Bilateral meeting in sciacca - october 2019

Work sessions at the I.I.S.S “Fazello” school in Sciacca 14-18 Oct 2019

During the bilateral week between the Dutch and Italians in Sciacca, the students participated enthusiastically in the various planned project activities, aimed at realizing the differences and similarities that characterize the cultures of the two countries involved in a bilateral exchange. The Dutch students learned about the traditions, history, language, architecture, religion, economy characterizing the culture of our country. In a complementary and parallel way, Italian students have become aware of cultural values, beliefs and perceptions of their own identity.​

Many work sessions were organized during the meeting, a very significant one was planned with the SPRAR. The SPRAR is a Protection System for Refugees and Asylum Seekers financed by the Ministry for the Interior through the National Fund for Asylum Policy and Services. Its aim is to support and protect asylum seekers, refugees and immigrants who fall under other forms of humanitarian protection. The SPRAR deals with the initial care, integration and protection of the person in question.

On Thursday, at school, the group of students came to know some young asylum seekers, beneficiaries of the SPRAR services, accompanied by the responsible of the local SPRAR, Giusy Indelicato and the young Ismail, a former asylum seeker, who crossed the Mediterranean sea by boat when he was a child but now a citizen of Sciacca, fully integrated in our society. First the refugees showed a short video of their homeland, which they had previously prepared. We could see from the video how Ghana, their hometown, is very poor and underdeveloped, where children walk barefoot and live in an unhealthy setting.

Students took turns to ask some questions as:

Why did you leave your country?  Was it difficult to adapt into a different country? How did you get to Italy? Do the people in Italy treat you well? What do you miss about your country? Do you have friends here? Could it be of help if we can share together the same values and live respecting each other? Did you find enough help from Italians? Do you want to live here for the rest of your life? Can we promote, understanding and tolerance, in order to prevent conflicts and ensure integration?

We were really impressed for the terrible stories affecting them and it was quite difficult to keep the conversation on because our hearts were broken and tears came up in our eyes inevitably. The dialogue with the refugees allowed students to learn about the sufferings and the serious reasons that led them to abandon their homeland. Moments of great sadness were mitigated by the smiling presence of Ismail who had fled from Ghana when he was a child to escape from religious persecution and violence, but now he is a cultural mediator, he supports his fellow citizens, and is very happy and thankful to the Italian people who helped him. He lit a spark of hope, the hope of a possible integration, recalling the founding principles of our Europe: hospitality, integration, solidarity. The workshop helped students to feel empathy and to reflect on how lucky we are to sit on this side of the world which shouldn’t be taken for granted. We ended with a nice group photo.

Since both Dutch and Italians have different religious creeds, a relevant activity was planned to encourage religious tolerance. The Dutch students have never seen a Catholic mass before, so we decided to celebrate it together at the Mother church, where the Priest was very pleased to host us. During the liturgy, the priest emphasized the importance of dialogue and prayer in God and on a relationship based upon mutual respect. Despite the different religions and cultures between the Dutch and Italians, the common Christian matrix made us feel united spiritually in one family.

The main goal of the project was achieved.  Tolerance and respect towards different religions and cultures, integration and inclusion, freedom of opinion, gender equality, the fundamental values defended by the European community are fostered and shared by the Erasmus+ “LTE” team. The students become promoters of the European values. All participants learned the importance of respecting cultural differences in order to work effectively together.