Luoghi Comuni: the past and present of a project that is on the move

During the course of 2013, the project Luoghi Comuni/little migrating stories inspired laboratories on migrations that were devised and carried out in secondary schools by two of the associations that in recent years took part in the project, Modena per gli altri and PPA – Parma per gli altri which were involved in the Modena (2010) and Parma (2012) legs respectively. These projects demonstrate how Luoghi Comuni triggers processes of active involvement within people and entities, leading to the experimentation of new forms of telling stories and getting to know others that grow and take on independent forms even after the completion of each leg.

Modena per gli altri produced a collective video called Io sono qui perché, that was inspired by Sono qui perché. Luoghi Comuni, la parola ai ragazzi(This is why I’m here: kids have their say), one of the Luoghi Comuni formats, that was used in the primary and secondary school of the State Comprehensive Institute in Vimodrone, during the 2009-11 school years.

The collective video Io sono qui perché was instead created in 2013, from a laboratory within the Fermo Corni Professional Institute in Modena, that was organised by the associations Modena per gli altri (Moxa) and Voice off, in collaboration with lettera27, and produced thanks to the “Bando di Idee” (Call for Ideas) of the Centro per il Servizio al Volontariato (CVS) (Centre for Voluntary Work Services) of Modena. The participants, who were coordinated by volunteers of the two associations, firstly had a group session during which they recounted their own stories, and subsequently they interviewed each other.

“This methodology proved to be an effective educational and relational process– explained the volunteers of Modena per gli altri – that succeeded in creating opportunities for discussion that produced unexpected results, like the discovery of being united by a common nostalgia for somewhere else – wherever that may be for each person – in which everyone left a part of themselves.”

Io Sono Qui Perché is a journey around the world, made from the stories told by the voices of a number of adolescents from South America, North Africa, Eastern Europe or other Italian regions, like Campania, Apulia and Sicily. All of them are now in Modena for a variety of different reasons, in the same way that every day thousands of men and women to leave their homes to embark on a life elsewhere. The video has been submitted toModena Mosaico multiculturale, an annual competition that awards the best multimedia projects created by young people between the age of 15 and 29 on the issue of coexistence between cultures.

The second experience is the one organised by Parma per gli altri, which involved two classes of a scientific lyceum and one class of a vocational school. The volunteers decided to tell the students of some secondary schools about the Luoghi Comuni project and described the leg they had organised through an interactive presentation, which encouraged an active involvement by the students and a co-construction of knowledge. The presentation thus became a small laboratory, during which the new narrations from the students taking part were stimulated by hearing stories by their fellow students – the small migrant stories of the countryside. In this way the students developed different ways of thinking about their own stories, stories from other people as well as the processes that stemmed from the meeting, i.e. identification and mirroring.

“We realised that the sentences referred by the students related almost exclusively to personal experiences or considerations which, starting from the little migrant stories, describe their daily context. – explained the volunteers  – We think that this tendency essentially reflects the cognitive processes of their phase of development (adolescence), which are typically experiential. We do not believe that this represents a limitation, as it may instead offer a powerful instrument for constructing interculturality and identity plurality. Seeing yourself in someone else’s story and expressing a little about yourself is a mechanism of commonality that can clearly be perceived from some of the students’ comments, such as: “I was struck because this also happened to me. When you change country everything changes”; “I like this sentence because it is very true   and very often I think it too”; “I also noticed that, in our country people are very distrustful.

Both the Modena and Parma projects brought the narration of small stories into schools, using the themes and methods from the original project to generate others, in an environment which perhaps more than any other allows the development of new forms of active citizenship. “Schools are, perhaps to a greater degree than any other environment, ‘common places’ within which narrations are intertwined – explains Paola Salvini of Parma per gli altri – our own experiences are narrated and, at the same time, we come to grips with the experiences of others, through others.”