Studying between the two shores of the Mediterranean to build a bridge between cultures

Unabridged speech of Professor Emanuele

“Good evening and welcome to this great event to which, I believe, we should attach importance.

I am delighted to be here again to take stock of the first months of activity and illustrate the next stages of the ‘Mediterranean Project’ that Fondazione Mediterraneo – Diritto allo Studio Luiss Guido Carli, chaired by myself, launched last May and is earnestly carrying out.  Launched in March 2018, the project is basically intended for eighteen students from Jordan, Syria, Palestine and Malta including a group of refugee youths under international protection.

Entering into further detail, the project enables a group of Maltese and Jordanian students to attend an economics degree course in the LUISS campus in Rome for one year and then return home to finish their studies, whereas the Syrian and Palestinian youths under protection and resident in Amman, Jordan may attend the same course which will be held by a delegation of teachers from LUISS at the University of Petra, a partner of the project.

To be even more specific, I would like to inform you that in the academic year 2017/2018 seven refugees (5 Palestinians and 2 Syrians) attended the first year of the project in Amman, whereas this year (2018/21019) ten Jordanian students will attended the second semester courses (having taking the exams in the December-February term) at the LUISS in Rome.  In 2019 the Mediterranean Project will affect Malta by including three Maltese students in the bachelor’s degree course in Economics and Business at the Department of Economics and Finance.

The objective of this important and ambitious project, accomplished by LUISS Guido Carli with the fundamental support of Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale, consists in delivering education rather than humanitarian aid, to a group of youths belonging to a crucial area of the Middle East who meet specific income and worthiness requirements, enabling them to gain a unique opportunity for the future, since a degree is the key to their emancipation.

In essence, this project is unique in Italy and possibly in Europe and aims to grant preferential access to youths, to whom the Foundation awards fully funded scholarships, who otherwise could not afford to invest in be their future.  Poverty prevents young people from emancipating and following their vocations.  Our Foundation’s mission is precisely to help underprivileged people in Italy and abroad and to promote high-level training courses with a strong impact in terms of development and social equality.  Consequently, I am very proud to have designed and supported Progetto Mediterraneo fulfilled by a valuable university such as LUISS, which has entered a partnership with the University of Petra, Amman.

However, I would like to dwell briefly on the genesis of this project.  As known, my interest in the Mediterranean arises from my conviction of the importance of this region which I already highlighted in 2010 through the International Conference “The Mediterranean: Gateway to the East” held in Palermo on the 13th and 14th of May, in order to focus on the chances this sea, space and subject – albeit unitary – has to become the protagonist of history again.  The Mediterranean is not just a geographical notion that refers to a particularly fortunate environment and climate, indeed it represents a relationship between three systems of civilisation, peoples, cultures, religions, experiences, ideals, inviting them to meet and trade.  The great cultures that designed the identity of Europe and North African countries were generated and developed in the Mediterranean Region and, with due respect to Europe, I believe that in the near future we should pay more and more attention to the world facing it, the Maghreb, the States of the Gulf and the Far East.   Conversely, I am sorry to admit that in recent years choices have been made in our country that have certainly not encouraged the cooperation between nations and their respective cultures for which I have done my utmost, vice versa they have contributed to separation and clashes.

The aim to operate for the socio-economic development of Mediterranean countries has always characterised my commitment and that of Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale, which I have the honour to chair.  For this purpose Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale is highly focused on carrying out several educational projects, such as the master’s degree course in Oriental Languages and Cultures, held in collaboration with the IULM University, for which we shall place 20 scholarships at the disposal of students next year in order to train professionals capable of communicating with the Arab-Muslim world and China; the Framework Agreement with the Università per Stranieri Dante Alighieri” of Reggio Calabria whereby the Foundation contributes to funding specific bachelor courses focused on the Mediterranean Region established in the Faculty of Society and the Formation of the Mediterranean Region (multidisciplinary and intercultural operators of the Mediterranean Region, Planning and management of policies and social services in the Mediterranean Region and Interpreting and Intercultural Mediation); the Framework Agreement with the Università Suor Orsola Benincasa whereby the Foundation permanently contributes to the educational actives promoted by this University and, finally, the Master’s degree course in Animation Languages and Techniques held in association with the Sapienza University of Rome, to which the Foundation has allocated ten scholarships to be assigned to needy students from all over the world (including the Mediterranean Region).

I would also like to mention that the Foundation is involved in the Aqaba-Eilat, “One more step towards Peace” project promoted by the non-profit Istituto per la Cooperazione Universitaria, which aims to foster training for the young generations through a series of exchange projects between students in Aqaba and Eilat.

However, the attention the Foundation pays to Mediterranean countries is by no means limited to educational projects.  Indeed, I must also mention the most important projects of cultural and socio-economic value accomplished over the years, such as: the contribution to the restoration of the Basilica of Saint Augustine of Hippo, in Annaba, Algeria; the Refurbishment of the areas in the Institute of Cultural Monuments (IMK) in Tirana, Albania; the performances held in the prestigious International Festival in El Jem, Tunisia; our support of the impressive irrigation project in the semi-desert areas of Nabeul, Tunisia; the construction of a football field in Jaramana, Damascus, Syria, for the local community and the Iraqi refugees; the restoration of the statue of Dante Alighieri in Valetta, Malta; the International Conference ‘Women in the New Era of the Mediterranean’ held in Valencia; our support of the international project for the preservation and restoration of the World Heritage Monuments destroyed by the iconoclastic fury of ISIS in the Middle East, promoted in association with the Associazione Incontro di Civiltà; the creation of the Cancer Research Foundation (ECRFM) in Malta; our support of the publication of two important books  ‘Incontri con La Valletta’ and ‘History of San Anton’ in Malta; the ‘Open Hospitals’ project in Damascus, Syria and our constant presence in Spain and in prospect in Greece too.

In order to rapidly meet the aforementioned goals, Fondazione Terzo Pilastro – Internazionale opened upon establishment various representative offices in places of interest (Catania and Palermo in Sicily; Cosenza and Reggio Calabria in Calabria; Naples in Campania; Rabat in North Africa; Madrid in Spain and lastly in Malta).

In keeping with the aforementioned activity, the “Mediterranean Project” intends to face the great challenge of strengthening Euro-Mediterranean political and economic cooperation through a common educational path focused on dialogue and cooperation at the highest levels of training and research as well as to encourage meetings between economic operators, institutions and representatives of Universities in order to create a ruling class aware of the opportunities arising from a greater interaction between the economic, social, cultural and political world of this large region (Europe, Mediterranean and  Eurasia) an undertaking that the Foundation I chair wishes to continue to constantly trigger and lead.”.