programs were incredibly valuable. It has been a real pleasure to have him as part of our learning community this year.”
“It was a surprise to be selected [to come to Pitt-Greensburg],” said Silveira. “The Fulbright Scholar-In-Residence program is a prestigious program, and it has been a dream to come to the United States. It was a great opportunity to come and learn about the university culture and American culture. ”
Silveira was busy guest lecturing in a variety of classes at Pitt-Greensburg. The topics ranged from Latin American history, his vision of intercultural communication, and discussions on modernism/film studies in literature and digital humanities to conversational Spanish and Latin American cultural presentations with the Spanish faculty, students, and campus Spanish Club. He also joined students and faculty in a tour of the Ruins Project, a permanent exhibition of mosaic art sited on the structures of an abandoned coal mine in Fayette County.
Team teaching with Wilson in the Drugs & Society class allowed Silveira to bring his perspective on Latin American legalization of drugs as compared to US laws and culture. Silveira also regularly participated in the Honors Program classes, contributing to the discussions with some of Pitt-Greensburg's best and brightest students.
"I've appreciated the experience of meeting and working with a new colleague during the academic year,” said Wilson, who also served as the operational point person for the S-I-R. “My understanding of the world was enhanced by my relationship with Germán and his family. The point of the Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence program is to create a two-way exchange of ideas and knowledge between academics from different countries and cultures. My sense is that we were successful in meeting that goal. It was a stimulating experience for me, and I'm confident that Germán feels the same way."
To experience as much as possible during his stay, Silveira made a point of going to as many campus events as possible. “I wanted to see how the University works in the social area.” He even participated in the students vs. faculty/staff charity volleyball game in March and the Blackburn Center’s Walk a Mile In Her Shoes event. After attending the concerts performed by the Pitt-Greensburg Chorale and Chamber Singers, he noted that it was fascinating to see how the students arrived at a high level of performance.
Silveira noted that the biggest difference between US higher education and its European and Latin American counterparts was the importance that sports were given in the United States. “There are no athletic facilities on the campuses in Latin America, Switzerland, and France,” he explained. “If you choose to pursue athletics, you are participating on your own in a community-based social club.”
Silveira and his family also visited local attractions like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater and made multiple visits to Pittsburgh. They also visited Philadelphia, and Washington, DC, along with attending NBA games in New York and Cleveland.
“This was an opportunity for my son to live in a foreign place,” said Silveira. “He got to experience life in a different culture and meet people from another country.”
Silveira had visited the United States to attend conferences, but this trip allowed him to immerse himself in the culture. “It’s different to know the culture than to teach about a culture you’ve only read about.”
When Silveira left the campus on April 24, he took with him his impressions and experiences of life lived on a small, college campus in a semi-rural region of Pennsylvania. He noted that his vision has been broadened and it will enhance his pedagogy moving forward.
“We decided to live an adventure, and you don’t know what you will experience,” said Silveira about traveling with his family to Pitt-Greensburg. “We have friends here. Where you have friends, you have roots.”