Notizie da Alessandro: The Eagle Letters

Note from the Archivist: This is the first in a series of posts by Alessandro Boussalem, the Fondazione CRT Intern in the AFS Archives.  Alessandro will be giving his perspective on his internship, AFS, and the archival collections through these "Notizie da Alessandro" ("News from Alessandro") posts.

"By bringing you to America for a year, we are hoping to let the American people know more about your country, its people, customs and ideas. At the same time, you will learn about America, and bring this understanding back to your family and friends at home."  -Stephen Galatti, 1956

These words were written by Stephen Galatti, Director General of the post-war AFS student exchange programs in the second number of Eagle Letters. This newsletter was sent to all AFS Participants hosted in the United States for a year. Its aim was to give AFS Participants a welcome message, advice on how to live in a new community and answers to practical questions that might have arisen from the students.

I stumbled upon this newsletter when I was working on a research request in the Archives of the American Field Service and AFS Intercultural Programs (AFS Archives), and was immediately captivated by it. Although they were written more than 50 years ago, and to participants of another kind of program, Galatti’s words and advice could apply to me in my internship at AFS, as well. Just as the AFS Participants arriving in the United States in September 1956, I moved to New York City from Torino, Italy, and started my internship at the AFS Archives six weeks ago, thanks to an internship made available by the Fondazione CRT.

Since I was an AFS exchange-student to Finland in 2007-2008, and have been an AFS volunteer ever since, I immediately saw that spending six months of my life working in the AFS Archives was a great opportunity. Just like one of the AFS Participants in 1956, I am now in a new country, meeting new people every day, and learning step by step how to work in a new field and live in a different cultural context. And just like an AFS Participant, I am determined to learn as much as I can from this experience: about archival work, about AFS, about the American culture. At the same time, I hope I will be able to let Americans know about my culture, sharing with them all my knowledge and experience of my country.  And every now and then, I will read an issue of the Eagle Letters, just to check if Galatti had some other good advice that could be helpful for me.

Click here to download a copy of the full 1956 issue of Eagle Letters.

-Alessandro Boussalem, Fondazione CRT Intern

Photograph caption: Alessandro reading the Eagle Letters in August 2013.

Posted August 12, 2013, by Nicole Milano