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An interview with Terre di Mezzo’s Sabina Eleonori

 Terre di Mezzo (Italy) 08 February 2019

Sabina Eleonori is Italian street paper Terre di Mezzo’s Editore consultant and she is working in the Terre Eventi staff. In the past she collaborated on a lot of intercultural projects, such as “Intermundia” (Rome) and “Indies” (Inclusion and Diversity in Education), which is promoted by the British Council. Currently she is the manager of the cultural and educational projects of the sustainable economy annual fair Fa’ la Cosa Giusta! (Milan) and of a Terre di Mezzo “Workshop of creative writing for children”. (880 Words) - By Eleonora Terrile


Petali Rossi: On November 21st the "Workshop of creative writing for children" was opened at the "Casa del Sole" in the Trotter Park, in Milan. What kind of project is this?

Sabina Eleonori: The project is aimed to spread the passion for creative writing and reading, especially to the children and adolescents between 8 and 14 years of age. It is a free service thanks to the collaboration of language and communication professionals available to be involved and to share their experience with the young people. It is a social project, because it works in a district that is the symbol of the change of the multi-cultural city of Milan, the Padova Street area. And it is an experience we want to become a "best practice". It is starting in a particular area, but it can become a model for many different Italian contexts. In short, it is a project aimed at promoting social cohesion, because it seeks to promote the relational capacity and the encounter between cultures, genders and generations.


PR: How did this idea originate?

SE: The idea comes from the "826 Valencia" project, opened in 2002 in San Francisco by the writer Dave Eggers and the educator Nìnive Calegari. Their assumption was that working with children and young people on developing the writing skills and talents means to guarantee them the right to express to the best of their potential and to ensure good results in learning at school. The formula was based on the alchemy created by mixing creative writing, children and volunteer tutors. It was replicated in seven U.S. cities and in Dublin. Therefore our workshop is guided by a project successfully tested at international level.


PR:Where will the project take place?

SE: The project will take place in the Trotter Park, which is located in the multiethnic district of Padova Street, an area with a wide range of immigrant communities: 16% of the resident population consists of foreigners over 10 different nationalities. The park is an important green area of Milan. Here there is the "Casa del Sole" school attended by 900 children, and half of them are not Italian. The school is surrounded by the nature and it can count on many structures those enable educational strategies and mix learning with fun: the discoveries room, the farm, the botanical garden, the butterfly space, the auditorium, the theatre. Trotter Park and Padova Street are places where the difficulties between its residents create something positive and the "conflict of civilizations" becomes "an encounter between citizens."


PR: Is the project's target limited to the children aged between 8 and 14?

SE: Children aged 8 to 14 years are the first target audience. They are primary and secondary school's students, so they are developing the attitudes to write and to socialize. The reason why of this choice is the desire to work with the schools, because they face certain situations before other types of institutions. Lombardy, in particular, has the highest amount of "foreign" children (almost a quarter of the national total) and this number is constantly growing. A very significant number is represented by "second generation children", the children of immigrants, born and/or grew up here, but destined to ask for "an Italian residence permit" when they will be 18 years old. In the first year of the project we will involve the students who are attending the "Casa del Sole" primary school. They will have the opportunity to attend a writing workshop in the environment they know and where they are doing a lot of other activities. Sometimes there will be events and workshops designed for the older ones, young people and adults. At the end the school will become a socialization and training centre, open to everyone.


PR: How will be the project organized?

SE: The project will be organized along an integrated approach. In the morning we will work with the primary school children and in the afternoon with the secondary school children. Once a week, in the afternoon, children aged between 12 to 18 years will have the possibility to attend the "Writers Club". Sometimes in the evening and during the weekend we will organize workshops for adults.


PR: Do the volunteers have to have special skills?

SE: The volunteers will be writers, editors, designers, but also other professional people like everyone who is working in media agencies, television, radio and new media. Equally important will be the contribution of those working in training and education, particularly in teaching Italian as a second language. A very important volunteers' group will be set up by students, academics, graduate students and retired former teachers.


PR: Who is involved in the project?

SE: Insieme nelle Terre di mezzo onlus association, Amici del Parco Trotter, Casa del Sole school, Celim, Lettera27, Comin.

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