ROMA – “Disaporas are the ideal bridge to link Italy with Africa. In this day and age in which there are multiple identities, they are fundamental in enhancing all the potential in relations with this continent of young people”. This is according to Raffaele Marchetti, Deputy Rector for Internationalization at Luiss University, interviewed by Dire Press Agency.
Thus the webinar series of online monthly meetings and debates which starts today, which is aimed at international students, is a real opportunity.
They are organized by the Luiss Guido Carli University in joint collaboration with talented students and representatives from the original foreign communities. The series opened today with “Diaspora, knowledge and community” and will continue with a range of topics from global reach to issues which specifically concern Africa and her relations with Europe and Italy.
This introductory comment made by Marchetti, who is full professor of International Relations in the department of Political Sciences and at the School of Government, stresses the point that cosmopolitan education is part of the Luiss University’s mission.
He continued: ”While we are going along this path we are seizing every opportunity to make invitations to attendees and guest speakers such as managers and intellectuals from Morocco to Ghana and New York. They all come from various backgrounds and ethnic origins, such as Ilham Kadri, Franco-maroccan CEO of the Solvay Group, and the American author of Indian origins Nilanjana Sudeshna ‘Jhumpa’ Lahiri. Interaction with the diasporas arises from the awareness that our identities are multiple: it is the acknowledgement that communication was previously missing until now and must exist from now on”.
This gap, however, can be bridged through web meetings and by preparing new openings and scenarios in the post-pandemic era. “We need to bring a little of Luiss to the diasporas and a little of the diasporas to Luiss” the Deputy Rector said.“ I am not only thinking about the students but also about the African lecturers; we need to focus on a program of socialization and exchange which is reciprocal”.
The key words are “cooperation” and the “sharing of knowledge”, values which are essential to affirm the university’s status as a centre of excellence and inspiration in a global world. Marchetti pointed out: “We are considering a network both with high schools and universities and also with companies, both Italian ones which operate in Africa and African ones which are able to play a partnership role with Italy”.
In the last few years Luiss Guido Carli has seen a substantial increase in the number of international students both from the Mediterranean and sub-Saharan areas. Apart from traditional recruitment, from Ghana to Kenya, several study bursaries have been guaranteed by Italian companies which operate in Africa, such as Eni, and designated for other humanitarian projects organized together with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), currently based in Jordan but shortly to move to Morocco, and financed by the University Community of “Alumni”.
The outlook for the post-pandemic world is optimistic with a full swing recovery in educational exchanges and study abroad. “We want to guarantee our offer to African students who are looking for tertiary education”, said Marchetti, “and at the same time make sure that Italian students enrolled in the faculties of Social Sciences, Economy or Law can get to know Africa better”.
According to the professor, webinars on topics such as digital innovation and ecological transition, geopolitical prospects or business relations between Italy and Africa are steps along the right road and should be strongly encouraged. Marchetti pointed this out by saying: “We must use all the channels at our disposal in order to build up relations, bearing in mind that development signifies also development of knowledge”, and further stressed “this is the University’s role”.