RD: What are the things you remember most about Lviv?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: In the first years, I remember the enormous openness of the people. After the lectures, we went out together with colleagues and students in the evening. Of course, the students knew where the hippest bars were. We had a lot of fun during that time. In Europe, that has become almost impossible. One is immediately regarded as weird.
RD: Didn’t we used to have things in common with students?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: Of course. Famous people like Max Born, Heisenberg and others maintained very tight contact with their students. Today’s university, or rather professors, have only become evaluators of grades. The pedagogical element has been completely lost, as has the fun of studying.
RD: So a good climate for studying?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: Definitely. In direct exchange, people got to the heart of the matter in close contact with the professor without having read many and unnecessary lines in abstract and boring books. We also went on excursions together with the students and they showed us their culture. It was extremely refreshing. They were open and warm.
RD: Criticism was allowed?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: Of course. But try to contradict a professor as a student at university today. In 95% of the cases, you’ll get the short end of the stick. But only through criticism do you start to think more about your own statements.
There is a famous example of such criticism. Robert Oppenheimer, as a student, once received a calculation from Max Born for verification. The next day Robert Oppenheimer came to the institute and asked Max Born if he had calculated this himself. Max Born answered in yes and wanted to know from Oppenheimer why he asked that. Oppenheimer replied that he had been surprised because he had not found any errors in the calculation.
Try doing that today at a university with a professor!
RD: Have you always been in Lviv?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: No. The lectures were very well received and were then held all over Ukraine. I was then in very many places like Poltava, Kiev, Kharkiv and other places.
RD: Did other professors come to give lectures?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: Yes, after a few years, other colleagues who were friends also came and they had the same positive experiences as I did. I then tried to invite friends and colleagues. It was always a great success and close friendships developed that last until today.
RD: How are you feeling today about the situation in Ukraine?
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: To be honest, very bad. Apart from the fact that war is always a terrible thing, because it only hurts the innocent, I think about how much is lost every day and how we can reconstruct everything in the best possible way.
RD: Thank you very much!
Salvatore Giacomuzzi: With great pleasure!