The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (WCGTC) is a non-profit organization supporting children with giftedness. The WCGTC consists of a dense network of scholars, researchers, educators, teachers and parents from around the world, oriented to the well-being of gifted and talented people of all ages. All Members may refer to a Delegate representing their country of origin.

In these two years I had the pleasure and the honor to represent Italy in the WCGTC, as Delegate.  I applied because I really wanted Italy to continue to be considered as a nation sensitive to the issues of giftedness, given the absence of our country in the last three years, with the knowledge that there is still much to build. It has been an honor to represent all the teachers (of every school degree) and researchers who continue with determination and courage to support Gifted Education, as a discipline that also takes to heart (in inclusive and not exclusive terms) of children and young people with giftedness.

Every two years the WCGTC offers an international conference. The first time I attended was 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee (U.S.A.). I had just finished my second year of doctorate and, unfortunately, I was very disappointed by the Italian academic situation.  I left Venice alone on 22 July, hoping to find new colleagues to start new collaborations with.

Usually, attending international conferences has always been for me as “a breath of oxygen”, important for both my brain and to recharge. Listen to the results of the new research, open to new teaching methods, meet directly prestigious authors in the field of Gifted Education that I had “known” only in books and articles, meet colleagues from all over the world, as well as developing and improving English.

In Nashville I found much more than I expected, the WCGTC community presented itself as a family. The only person I knew was Lianne Hoogeveen (current ECHA president). I had collaborated in her Radboud University (in the Netherlands) to replicate that doctoral research that I had started (and then concluded), unfortunately, in complete autonomy. Lianne was a fundamental point of reference for me: she supported and encouraged me during the 3 months where I spent in the beautiful Nijmegen (Netherlands).

Usually during international conferences I always give myself a gift: the “gala dinner”. Can never miss! It’s one of the few moments where you can network with your colleagues, sharing experiences, trying to start new collaborations. Even in Nashville I attended that unforgettable social dinner.

The title of the conference was exciting: “A world of possibilities: gifts, talents & potential”. Before leaving I had just wondered, who knows if I will really “a world of possibilities”?  I was so discouraged… I left Italy, alone, and went to a conference that no one had suggested. The feeling of loneliness had absorbed me and I struggled to believe that I could have, even “a world of possibilities”.

Well, yes! During the small bus ride from the huge hotel where the conference was held to an equally giant hotel, in the heart of Nashville, I met one person, Dr. Joyce Miller. We talked about Italy, Phd, gifted education, etc. I discovered that she was a professor at an university in Texas. The moment I had to choose the table to sit down, to my surprise Joyce called me to invite to have dinner with her. I immediately accepted, lowering the average age of the diners at that table; also because I was alone and I no longer saw my only point of reference, Lianne. I spent an unforgettable evening, I remember that there was also a couple from Peru. What could be nicer than talking about gifted education for an entire evening with people who reciprocated your interest? Loneliness disappeared all week in Nashville.

When we were leaving the restaurant, Joyce introduced me to a her friend and colleague, Connie Phelps. At the time I understood that she had to take a trip to Europe and maybe she would come to Italy, so we exchanged business cards (as I had done with 20 other people of the WCGTC). Connie Phelps was (and still is) full professor at Emporia State University and taught Gifted Education. Do you realize? I met a professor who taught exclusively Gifted Education at the university… I don’t believe it! Considering that in Italy this figure does not yet exist…

Since that July 2019 the collaboration has continued both with Dr. Joyce Miller (Texas A&M University Commerce) and with Dr. Connie Phelps (Emporia State University), we have formed an “international trio”: Kansas, Texas and Italy.

The WCGTC really offered me “a world of possibilities”, allowing me to meet competent and passionate people of Gifted Education and to pursue research in Gifted Education internationally (Italy included).

by Martina Brazzolotto

6 January 2021