The intercultural activity held yesterday by the African student union of Verona was more than just the talks.
It was a day packed with numerous activities, all to promote intercultural exchange in the University and beyond its border.
The city of Verona is fast be reawaken to the challenges ahead, as integration and intercultural matters finally make their way into the academic circle with young Africans struggling to find their ground. According to the president of the African student union, Mr. Edward Coroma from Sierra Leone, this year’s program was deliberately drawn out to involve everybody in the University, as we promote the reach African culture and exchange our values with the rest of the people.
“I want to thank the African student union for organizing this event and inviting the local council to participate…”
That was the initial remark of Mr. Pieralfonso Fratta Pasini, the chief adviser to the local council of Verona, who represented the council in the roundtable discussion.
The gathering which took place in one of the University’s lecturing hall was nearly everything to the audience, as they listened attentively to the issues well discussed. The bundles of articulated question later forwarded to the roundtable demonstrated that they were all truly participating.
The African students, as explained by Fortuna Ekutsu from Congo, the only student who sat with their invited dignitaries at the table, are faced with multiple problems; from accommodation to finance, papers and other bureaucratic bottlenecks.
“It’s far from being easy with us, especially with the new students who are practically frustrated sometimes… In most cases, the stress even affects their academic performance,” he added.
Reacting to the sympathetic condition of the students, Mr. Pieralfonso Fratta Pasini submitted in what he called self-criticism; that immigration has often remained a political thing, instead of been truly resolved in Italy. He however stressed that Italy has only drew a hard line on immigration these lately.
Going further, he said that it would have been better if immigrants were fully integrated into the Italian society and enrich the Italian culture with it.
In reacting to the point raised by a student that many of their colleagues usually do not return to their countries of origin due to the lack of incentives and other supports to start up with, the representative of the University governing body, Prof. Daniele Corletto advised that it would be good for the students to better organize themselves and look out for assistance wherever possible. There are a lot of associations out there, he said, who might be willing to help those ready to return home at the end of their studies and start up some small scale projects.
Taking the argument from students’ affairs to cultural integration, some members of the audience quickly seized the opportunity to ask the representative of the Verona local council if there were some initiatives been undertaken by the local council to truly address integration in the city, like giving the immigrants more responsibilities in the day-to-day activities in the city, so as to reduce the wrong perception of the people.
As the president of the student union puts it in a short interview after the session, there is hope that the local council might involve them in a more participative approach in Verona’s quest to better integrate foreigners into their society.
After all, as one of the professors stressed during the discussion, integration in not an option but the only solution in the world of today.
“The real success in human history is only achieved through our diversities…,” he added.
Ewanfoh Obehi Peter
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