Principality of Monaco: welcome into A.W.A. Academy, when Hearing is Feeling…
In occasione della Giornata Nazionale del Braille, istituita nel 2007 e nell’ambito della Giornata internazionale della lingua madre promossa dall’Unesco del 1999 – con lo scopo di dare valore della lingua madre e la ricchezza del multilinguismo – , vi riportiamo il testo dell’intervista realizzata in esclusiva al patron di A.W.A.A., pubblicata anche sull’ultimo numero digitale di QE-MAGAZINE (cliccare qui per leggere l’intervista in italiano).
The appointment was set for 3pm local time in Miami, 9pm for me, in the Principality of Monaco. Thanks to these wonderful and technologically advanced tools, such as computers and smartphones, we virtually met for the first time in front of a screen, via Skype. As reliable as a Swiss clockwork my interlocutor shows up in all black clothes and sits down smiling, looking at the camera with ease. Elegant in his manners, he begins to observe who is about to interview him, that is me. He doesn’t know me but, instinctively, I think he trusts me. He shows this by introducing himself first, as an accustomed man invited to a talk show usually does. To tell the truth it seems that he has always done this in his life, succeeding very well in conversing and intriguing those in front of him. And in fact, his easiness is perhaps due to his past as a ‘performer’ and musician (as a teen he was a drummer). It is not for everyone having a perfect timing between questions. I am therefore not surprised that, in the course of this exclusive interview, his spontaneity took over; and it isn’t difficult to imagine him in a near future, as the protagonist of original video podcasts in which he confronts presenters and guests. I’m sure he could be very successful, so much well he manages to captivate the audience with his brilliant eloquence. We start talking immediately, in a colloquial way, and he reveals to me the most fragile and moving part coming from his past, without filters, just holding a glass filled with an opaque cocktail, which seems being thirst-quenching. The whole picture, scenically speaking, gives a less formal aspect to the interview, exactly as he enjoys to do. As far as he is concerned, privacy seems to be a sacred thing – he repeated it to me more than once – but with his beautiful silverhair and his luminous gaze stigmatized by ocean-like eyes revealing a vivid intelligence, he candidly confides to me that the mother, a woman of great character and beauty, with the time passing, lost the colors, the shades and the outlines of the world due to an aggressive and irreversible blindness. As a child, he remembers spending a lot of time with her.
He says it with an affectionate, almost melancholy tone. Without openly revealing it with words, I understand how sweetly he took care of her, he, who after school and as soon as he could, rushed to rent the audio cassettes made available by the American Center for the Blinds, to listen to books with her, “allowing me to travel with my fantasies and my imagination” as he says. Maybe for this reason or for that particular sensitivity towards others and perhaps also thanks to the set lights that are illuminating him, now he seems to have acquired a certain allure to make him special. I also discover that in his ‘one hundred percent’ heart there are the sun and the strong cultural roots of his parents’ land of origin, Sicily, although in America he has found his way and his adoption homeland, even when the latter sent him to Vietnam for two years. Returning from this strong experience, like many of his age, he suddenly realises that he has become an adult. Not discouraged by the next biggest challenge, that of professional success, after various formative working experiences, he finally lands in real estate, a sector that consecrates him as a successful and highly respected businessman. “I had so many wishes to fulfill, and I succeeded, that’s why I’m talking about them in the past” underlines this Italian-American of noble origins. But it is when I ask him what the secret of his success is, that the answer blows me away: “I am a believer, I feel that God protects me and this has helped me a lot in life.” And now what are your next goals? “I want to feel good, continue to be happy and in order to achieve this I do my best to make sure that people around me are happy too, whether they are friends or people who work for me and with me”. Sbam, a man who talks about happiness in such words is rare to meet. I think he really made a good part of his dreams come true. But the passion for everything he did in the past continues to animate him even today. To be unquestionably a successful man, one must have a particular flair for business like few have. In his case, this happens and has happened with a fundamental assumption: respect for others, from strangers to those who collaborate with him: “Seeing my collaborators satisfied makes me fulfilled because life is made up of sharing. I believe in the human being, in innate goodness of mankind but not always everything goes as we hope. Destiny rules us but I am sure that there is a sense in everything we do” he adds.
It almost seems that his heroic Verga’s resignation (“The House by the Medlar Tree”) has evolved far from the motherland, turning into a dignified revenge that allows him to go further and farther. So, when I asked him what beauty is for him, the answer seemed even obvious: “Beauty is in people, of every race, gender, or creed. I appreciate not so much what is obvious on the surface, but what is hidden in their hearts. Beauty having a family and being able to care for it. And do you know what makes a person unique? ” asks me our Italian-American? “It is not just having faith in people but above all is not being afraid. I had many fears, as a child. But when I started to feel deep inside me that by doing good we are protected, right then, I start to become courageous, very courageous, and the different degrees of courage we apply in our daily lives makes us different from each other “. In recent years, like the most famous privateer of the big screens, Jack (as his friends call him) launched himself into a new project, as the producer of a unique audiobook, written first in Italian and then translated into English, interpreted by 32 voices, which turned this publishing product into a hit audiobook, “Quantum – The Trilogy Begins”. Why did he do it?
“When I read the novel, I was immediately hooked, I like speculative sci-fi genre. After meeting the author, Dean de Servienti, we decided to make the audio version of the novel. But I wanted something special. I remembered the radio dramas of my youth I used to listen to with my mother. So, with Dean we put together a team of audio production professionals, made up of people capable of doing their job with competence and genius, and in this way, we have made the largest audiobook 2020-21 production for a single title. I remember, as a young man, being fascinated by films but when going to movie theaters I was among the last viewers to leave, just to see the credits roll and, every time, I wondered what all those people were doing on a set. When I became a successful businessman, I often thought of exploring the audio and video production sector, so fascinating to me. Now that I have lived it directly for the first time, I think it is a wonderful world, worth of my attention.” At this point, I couldn’t help asking what, according to his vision, was the natural evolution of the audiobook. And once again he anticipates me, thus discovering that his being a philanthropist rhymes with a much higher vision, creating and presiding, since last year, an American Non-profit Corporation, the Audiobook World Awards Academy or A.W.A.A. whose awards ceremony will be organized in Monaco by the summer of 2023. But why the Principality of Monaco? “I love this place – he immediately underlines – I have visited it many times and I find it a magnificent place. The people are kind, which I deeply appreciate. Being a country on a human scale, international, where art is sacred, respected as well as being among the cornerstones of the cultural policy of an avant-garde set, here, I hope that this Annual Awards Ceremony can become one of the major events that already contribute to the notoriety of the Principality of Monaco. By giving visibility to authors, creators, and talents involved in the world of audiobooks, I would like that this world could become accessible to all, spreading knowledge wherever and whenever is possible, leaving a trace in history. After all, what would the new technologies be used for if not to facilitate the enjoyment of culture? For this I see no reason why the evolution of the narrated books cannot go far beyond the reasons that generated them, that is to allow not only the blind and those with visual difficulties but also the entire humanity to enhance their knowledges and to stimulate their minds for the good of all of us.” And with this message of hope Mr. Jack dismisses me. Ladies and gentlemen this is Salvatore De Guido, a true gentleman in the vast universe of knowledge and audio books …
QE-MAGAZINE è il primo ed unico periodico – ora mensile – digitale in italiano del Principato di Monaco (Facebook, Instagram e Twitter) che propone anche una versione stampabile del magazine digitale ESCLUSIVAMENTE agli abbonati che ne facciano richiesta. Seguiteci anche su nostro canale canale YOUTUBE MonteCarloBlog e anche sul nostro canale Telegram Monaco Pocket.