My progress as a multi-linguist began in my college years and later reinforced and given depth while living in Europe and in Mexico. Over some forty five years now, foreign visitors to New York (friends and friends of friends) continue to compliment me on my spoken language skills – more than truly I deserve. A by-product of multi-lingualism is multi-culturalism, which I have enjoyed nearly all my life.
A few years after college and service in the US Army, I was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to Spain. One day, upon my return, I had a surprise conversation with Senator Fulbright when I called his office for some information, never expecting the Senator to pick up. We had the most memorable exchange, my praises to his vision and initiative within the post WW II Government so vastly important. Among countless life-long benefits of Fulbright – first and foremost, the fine and enduring friendships, it became an honor to achieve fluency in Spanish, French, quite good German and after graduate school, Italian.
My interests in Spanish started in high school and reinforced in college but became singularly propelled by the Fulbright Fellowship program. A year in Madrid really put the polish on my castellano, and I took it as an art, truly poetry, not just a means of communicating.
Some years later, my required fluency in Italian was a must when establishing in Italy, on the heels of the Spoleto Festival of Two Worlds (where I was hired to be part of the bi-cultural staff), my own enrichment programs, The Spoleto Arts Symposia. S.A.S. achieved strong support by the Town Administration over some eighteen summers while its mission positively influenced the lives and careers of several hundred participants in the development of their art. By careful design, most of all of them became integrated into European culture. Dozens of testimonials expressed their delight with our organization and its offerings – especially the advancement every participant was afforded.
Three of Spoleto’s mayors honored Spoleto Arts and eventually awarded me the Pro Loco Spoleto prize, a very rarely given recognition – especially for a foreigner. I hosted all three mayors during their visits to New York City. Fulbright, in short, really launched my visions.
It is impossible to express fully the joy I have felt with the praises for our mission in advancing the performing arts, but especially in being able to integrate North American participants into European culture through a concrete and highly disciplined mechanism of SAS. The programs operated until 2010 when the great recession begun in 2008 made operations abroad very difficult as you may remember so, sadly, we were forced to cease operations. Yet, the ties and friendships still continue year after year for me and my wife and for a good number of participants.
As an added bonus, I also received First Prize in Modern Jazz at the 7th annual Festival de San Sebastián, Spain with my trio of two North Americans musicians and one Spaniard which came during my Fulbright Year. That gave cause to organize a succession of tours to Spain with jazz ensembles, almost all to the Castellón region. I have also toured France, spent a month in Poland, and almost 20 summers in Italy.
Here at home for the past twenty two years, I have hosted visiting Fulbright grantees to New York City, student scholars wishing to delve into the life, the customs, and the resources of this City. At every encounter we enjoy in-depth conversations about the benefits of Fulbright. Thus, I continue to maintain a commitment to the career advancement of every foreign Fulbrighter but I remain most committed to my fellow North American grantees in their pursuits of internationalism across many disciplines no matter their chosen specialty.
Clinton Everett – Fulbright to Spain 1971