Meet the teacher: Gabriel Parodi

| Michaela Nesvarova

What makes a good teacher? Where does the passion for passing on knowledge come from? In the series ‘Meet the teacher’ we focus on people who are truly dedicated to education. In this episode we introduce Gabriel Parodi, hydrologist and an experienced lecturer from the Department of Water Resources at ITC.

Photo by: RIKKERT HARINK

In the past twenty years, he has taught and counseled hundreds of ITC students, with many of which he’s formed a strong bond. In 2017, he was selected as the ITC Teacher of the Year. Gabriel Parodi believes this was thanks to his personal approach to each student, thanks to him simply ‘being there all the time’. Because as he says, a good teacher is always there. A good teacher never disappears.

And Gabriel Parodi never disappears. He doesn’t go out to eat lunch, but stays in his office instead, because he knows that the lunch break is the only moment when students have the time to approach him. He does it because he was once also an ITC student, far away from his home in Argentina, and he needed his teachers not only to guide him through courses, but also through life. He needed someone to talk to and he realizes his students now need exactly the same. He also knows that by opening his doors to the students, he creates trust that won’t be broken. Students will never forget such a teacher.

At ITC the students construct the teacher, not the other way around

He is convinced that such a personal approach is absolutely necessary at ITC, because ITC students differ from all other students at the UT: because of the diversity of cultures and backgrounds and the solitude of their lives here in Twente. ITC students that first arrive to the Netherlands, one of the most advanced countries in the world, often come from a completely different environment and they are experiencing a big cultural shock. It is then the teachers’ responsibility to break this gap and help the students understand everything that goes on around them. This needs to be done on a very personal level, through private counseling and tailor-made approach during classes.

However, this does not mean that rigorous academic training and skills are minimized by the ITC teacher. On the contrary, it is always in the middle of the picture. The only challenge is that students starting at ITC are all on very different levels, which makes it nearly impossible for the teacher to use one general method for all of them. But ITC teachers don’t give up on students easily. Although Gabriel Parodi is sometimes worried his students will fail, he pushes these thoughts aside and focuses on helping the students instead.

After all, the students are constantly worried as well and they simply need someone to turn to. They come to a new foreign country and teachers almost become their substitute family. This creates a strong connection, which can be both wonderful and painful at the same time, because all students leave in the end. This can be very difficult for such a dedicated teacher. However, a good teacher does not abandon his students. A good teacher has a lot (and a lot) of patience and he is always there.   

 

This is the last 'Meet the teacher' episode before the summer holidays. We will bring you more stories in a few weeks!