(versione italiana: L’Italia migliore)
While the TV news talk about a country that is divided, that is not moving forward, and that it is dropping at the bottom of the OECD, I think that I, on the other hand, am lucky enough to see a different side to it. Yesterday I accompanied a group of John Cabot University students to Milan, for their first presentation of the ENACTUS project, a trial run of the national presentation to be held in Trento on June 1st.
ENACTUS is an international organization run by students, which uses entrepreneurship, to create social value. It is present in 34 countries, has 72,000 participants from 1,730 universities, and has improved the lives of more than 1.3 million people. Among the hundreds of noteworthy projects, we find Sopay Tales , a group of students who teach the art of making and selling soap to children in foster care, giving them concrete skills for when, at 18, they will have to fend for themselves. In India, the ENACTUS team has established a partnership with the Bhartiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) , to provide poor farmers with another source of income. ENACTUS Shanghai helps farmers increase their income by turning crop waste into fertilizer for mushrooms.
From 2017, ENACTUS is also present in Italy. Off to a good start with three universities, ENACTUS Italy has more than doubled within a year: 7 teams will participate in the 2018 final, with 120 students and 11 projects. These are just numbers, which do not show the thousands of hours spent devising, designing and implementing ideas that solve concrete problems, nor the enthusiasm with which these youngsters put their time and skills at the service of others. Indeed, what struck me the most throughout the day was the commitment shown by students, who went to work with great energy but also with humility and willingness to learn. Thus, once the formal presentations were over, they all stayed on to speak with the judges and to each other; the teams compete for first place in the final, but they have also shown spirit of collaboration and willingness to forge new friendships across universities.
In short, yesterday I saw the face, sometimes elusive but nonetheless real, of a better Italy. Better, because of people like Marta Bertolai, who believes so much in the project that she left a position of great responsibility at KPMG to start ENACTUS Italy. Better, because of companies like KPMG itself and many others that support the project by providing space, economic resources and above all talent. Better, because of professors like Alessandro Grasso of the University of Macerata, who accompany, support and encourage their students to give their best. And above all, it is better because of the young people who participate, who are not afraid to face problems, and who bring different skills into play; young people who, to quote the latest book by Antonella Salvatore, are perhaps a bit “stressed”, but certainly not “lying down”!