At a time like the present, where migrations redefine the traditional arrangements on which living in society is based, fostering encounters between “us” and those who are “others” is an indispensable prerequisite for building a society that wants to define itself as inclusive, supportive and open to encountering others. What is young people’s perception of the migration phenomenon?

The young people we intercept through our proposals are, normally, people who are curious and open to the encounter with diversity, and have a desire to get involved. Sometimes, interacting with contexts and people from very different cultural and religious backgrounds, we also encounter prejudices, closures and fears, which, if faced together, become opportunities for growth through confrontation and exchange of perspectives.

Young people, for the most part, perceive migration as an opportunity capable of generating life, germinating hope, connecting hybrid identities and fostering a culture of encounter beyond the cracks of humanity.

They also touch on the dramatic aspect of forced migration and the fatigue that those who leave experience in finding themselves lost and away from home.

What is the commitment of Scalabrinians in bringing young people closer to understanding the phenomenon of human mobility and, in particular, the phenomenon of immigration in Italy very often instrumentalized and subject to a negative narrative?

We strive to shorten the distances between ‘us’ and ‘them,’ including through appropriate terminology, to create welcoming and inclusive spaces that foster the exchange of experiences, service and training on migration issues.

What we ideate are experiential proposals to accompany young people on a path of ‘becoming attached’ to the Scalabrinian charism to the point of spending themselves concretely with migrant people in their communities and contexts of belonging. The service and sharing camps, winter and summer, are steps in the young person’s life towards consistent and conscious goals of commitment, inspired by the Charism and the Gospel.

I dare say it is a sowing with confidence and generosity, initiating and accompanying processes. All this contributes to changing the narrative about the migration phenomenon, changing narrators.

What are the tools and language to be used to engage young people?

Through training courses, service and sharing camps, workshops and evenings, and social media we try to convey a way of life based on fraternity and the ability to deconstruct walls and build bridges of dialogue. We wish to contribute to the formation of an active and responsible citizenship for oneself and, at the same time, dedicated to caring for others through bonds of fraternity. Accompanying young people to engage in social justice alongside migrant people is the present tension in the background of our proposals. We are convinced that it is not enough to know, it is necessary to implement the great ideals, even in their partiality.

Through our intervention in the youth field, we are helping to generate a civil society and a Church that is more open and attentive to the typical dynamics of human mobility.

In view of the summer, we have designed three different types of activities.

The first core, composed of three camps, is developed at the borders of Europe, in the places of great crossings: Oulx, Ventimiglia and Trieste.

The second in the contexts of labor exploitation of migrant people in Italy: Cuneo, Foggia and in Agro Pontino.

The last core is that of “remix identities” with the focus on the so-called “second generations” and is carried out in Naples and Cosenza.

The proposals are designed by us, in close synergy with local churches and those who engage with migrant people in the relevant contexts.

Jonas Donassollo

Born in Brazil, raised between Italy and South Africa, he coordinates activities with youth for Scalabrinians in Europe within the planning of the Scalabrinian Agency for Development Cooperation (ASCS onlus). After philosophical and theological studies, he is currently attending a Master’s degree in Political and Social Sciences at the University of Milan with the focus on migration processes. He is passionate about mountains and forests, has five siblings and six grandchildren. He rides his bike all the time and has decided to commit himself to a greener, fairer world with fewer walls.