Rachel Stone graduated from OU in 2014 with a degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Italian. Growing up in Oklahoma taught her the importance of community, and her time at OU gave her the confidence to venture overseas to put her skills to the test. She has been working as an English teacher in Cesena, Italy since 2015 where she has worked in different settings, including a private language school, local businesses, and a public high school and middle school as the mother-tongue English teacher. As of 2018, she became the Director of Studies at Centro Linguistico Cesena. While she loves living in Italy and values the career opportunities she has been given, she hopes to eventually move back to the United States to pursue a Master’s degree in the education field.
Could you tell us about the work you do now?
I’m currently working as a Director of Studies and English teacher at a private language institution in Cesena, Italy (Emilia-Romagna). My job primarily involves supporting teachers by evaluating materials, observing lessons, doing professional development courses and handling any scholastic problems teachers may have. I manage the school blog and website and help the school director organize community activities.
I also work as a freelance translator. So far, I’ve translated three books from Italian into English on a variety of topics ranging from Tuscan cuisine to European conservatism.
What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
When I came to Italy to work, I thought I knew what to expect. Teaching English abroad seemed like something that would be more or less predictable, considering I had a teaching degree. I quickly found myself in a competitive and expansive field, so I still had many things to learn, including how the education system in Italy works. I’m proud of the fact that I managed to work in public schools because in order to do so you have to win a public competition. There were several other candidates, but I managed to win the spot as the mother-tongue English teacher.
I’m also proud of the freelance work I’ve been doing. Even though I don’t have a degree in translating and interpreting, I’ve managed to successfully enter into this field and I really enjoy it.
How did Italian @ OU help you get to where you are today? How did your study abroad experience shape your personal and professional development?
Studying Italian at OU not only helped my language skills, it gave me access to an entire culture that would have been hard to find in Oklahoma. Thanks to the faculty and other students in the Italian department, I was introduced to Italian/European literature, film and cultural events that helped me develop a real passion for studying Italian and eventually paved the way for what I’m doing now.
Studying abroad truly opened my eyes to what the world has to offer, and I couldn’t have done it without support from OU. During my study abroad exchange with the University of Bologna, I met students from around the world and made friends with other Italian students. While the experience was challenging at times, I came home with a set of skills and newly developed knowledge that helped me hone in on what I wanted to do in the future. My time in Bologna wasn’t enough to quench my thirst for Italy, so a year later I came back to Italy to teach English.
What advice would you give to current students of Italian at OU?
It may seem obvious, but my advice would be to take full advantage of all the opportunities OU and especially the Italian department, so readily put at your feet. Living abroad and observing the way other universities work, I’ve come to appreciate how much OU helps its students get involved. It’s only up to the students to make the most of it. Looking back, I wish I had realized these things while I was still a student.