The collaboration between the Pesenti Foundation and the Intercultura Association was born and developed during the 2009/2010 school year and over the years has been enriched both in terms of quantity and quality of the awards, for a total of over 40 scholarships to Italian students abroad and foreign students in Italy.
An educational initiative aimed at moving beyond material and immaterial borders and breaking down social and intellectual barriers for the creation of a generation of “intercultural natives”.
For the 2019/2020 the Pesenti Foundation once again will offer 15-17-year-old students the opportunity to study abroad, attending public school, through the awarding of 2 “Year in USA” program scholarships and 1 “Year in Germany” program scholarship. The merit-based grants will be awarded to three deserving students, residing in the Bergamo area.
Read about the Pesenti Foundation & Intercultura winners who are currently abroad below.
- Vittoria Cornolti from Bergamo to Oeversee (Schleswig-Flensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany)
- Noemi Guadagni from Lovere-Boario to Cleveland Heights, OH (USA)
- Sara Rota Conti from Bergamo to Groveland, FL (USA)
Vittoria, Noemi and Sara left last August for one-year study abroad program. As every year, the Pesenti Foundation and Intercultura invite students to recount their experience through quarterly reports based on 7 predefined questions:
- Relationships with the host family
- Relations with the host community and friends
- Inclusion and academic achievement with respect to performance and interactions with teachers and peers
- Three beautiful things I will never forget
- Three nasty things I will never forget
As months go by it’s interesting to observe how they change their answers, from very concise to more and more descriptive, how they change their approach, from suspicious to trusting, but above all how they change themselves: we see them leave full of enthusiasm, that hyperbolic enthusiasm which is so much a part of teens’ life; during the first three months they look like lost puppies wondering around; in the following six months they build more and more confidence and lastly return to Italy like new superheroes ready to conquer the world.
The beautiful thing about this adventure, however, is that the growth these students experience is not only cultural, but also intellectual, and it is not only theirs but ours too. Students return from abroad with a story to tell. A story of things and people, which is different either from the one we could tell now as adults or from the one we could have told in our teens. It is not just a matter of unfamiliar stories and traditions, strange customs, desires and expectations that are far from ours. It is their reading of them that is different from ours: a beautiful lesson of enthusiasm and openness not yet affected by toughness and rigidity.
They are only 17 years old but say things like these: “At the very beginning it’s not easy. You enter the life of people that open up their doors to you, but you do not know each other that well already… it’s not easy at all. But, once you start opening up to them, they start opening up as well. And this is such a beautiful gift,” or “If you get caught in a problem or something ,you have to tackle it all by yourself. You cannot call your parents for help, they live thousands of miles away and might worry… at the beginning it will be difficult of course, but this kind of things will help you a lot when you grow up,” or again “It’s not a host family anymore, it’s my family. I really feel great. We have little discussions here and there, but this happens in any family. Debating is always a healthy thing.”
The Intercultura Foundation Onlus
The Intercultura Foundation for Intercultural Dialogue and International Youth Exchanges was established on May 12, 2007 in Colle di Val d’Elsa (SI) by the Intercultura Association, which has been working for more than 60 years in the international youth exchanges sector.
Secretary General Roberto Ruffino explains the reasons: “Why did we create a foundation 10 years ago? Because that range of activities that we had started since the early 1970s, opening to schools, worrying about the educational content of our programs, collaborating with external institutions, has grown enormously over the years, transforming from an internal need of our association to the need of the Italian and European society. Today, everyone in Europe is talking about intercultural education, international exchanges, creating a mentality for European citizens; what was our problem, our concern, has become a general concern of society and the Foundation works precisely with the aim of contributing to a culture of dialogue and intercultural exchange among young people and to develop researches, programs and structures that help new generations to open up to the world and to live as conscious and prepared citizens in a multicultural society.”
The Intercultura Foundation conducts research in collaboration with major Italian and foreign universities, holds conferences and produces publications in the field of intercultural education. It works to foster the internationalization of Italian schools by providing examples of good practices and training sessions on youth exchanges management (it is accredited for the training of school staff at the Ministry of Education). It offers scholarships to foster international student mobility of young people from families in need: in ten years of activity it has raised almost € 30 million which have allowed hundreds of young people to take part in study abroad programs. The Ministry of Education and Foreign Affairs adheres to the Foundation and supports its activities.
By the By-Laws: “The Intercultura Foundation for Intercultural Dialogue and International Youth Exchanges has no lucrative goals nor temporal limits, it is non-political and non-confessional. It operates in Italy and abroad with the aim of scientific research, solidarity and charity.”
The Intercultura Association
The “Intercultura” Association has been active in Italy since 1955 and each year it awards scholarships for cultural and education experience abroad, to Italian students between 16 and 18. The students participate in a series of preparatory meetings that help them evaluate the significance of their stay abroad: not only learning a new language, but also living in a different mindset and culture. In Modena, the association is composed of volunteers, who, coordinated by President Silvia Mauro, follow the students in preparing for their experience abroad. The association also hosts foreign students in some families in the province of Modena. Currently, there are five exchange students from China, Denmark, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.