Education, Work, Hope: a Venetian student explains how Venice can be his, and his generation’s future.

In order to share some of the productive results of the round table held on 19 September 2017 by VeneziaMioFuturo/VeniceMyFuture, which put together four generations of students (university and high school), artisans and residents, we publish here an extract from the speech written by Matteo, a student at Foscarini:


 

My name is Matteo, I am 16 years old, I attend the liceo classico Marco Foscarini and I live in Venice. That which for me, since I was a child, was the most magical city in the world, in which the water takes the place of automobiles and in which playing soccer in the street is a simple custom, which today is transformed under my eyes in to a sort of trap from which to flee: I have been told not to hope for a future in the land of San Marco, that it has already born all of its fruit and now has dried up: I have been told that if I don’t choose a career in high society, I’ll not be able to afford a rental in the historic city; I’ve been told to go far away, out of the city, where I will have more hopes.

It’s useless to deny it: in Venice there is a large gap between the social classes (if we can define them in this way), and only those highest on the pyramid can afford the luxury of living in the beautiful capital of the Serenissima: that which I have already come to understand is that these days, either you are the child of gondolier, a taxi driver, a hotel owner, or “you’re out”.

Meanwhile, as is well known, the exploitation of the area has reached maximum levels, and every excuse for scraping up a few cents is valid, shaking down the tourists. These last are often held to be the cause of every ill and are used as scapegoats, but I don’t think that this is correct. It is true to say that a large percentage of visitors is badly behaved and uncivil and arrive unprepared, but I believe that the larger problem is the mismanagement of this great flow, and, as is also understandable, the lack of preparation for a city that is so small to welcome such huge groups of people. If in Venice everything was not turned in favor of the affluence of tourism and its exploitation, it is logical that there would be substantially different numbers: we create hotels and low cost B&B, restaurants, souvenir shops, we grow the number of taxis, of gondolas, of large public events, and then we complain that the residents abandon the city, leaving behind a kind of large theme park. It is a paradox!

……

I think that it is possible to change a series of small things to better the lives of the residents and offer hopes to the young.

The first thing that comes to mind if I think of high schools is the so-called “alternating school-work”. The alternating of school and work, obligatory for all students in the last three years of high school, also in the licei, is one of the most important innovations of Law 107 of 2015 (The Good School) in accordance with the principle of the open school. The school should, in fact, become the most effective platform for the growth and formation of new skills, against unemployment and the mismatch between jobs sought and jobs offered in the labor market. For this, they should open to the whole area, asking of society to make students protagonists who are conscious of the choices for their future (source: http://www.istruzione.it/alternanza/cosa_alternanza.shtml). Often, and I speak from personal experience, this alternating can become a great waste of time: almost always boring and futile, it does nothing more than take away precious hours of study from the students, rather than be taken advantage of as an opportunity (or at least this happens in my school).

Something which could be done is a prearranged program of alternation at a provincial level, oriented towards the promotion and of the valuing of the area and of its traditions. This could include above all a preparatory course of instruction that explains to the young the real problems in the area which are due to tourism and the possible solutions and remedies for these questions, seeking to develop in each student their own ideas and critical faculties.

In the second place it would be very important to create a larger number (there are already some, but I do not think there are enough) of courses aimed at the promotion of activities which are typically local and traditional, such as rowing ‘alla veneta’ and its uses (which could easily be made a part of the “weekend of sport”, or even a week entirely dedicated to sport, which would include educational activities, as mandated by the regional government of Veneto during the 2016/2017 session, and could perhaps be repeated in the next years. See Regional Press Release no. 622 of 05/05/2016), the building of typical boats in the dry docks and the work that comes from this, glass working, the restoration of Venetian palazzi and of works of art, the study of the Venetian dialect, etc.

…….

I understand that this deals with delicate subjects, and that I don’t possess adequate preparation or experience to discuss them, and that the things which I have said are only the thoughts and the hopes of a simple high school student, and I ask for your pardon if at times I have fallen into banality or superficiality, or if I have made any mistakes.

I do have, however, the certainty that I want to continue to live in Venice, the most beautiful city in the world and UNESCO Heritage site, and for my future in the city I wait for big changes so that it comes to be, and does not remain only a faraway memory of the lovely Repubblica Serenissima, perhaps the last true great Western empire after the fall of that of Rome.

Venice is my future!

Matteo Canini


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