The Trentino region is generally perceived as a welcoming context, with the strong presence of the Autonomous Province of Trento and civil society engagement. The Province encourages civil society organizations such as social cooperatives and not-for-profit organizations to provide services of social nature to migrants and refugees, through project grants and coordination.
In 2014, more than 170,000 refugees and migrants managed to make it to the Italian coast and almost 65,000 requests for international protection were received. Since 2008, following the first North African emergency (2008), the events associated with the Arab Spring (2011) and the outbreak and worsening of old and new conflicts in numerous territories in North Africa and the Middle East (2013-2014), there has been an increase in the number of refugees arriving. This trend became acute in 2014: the monthly figure for number of boats landing increased continuously from January to September, when they reached a peak of 26,107.
In the following months, the number of refugees and migrants reaching the Italian coast by sea fell slightly, although totals for each month were still in excess of 6,000 (December 2014). In the first few months of 2015, the numbers arriving were greater than in 2014, exceeding the same month of the previous year by more than 1,000 per month. As of 14 September 2015, approximately 121,500 migrants have reached Italy, primarily Eritreans, Nigerians, Somalis, Sudanese and Syrians.
Description of the initiative
The initiative involves a small number of migrants in projects focusing on the depiction of exclusion and social disadvantages. The participants enroll in a journey of movie projections and debates with higher secondary education institutions, together with experts and partners of the project from A.T.A.S onlus, Centro Astalli Trento, the Trento municipality, the association “Il Gioco degli Specchi”; the Diocesan Ecumenic. The aim of the project is to raise awareness on cultural differences, exclusion, through intercultural education and social inclusion.
Participants of this journey, “story for cinema”, are given training on three themes – racism, the job market, and stereotypes – and how to address these issues using the cinematic medium. They then organize projections followed by debates in higher secondary schools, including vocational education and training, with the aim to debunk myths and misconceptions about migration and what it means to be a stranger. Through these events, students are given the occasion to speak with migrants instead of about them only.
For the first project cycle, the group will meet with four local schools on three occasions corresponding to the project’s three themes.
Implementation of the initiative
The training centre has been organising cinema events since 2011, with migration as a recurring topic. It was decided in 2015 that migrants should be actors of these events and be actively engaged with a central role in the discussions.
For this project, participants undergo a series of 7 to 8 training sessions to acquire basic pedagogical competencies before the interventions at the partner schools.
Training the participants for the interventions triggers a multiplier effect which allows the TCIC to have a greater impact than with the events organised previously.
During this training, participants discuss the film, underlying important aspects to stress-out during the interventions in classes, and reflecting upon the relevance of the film for their individual lives.
After the interventions at the partner schools, an awareness rising tool-kit is distributed to the teachers with training content and films, as well as additional knowledge assessment material.
At the end of the project cycle, a public event will be organised to discuss the outcomes of the interventions with stakeholders, the Trentino population and all participants.
Resources dedicated to the initiative
Overall budget: around 15 000€ from the centre’s main budget
Main financial source: All activities of the TCIC are financed by the Autonomous Province of Trento
Human resources dedicated to the initiative
Two staff members of the training centre, two external tutors for the preliminary training and one volunteer.
Number of refugees reached by the initiative: 10 to 20 individuals divided in 3 groups
The TCIC is proud to contribute to spreading a non-stigmatising vision of social and cultural exclusion. It will however be difficult to measure the change in perception of the population on migration.
The project has created a strong network of actors, including public authorities and for schools, dedicated to inter-cultural and social dialogue.
An expected result is the enhancement of the participant’s integration journey and building capacity for the partner associations to integrate migrants into the local society.
Critical success factors
The Autonomous Province of Trento has created a centralised platform for development and internationals solidarity projects. This platform creates favorable conditions to discuss migration and asylum seekers issues and find potential partners to implement projects.
This platform also serves as a one-stop-shop for migrants and asylum seekers to find a job, training and social services and has facilitated the enrollment in activities such as the one described here.
- Lack of indicators to measure the impact of awareness raising activities
- The unstable nature of migrant’s and asylum seekers’ situation makes it hard to estimate future participation, even during the project cycle
- Maintain the attention of the partner schools on a bottom-up approach related to on-going events and fluctuating media coverage. This calls for considerable preparation work and early communication with the schools
- The high workload of school teachers can hinder their availability for the project.
The CFSI – Training Centre for International Cooperation is an organisation dedicated to improving the knowledge and abilities of the individuals involved in international co-operation. The Centre offers training services, as well as creating networks and awareness designed to supply adequate tools to engage in international solidarity activities, while at the same time strengthening awareness and collaboration among individuals. The services offered by the Centre are open to all those who are active in community co-operation or interested in participating. The offer is particularly aimed at, but not limited to, the organised expressions of society such as Local Bodies, associations and Non-Government Organisations.
The CFSI proposes courses, workshops, seminars and other forms of learning about international co-operation, in accordance with the principle that knowledge is the fruit of processed and shared experience. The training aims first and foremost to develop awareness as regards the world we live in, with its complexity and its continuous changes, then going on to increase the awareness and the critical sense necessary to be active individuals in a community that is open on a global level. That is, going from awareness to action, with training aimed at professionalism: giving people the operational tools to make decisions, to optimise resources and to innovate as much within an organisation as within relations between various realities.
That is, designing the theoretical framework necessary for guiding the activity: understanding the general trends of co-operation, discovering the resources present within the territory and giving them some order, producing a critical and farsighted thought, discovering the needs of learning that are present but as yet unexpressed. It is the knowledge created with research that allows for quality training to be designed, in harmony with demand and keeping up with the times.
The centre facilitates meetings between people and private or public organisations and institutions involved in international solidarity. It encourages an exchange in terms of experiences, a comparison of practices and the co-ordination that is essential to ensure the effectiveness of international solidarity.
4. Creation of awareness
TCIC promotes awareness about the activities and themes associated with international solidarity by means of exhibitions, debates, meetings and other events. The Centre offers space and support for cultural proposals organised by third parties, as well as creating its own.
TCIC training values the active role of the participants. The type and subject matter of the training courses are established beginning from the needs that the participants / they express, and their contribution is fundamental in determining the contents that are produced in the classroom as well as the end result.
The network of organisations and people active in international solidarity has its own hoard of experience, abilities and knowledge. Facilitating meetings and dialogue between the holders of this patrimony is an effective way in which to enable reciprocal enrichment.
The particular characteristics of the local community constitute an invaluable resource for co-operation and a basis on which to found the activity. This means looking at one’s own territory in order to identify its areas of excellence, its good practises that may serve as example and the institutions to be made into lead-players in the field of international solidarity. Uniting these elements in a profitable manner and making the fruits available to those who engage in solidarity is an important step towards co-operation between communities.