Professor Rachele Salvini’s Path from Italy to Gettysburg
By Laurel Bennett, Staff Writer
Rachele Salvini, the Emerging Writer lecturer in the English department, grew up in Italy. She completed her undergraduate studies in Florence with an influential study abroad experience in Norway. Salvini visited the United States for the first time to participate in a writing workshop in New York and knew she wanted to work with English by writing and teaching for the rest of her life.
After her return to Italy to finish her undergraduate studies, Salvini completed her master’s in creative writing at the University of Westminster in London.
She decided to further pursue her love of English by attending Oklahoma State University for five years to pursue her doctorate in creative writing. When Salvini started her PhD program, she began as a teaching assistant, which helped her discover her love for instructing even more. The opportunities to study English are vastly more accessible in the United States, allowing Salvini to follow her passions to ultimately become a professor. After her graduation in May 2022, Salvini accepted a teaching position at Gettysburg.
Given that Salvini previously was at a large public university with about 23,000 students and now teaches at a small private college, she experienced a large transition with regard to both the students and the living environment. Despite this, she reiterated that she loves teaching, regardless of what institution she is at.
At Gettysburg, Salvini’s favorite thing to teach is creative writing. She also includes an exploration of composition, technical writing, and professional writing in her courses.
Salvini explained, “I like to use different mediums, like a multimodal approach, which could include how to make a podcast for instance.”
This approach makes Salvini’s teaching unique within the department due to her encouragement for students to learn in different manners by utilizing various forms of media. She also stands out due to her emphasis on textbook affordability. She acknowledged the importance of lowering the cost of classes for students by providing course materials on Moodle.
Salvini noted, “Coming from Italy where universities are not as expensive and then spending five years at a big public university, I thought that many students are paying a lot of money to be here.”
She continued to explain that many students take classes in departments they might not be particularly interested in to fulfill curriculum requirements, which makes textbook affordability even more important.
As a professor, Salvini strives to foster a positive learning experience for her students.
“I’m very honest with my students because I want them to see me as a human being, not just like an authority figure. They can then also be open and I feel that helps in creating a more intimate class environment,” said Salvini.
She continued, “At the start of the semester in every class I teach, I tell students that it’s important to challenge yourself and be open. People who have different experiences come from different backgrounds, so practicing empathy and kindness towards each other is an important thing.”
Although Salvini has been speaking English for so many years following her move from Europe, she still feels that her English could be better, especially when she is teaching or feels nervous. The positive learning environment she creates leads to her ability to ask students about her pronunciations.
“Students are very nice, and I can actually ask them if I butchered a word,” she said.
While Salvini experienced a unique path to end up teaching at Gettysburg, her decision to follow her interests while still in Italy resulted in an opportunity to write and teach English for the rest of her life.
“My love for teaching all classes related to English will never change. I enjoy working with all students regardless of if it’s in rural Oklahoma or here in Gettysburg,” Salvini explained.
This article originally appeared on page 5 of the April 2023 edition of The Gettysburgian’s magazine.