Professors exist to their students in an isolated world.  They only ever meet inside the walls of the classroom.  On rare occasion the real world of students and professors collide at the grocery store or local Blockbuster, making for a thoroughly awkward experience. 

                But professors at Elon, like Samuele Pardini, have full lives off campus.  Pardini has spent a lifetime travelling the globe, enlisting in the Italian military, seeing some of the greatest rock shows of all time, and finally, coming to teach in the small town of Elon.

                “You learned more than how to just say ‘hi, my name is…’ in his class,” said Geoff Hall, a junior at Elon who took a class with Pardini his freshman year.  “You learned about the culture, about the people, about what it means to be Italian.”

                Pardini grew up Italy and attended school in the city of Lecce, spent time studying abroad in Ireland, and did his masters work at the University of Buffalo.  He has attended and taught at a variety of institutions, including Vanderbilt and UCLA. 

                Pardini joined the roster of Elon professors in 2007.

                So with a life that could be a best-selling novel, what drew Pardini to a place like Elon?

                “I like the students and the school,” Pardini said.  “It’s a good place to raise a child; quiet and safe.”

                This is a big concern for a man who became a father only months after starting his new position at Elon.

                And for a man that is always changing his own surroundings and situations, it is the change that is occurring in the region that keeps him interested.

                “The economy is changing, everything is in motion, it’s always a different ballgame.”

                Sometimes the slow pace of southern life makes Pardini anxious though.  “There isn’t much of a social scene in Elon.”

                The social scene that Pardini is used to runs a little bit faster.  His favorite concert that he has been to was Bruce Springsteen in Madison Square Garden.  “My friend had tickets,” he said “so we just got on a plane and went.”

                With so many real-life experiences having made his life such an exciting place to be, Pardini seems to bring a real-life learning environment to his classroom.

                Junior Tony Rizzuto said that his favorite aspect of the class was how hands-on it was.

                “The cooking and the food were the best.  It was delicious and fun,” Rizzuto said.

                It is Pardini’s love of the language, culture and teaching that makes students in turn, fall in love with the class.

                “We used to leave little ‘I heart Italia’ signs around the classroom after class,” Hall said.  “I actually enjoyed going to his class every day.  Dr. Pardini managed to make learning fun again.”

                Much of the time, Pardini’s own life lessons came outside of the classroom. He spoke lightly of his time in the Italian military, but said that it taught him a great deal.

                Since his days in the military and attending rock concerts, Pardini has settled down a bit.  He now lives with his wife and two-year-old son in Elon.  Although it seems to be an ideal location for raising a child, it has posed some problems for Pardini and his family. 

                “My wife’s family is in Florida and all of my friends are in Buffalo.  It’s a long way to anywhere.” Pardini said.

                Getting a two-year-old anywhere can be a challenge, but it is one that Pardini seems to approach with the same calm attitude that he does the classroom.

                According to students, Pardini keeps a laid-back feel in his classroom where students often talk about more than just grammar. 

                “He just always seems comfy in his position and he brings his humor to class with him,” Hall said. “He shows interest in the language, but also in teaching and in the students.”

                So where does a globe-trotting, rock-concert-loving, husband, father and teacher go from here?  It seems that nobody knows, not even Pardini.

“What the future holds, you never know.”

Advertisements