Carnegie Mellon University

Jan Vairo

Jan Vairo

Lecturer of Italian

Address Department of Modern Languages
Carnegie Mellon University
Baker Hall 160
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


I prefer to consider myself a facilitator in the classroom where I am not simply dispensing knowledge but assisting the students in acquiring the language.  They have the tools and I guide them through the process of language acquisition.  My responsibilities in the department include teaching Elementary I and II, Intermediate I and II and the 300 level culture course.  My joy in teaching the elementary courses is that I start with a blank slate and encourage the students in the language-culture connection.  The intermediate and advanced courses allow me the opportunity to share even more in the growth and development of each individual language learner’s progress.  I believe that understanding the culture of a nation allows one to comprehend the how and the why individuals behave the way they do and this leads to an increased understanding and acceptance between peoples of different cultures.

My particular interest lies in the translation of religious materials, biographies and the like.  I have done several biographies about Monsignor Celona for the order of the Sisters of Reparation; an interesting translation regarding Elena Lucrezia Cornaro Piscopia (1646-1684): The First Woman in the World to Earn a University Degree by Francesco Ludovico Maschietto;  and for me the most important work was a translation of a work into Italian of the life of Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald “A Prophet for the Priesthood” by Fr. John Hardon, which will initiate the process for the cause for sainthood of Fr. Fitzgerald after it is translated into various other languages.

Besides my translations I find it very rewarding to be teaching at Carnegie Mellon not only because of the highly motivated students but also because of the camaraderie that has existed in the department since I began here in 1991.  What good is this gift I’ve been given if I can’t share it?


M.A., University of Pittsburgh

Department Member Since