GENERAL COUNCIL OF ITALIANS ABROAD SECOND MEETING FOR THE REPRESENTATIVES OF YOUTH THEMES IN MEXICO, CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN MEXICO CITY, June 22ND , 2008 Representative for Mexico: Barbara Origlio Representative for Costa Rica: Giorgio Bolzoni Representative for Guatemala: Giovanni Gandolfo The following were also present: Marina pazzi, area conselor for CGIE Dr. Guido De Marco in charge of the consular chancellery of the Italian Embassy in Mexico Elvis De Biasi area representative in the meetings held in Rome in 2006 and 2007 Giancarlo Mortola, young Italian descendant coming from Guadalajara (Mexico) Marco De Maria, young Italian descendant resident in Mexico City The representative for the Dominican Republic, not signaled by the local Comites, was absent. FINAL DOCUMENT The present document summarizes the contents of the meeting which took place in Mexico City between the representatives of the countries of the area attended. These contents want to represent a development of the themes presented during last January’s meeting which are found in that final document, drafted in that occasion. The current document represents a further step forward toward a full and broad collaboration among Young Italians and young Italian descendants in the world and in Italy. All the people present contributed to the discussions, respecting the autonomy that was given to them. The document is presented in three parts: I. Current Situation of the Countries of this Area II. Issues III. Proposals I. Current Situation of the Countries of This Area A step forward, in comparison to the previous meeting, was taken in the sense that, finally, a serious debate, regarding topics tied to young people and tied to new Italian generations in the world, went on, discussing various points of views. What appeared from the discussion was that there is still a certain difficulty in uniting young people and new generations. The reasons for this disaffection must be specifically analyzed in order to be understood; however, there seems to be a certain distance between young people and the traditional feeling of association, because these young people do not seem able to convey their requests or needs. Thus making it difficult to elaborate proposals that intend to meet the needs of these young people and of new generations of Italians in our areas. - Guatemala Compared to the situation that was reported last January, an improvement on the unification level has generated, and therefore there is an improvement of reciprocal knowledge of young people, especially with the help of sport and social activities. There has been movement outside of traditional associations due to a certain difficulty in being accepted as an autonomous subject carrier of specific interests by existing institutions. The organization of a football tournament, where various representatives of various countries were involved, offered a group of young people the possibility to get involved and to form an Italian team. This event stood out thanks to the collaboration of Italian language magazines and, for that moment, the event became a point of referral for young people. Up until today, a group of about fifteen young people, united by a common interest: sports, has formed. Our goal remains that of uniting them with other objectives as well with a particular interest towards the participation of young people in forming the new local Comites that, for the first time, can be elected instead of nominated. There appears to be the general need of Italian language, which is difficult to satisfy in loco for, both, lack of educational offer and a tendency, on the parents’ part, to lose the use of the Italian language because, once they are in this country, they speak Spanish also at home. To help solve this situation, the Italian Culture Institute and the local Dante Alighieri committee, on Comites’s request, offer scholarships to young Italians who are interested in studying our language. - Costa Rica In Costa Rica, the entrance flow of Italians seems to continue. However, these Italians do not usually look for a contact or, even less, involvement in community life. Therefore, it is difficult to identify and unite young Italians and young Italian descendants. Here, there is also a scarce use of Italian language among young Italian descendants, with a scarce offer of Italian language courses. - Mexico Mexico is characterized by a strong presence of young Italians who have recently migrated here. This group of immigrants is characterized mainly by entrepreneurs and cultural operators. There are also many descendants of second or third generation, like other historical communities, who are heirs of the first Italian immigrants. In Mexico, like the other countries of the area, there are the same problems of unification. Therefore, there is the same impossibility to express a specific analysis regarding new generations of young people and to formulate proposals that meet their needs. In Mexico it is difficult to reach the various communities spread throughout the countries both physically and throughout informative channels on hand, due to the country’s dimensions. Also, we must underline that the official figures of Italians who effectively reside in Mexico seem to be far from the real estimates because AIRE registrations and contacts with Italians institutions are still not a common practice. This fundamental deficiency of information, regarding the presence of Italians in the country, obviously makes the circulation of information and getting people involved in activities of the community, which step out of the classic circuits of unification (Italian schools, especially Comites), more complicated. Initiatives on the entrepreneurial and cultural field have been registered on behalf of institutions and traditional associations and also on behalf of new subjects born in loco. Among the descendants a loss of the Italian language has been registered. The offer of Italian courses is abundant in the capital city and in other major cities; the presence of mother tongue teachers is remarkable but there is the need of an adequate teacher training. Outside the major urban centres the offer of Italian courses drastically decreases. During the months following the first meeting, we have tried to expand the network among young people as much as possible, especially with the help of technological channels (bulletins, information diffused with mailing lists etc.), news papers and magazines. Moreover, we have tried to get as many young people as possible involved in creating a specific commission within the local Comites. II. Issues The general debate led to the identification of some main issues regarding some topics taken into consideration. - Language/ Identity The loss of the Italian language is far from being a problem that concerns only Italian descendants; it is an issue that should also worry Italians who have recently migrated to these countries. The need to integrate oneself quickly in the society that is hosting them entails a high risk, even for people born in Italy, of