Lecture: “The challenge of living together in school with persons of different cultures and religions”


Friday, March 29, 2019
Prof. Pierluigi Bartolomei is the principal of the technical school Elis in Rome. It is and educational institution forming students to join the work force. Many of them come from countries outside Europe, while others are young, maladjusted youth from around Rome itself. The professor participated as a speaker at the second lecture that took place in Rome in the Chapter Hall of the Comboni Missionaries on March 28 under the heading of “The challenge of living together in school with persons of different cultures and religions: experiences and reflections.”

Prof. Bartolomei spoke of his experience and of how young people from different cultures and religions can live together. The speaker, in a lively and enthusiastic manner that captivated the listeners, told stories of youngsters, mostly of a tragic nature, and spoke of the marvel of their change and integration: maladjusted young people who retook possession of their own lives, experiences of young people coming from different religious and cultural backgrounds who turned differences into a value and a reason for mutual enrichment. Elis is a very particular school because, according to Prof. Bartolomei, what counts there is not fixed rules, but affection, understanding and love. According to him, integration consists in giving equal opportunities to everyone, offering the students the chance  to regain their dignity based on their work.

Prof. Bartolomei confessed that he was inspired by the school of Barbiana and Fr. Milani. It was a school based on the experiences of the students, personalized, where the youngster was pushed to give arguments for his ideas and reason with his own head. In his lecture, Prof. Bartolomei quoted words from a movie of a few years ago, titled “Into the Wind,” based on a true story. At the end of his life the protagonist wrote in his diary: “Happiness is authentic only when it is shared.” This is so, explained Prof. Bartolomei, because there cannot be happiness if a person’s life is trapped in a cocoon and not, instead, open to others. There cannot be any change without a meeting with significant people who open new horizons of existence.