January 28, 2023

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Towards the Diaspora Forum, a space for permanent dialogue on cooperation


Safe way For five years, representatives of foreign communities have been confronted with the world of cooperation on issues that are the focus of national and international debate. The younger generations play an essential role. Here’s the fourth episode of our roundup, in collaboration with Acri

Rome – since 2017 with National Diaspora Summit A path of dialogue has been initiated between associations and communities of immigrants in Italy, institutions, companies and the non-profit sector, which has led to the establishment of a cultural, social and economic bridge between Italy and the countries of origin of resident immigrants. It is an important procedure for establishing stable and lasting relations with the countries of origin of immigrants residing in Italy, which is now going through its own evolutionary phase, which will soon lead to the birth of National Diaspora Forum It consists of diaspora associations that deal with development cooperation. Central to all this is the contribution of new generations (often these are young people born and raised here, but not recognized as Italians). We talked about it with Ada Ugo AparaConsultant and expert in international cooperation.

Ada Ugo Apara's photo.

Ada Ugo Apara’s photo.

What are the characteristics of the diaspora in Italy today?
Compared to the 1970s and 1980s, when there were the first migration flows, the foreign communities in Italy today have very different characteristics. We are no longer talking about the diaspora made up of heads of families, or at any rate one person who left to keep the family at a distance and accumulated a fortune in Italy and then returned home or waited for the rest to be reunited. from the family. We are now talking about people and families who settled in Italy decades ago, people who have chosen Italy as a place to call home, a space to build a future for themselves or their children. We are now in the third and fourth generation of Italians with a foreign background.

The numbers say so, too. Our country’s population of 5.1 million foreigners is mostly made up of families whose children were born and/or raised here, but in most cases are not recognized citizens.
This is why we are so persistent in proposing citizenship reform: estimates tell us that about a million people have access to ius alone tempered or allo jus culturae. With the recent reform proposal ending at the end of the legislature, more than 800,000 children and young people currently studying in Italian schools can apply for Italian citizenship. Therefore, it is an important segment of those foreign populations who have settled in our country. Young people born or raised in Italy are waiting to become recognized citizens like everyone else. Also in this case, compared to the past, there is a generational gap: while our parents felt like guests in Italy because they had another country of reference, we children do not feel like guests at all, but part of the citizens. We live here, we feel here, we study here. What leads to the creation of citizens is the scholastic path, in which one is trained.

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tBetween 2017 and 2020, the National Diaspora Summit started its journey. What are the main points that emerged during these years?
The Summit represented an important first step in achieving the greatest possible concreteness enshrined in Law 125 of 2014 reforming the Italian system of international cooperation. The project stems from the desire of the Italian Cooperation to make diaspora organizations champions of cooperation, together with other civil society organizations and to create structured channels of dialogue with them. The path of the summit is long and continues today with the project.Craft the future! Towards a Diaspora Forum in ItalyAs of 2017, empowerment and capacity-building courses have been created targeting associations that express the diaspora in Italy and that collaborate in their statute or wish to work in this area. The project has stimulated dialogue paths with the third sector and facilitated the creation of local networks and partnerships: we have been able to Local meetings from observing how the composition of these associations has also changed over the years: they are no longer just organizations on a national and mutual basis but the work relates to different geographical areas and not necessarily the country of origin, open to the goals of sustainable development and the priorities of Italian cooperation.The organizations have great internal skills.especially generations The new ones, they demand full participation, but it is often difficult.An example of this is precisely that of citizenship: how can we be represented in 360 degrees What if we are not recognized as citizens and we cannot even participate in competitions for employment in the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation?There are many Among the shortcomings that must be filled, but we are fighting: the demand is effective social inclusion and recognition of our presence in society. We also need a change in the narrative regarding migration. In Italy, A different, alternative process story doesn’t get space in the media, and so there are stories that never come out. Even those of us who work in this sector are surprised to meet associations that have decades of experience and enormous projects that have been implemented in their lands, in Italy; How does the wider public relate to these experiences if they are not recounted by the media?

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When speaking of storytelling, Let’s Help Them Home is suggested as a “recipe”.
This phrase has gained a polarizing dimension in fiction. Even when the meaning is reversed, the first meaning, the negative meaning, remains in the listener’s mind. It is necessary to overcome narrative blocks and focus on building initiatives from the bottom up, starting from the areas we are dealing with. Every collaborative initiative must include reference communities or else we’re talking about top-down actions that don’t really take root. Cooperation priorities often relate to the country’s foreign policy but are not aligned with what the population feels is a priority. It is therefore important to involve the citizens who come from those regions because they have the necessary interpretive tools to allow collaboration initiatives to be more appropriate and respond to the effective needs of places and people. There are people trained in these issues here in Italy who, thanks to their background, also have cultural and linguistic skills that allow them to present a unique point of view and to become ambassadors of Italy in the countries of intervention and ambassadors of the country in Italy. The regional and linguistic link is essential and adds to a series of substantive elements that allow local communities to understand the initiatives.

In July 2022, “Forging the Future – Towards a National Forum for Expatriates in Italy” was launched, promoted by Aics, Oim and Le Reseau Association, also in collaboration with Cespi. What kind of path are you on and what is the goal?
Yes, the conference in July launched a new course. After the preparation phase, a series of initiatives are now being implemented in regions and online exchanges. We start from the results of previous years and introduce new incentives from time to time. We work alongside the diaspora communities in Italy, North and South, through advice, technical assistance and training modules. This will lead next year, starting next spring, to the creation of the first national forum for expatriates: we want it to be an expression of the different communities involved in international cooperation. The Forum will be a permanent space for dialogue with Italian cooperation and local, regional, national and international stakeholders.

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Safe way It is a ten-episode report created and published by Redattore Sociale in association with Acri. The journalistic work, edited by Eleonora Camelli with graphic support from Diego Marsicano and supervision by Stefano Carrida, deals with the topic of migration from different perspectives, recounting some of the experiences supported by Acri in immigrant project.