Interview with Arberesh Professor Emeritus Vicenzo Bollettino
Interviewed by Keze Kozeta Zylo
Prof.Emeritus Bollettino is related to Isa Buletini. His town Barile, Italy is an ancient Arbëresh settlement, and the population still maintains strong links with that culture. The people of Barile speak Italian and Arbëreshë, a dialect of Albanian.
You are Arberesh, please describe your roots and how you keep the Albanian language alive?
The name of the town in the South of Italy, Basilicata, is Barile. We all speak Albanian since the 15th Century. The latest group to arrive was during the war in Kosovo. There is an active group of young Arberesh that is dedicated to keep alive the language and the traditions.
You told me that your last name is related to Isa Buletini. He is a prominent figure of the Nation, what did you learn about him?
I am who I am because of my Grandfather Boletini. That is the name that appears in the City Hall of the town. It was changed to Bollettino to italianize it by the political authorities.
My grandfather told me repeatedly of the proud Boletini family of whom we were part. I was told that the family was originally from the region of Kosovo and then moved to Skodra.
At what age you came to America?
When my grandfather Boletini passed away in the 50’s, we moved to the U.S.
We came here as war refugees. My grandfather moved from Skodra to Italy to escape the Serbs. He was a firm believer of everything Albanian and especially of the family name. He was a man of principles.
Tell me something interesting about your family in America?
I have four children, My son Enzo is the Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and has a Ph.D in International relations, my daughter Maria Alessandra has a PhD in American Colonial History, Vjolca is a Lawyer and Antonella is a specialist on infectious diseases and lives in Rhode Island
You have been a Professor Emeritus at Montclair State University a well-known University, what was your position there and how many years did you work there?
I studied at City College of New York and for my Graduate Studies I went to Rutgers University I got two Ph.D’s from there: one in Latin American Literature in Spanish and the other in English and Comparative Literature. I taught Spanish, Italian and Comparative Literature in English At Montclair State University for 48 years. Presently I am a Professor Emeritus at Montclair State University.
What are some of the scientific publications you have made in prestigious magazines?
I have published numerous literary articles on Latin American, Italian and Comparative Literature. I also published a book on Gabriel Garcia Marques, the Nobel Prize Winner from Colombia, a book on Boccaccio and Dante, book of poems in Spanish and A novel entitled: “THE TRAIN STATION”.
You were these week in the concert that the Albanian Ensemble performed on Cali school of music, directed by the famous artists Merita Halili and Raif Hyseni, how do you get to know them?
I have known Merita and Raif Hyseni because we are both interested in establishing an exchange cultural program between Montclair State University and the University of Pristina.
Raif and Merita are respected members of the Albanian Community in New Jersey.
I cherish their friendship.
Thank you so much and God bless you Prof. Dr. Emeritus Vicenzzo Bolletino!
Be well and thank you Mrs.Zylo.
I hope to see you again.
Montclair State University
New Jersey, USA