weakening their mother tongue, at least from a fluent form that does not contain interferences. Children born abroad are the first “victims” who are not aware of this situation because they can also lose all the cultural richness that language transmits. Therefore, language should be considered a channel of cultural identity, to take in and produce a new culture, in a dynamic dimension which is not only passive or tied to keeping customs that are often no longer in use in Italy. - Young people and forming associations Traditional associations in general do not seem able to attract young people and get them involved. They have not been able, up until today, to offer these people a valid and decisive space where they can express themselves. The world of associations may need to be reconsidered so it can coexist with new forms of unification that will be able to meet the needs of a rapidly evolving community of immigrants and descendants. - Institutions There seems to be a lack of awareness, on behalf of young people, regarding institutions that represent them as Italians abroad. The perception they have is that of organizations they can turn to, solely when they must request a passport or when they can take advantage of their condition of Italian descendants. The existence of institutions such as CGIE or Comites, their functions and their prerogatives are almost completely disregarded. Even on this topic, the debate focused on the role of current institutions and their relationship with their community, underlining the constant turmoil that result in the creation of new forms of community questioning the values and functions of these institutions and, at the same time, creating alternative spaces, and other forms of dialogues between citizens and other institutions that concentrate more on an active participation directed to solving problems and needs “from the inside.” - Multiculturalism The second principle is reconfirmed, according to which, away from all stereotypes, everyone has the right to show their Italian identity, respecting the differences that derive from their various migrating experiences. The countries that host us exercise a remarkable cultural influence on us that is also carried out by salvaging our characteristics and this activity can create a “new culture” that, like the one produced in Italy, can claim its dignity and compete with the general progress of the peninsula. - Diffusion Expanding the diffusion of information and initiatives, entering and leaving our countries, to and from Italy, is necessary, knocking down boundaries of mentality that keep young Italians who live in Italy well away from their compatriots who live abroad. The problem of the distance does not concern only the descendants, but also Italians of recent immigration who risk being excluded from cultural “updates”. We spoke about strengthening already existing media and the possibility if creating new ones. New technologies, evidently, represent the most efficient means to reach as many people as possible in the least time possible, but the printed press should not be penalized for this reason, especially in those areas where not everyone has easy access to these forms of technology. A greater spread of news and information may be able to give us the necessary occasions to meet, that are often limited to celebrations that are more or less official. IV. Proposals The proposals we expressed here are directed to giving solutions to some of the problems that appeared during the debate. - Due to the almost non-existent knowledge of the world of young people and of the new generations in our countries, we consider an explorative investigation on these topics necessary. This investigation should follow scientific criteria and its results should be handled by competent staff. An analysis of the situation and concrete proposals can be formed only with a clear picture of our realities. Good results of this investigation require synergy of various the competences of the Italian communities in the area in order to extend the initiative as much as possible. - The problem of the loss of the Italian language should be faced calculating interventions, that should already start, also within the family getting the parents involved in socializing their children guaranteeing, both parents and children, a constant and open dialogue with their identity. - In order not to multiply existing media, we have decided to incorporate the “Window Inform- Young People” in the blog for the Guatemala youth Group that is in the process of construction. This to enhance an already existing media. - For the same reason, the use of facebook page of the Guatemalan representative, Giovanni Gandolofo, will be extended. The objective here is to create a means of information and of diffusion of initiatives tied to the world of young Italians in our area and abroad. This page should also be considered a virtual place where one can share realities and experiences; a “modeled’ place by the users who will be able to add any type of contribution, audio, video, written, on this page. - In anticipation of the Conference of Young Italians in the World, it seems opportune to suggest that CGIE organize a national meeting to be held in the various countries by October, at the latest, in order to give visibility to the initiative we are bringing forth, along with CGIE, and to stimulate more involvement on behalf of other young people in other communal activities that may occur in the future. A more intense national meeting may give the base for the creation of a more open and transparent dynamic of participation, throughout which we hope to establish democratic methods of delegates’ nominations that will perform more representative functions in the future. Said meeting (or similar decentralized meetings) should occur whether the Conference takes place or not because there is a need to create ties among young people that now do not exist. - These meetings are especially important to focus on common themes of Italian descendants of first, second ect generation and those of recently immigrated Italians. - Due to the large number of compatriots who, once they are abroad, dedicate themselves to a profession for which they have not been professionally trained, there is the need to provide the possibility to promote, in loco, (the management should also be in loco) coursed addressed to professional re-qualification. These courses will also, obviously, be to the advantage of Italian descendants. - There seems to be the need of other unification forms that are alternative to traditional ones, even in the communication field, like in sports and in schools, which are important considering the age, but that are on the outside of conventional schemes that transmit Italian culture. The importance of means of communication to diffuse Italian identity among compatriots, and not only, pushes us to consider the possibility of creating an Italian radio station (or programmes in Italian in existing radio stations) with the help of specific funding to identify among public and private institutions.