Barbara Bellesi on the Value of Breathing Before Tweeting

Noodle Expert Barbara Bellesi shares her thoughts on why you should think before you tweet and how to become a less reluctant traveler.

Who would you pick, alive or dead, to be your teacher for a year? What would you want to learn?

I believe that Benjamin Franklin would be an incredible mentor. I have always admired his commitment to self-improvement and discipline, in addition to all of his other accomplishments that we are grateful for today.

What is one small piece of advice that has had a big impact on your life?

“Think before you speak” is probably the best piece of advice I’ve ever been given. In our social media-driven world, it’s now more like “Think before you tweet,” but the sentiment is the same. I have learned to diffuse stressful situations by taking a deep breath before expressing an opinion, or by holding off on sending an email until I’m in a calmer frame of mind. I’ve learned lessons from many public figures who have self-destructed on social media, and I am well aware that the wrong words can do serious harm.

Where would you send a student who hasn’t traveled before?

As a formerly hesitant traveler, I understand both the excitement and uneasiness that a student would feel about exploring other parts of the world. My first trip out of the U.S. was to Montreal, which proved to be a wonderful way to break in my passport and experience a different culture without venturing too far from home. Yes, Canada is our neighbor to the north, but Montreal has a very European feel to it, and it prepared me well for when I took a short trip to Italy the following year. I would encourage a student to test the waters in a similar way by choosing a destination that promises a different culture, yet isn’t too far from home.

When was a time that you failed academically, and what did you learn from the experience?

I never failed a course in college or high school, but there were definitely classes I struggled with in high school — and I carried my dislike for them (namely, history) into college. When I finally took my required history class in college, I experienced a completely different way of learning the subject, one that included novels, films, and museum visits, and not just the sort of textbooks that had always been completely boring to me. In short, I was pleasantly surprised by what an engaging history class could look like, and the experience taught me to look at other subjects from a fresh perspective.

Why did you go into your field, and how is it different from what you expected?

I always wanted to be a writer (which I am), and I kind of glided naturally into the field of education after graduate school, where I earned my MFA in Creative Writing. Writing and teaching are likely pairs, but I never expected to be able to combine them as well as I currently do. As an educator, I have taught writing and literature, and as a writer, I have written about education and personal development. I love learning, and I am happy to find myself in a situation where I am able to continue to learn.

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