Italy: language school for foreigners in Palermo


The Italian School for Migrants at the Gonzaga Campus in Palermo helps those fleeing poverty and violence. For 15 years he has been a focal point for migrants and refugees who wish to integrate in Italy.

For 15 years, the Italian school for migrants at the Gonzaga campus in Palermo has been helping those fleeing poverty and violence.

The school is recognized by Center Astalli, the Italian face of the Jesuit Refugee Service, and is a focal point for migrants and refugees who wish to integrate, starting with the language of the host country.

“I have been in Palermo for four years and this is the first year that I have participated in this course,” said Sara, 35, who arrived in Italy from Nigeria.

“Trying to learn the Italian language is very important, especially because it gives you a better chance of finding a job. Often many problems arise precisely from the difficulty of not being able to understand each other.”

“I want to learn to write well and speak the Italian language, because my desire is to one day be able to work as a cultural mediator,” said Adish, a 24-year-old Mauritian. “By improving communication, many goals can be achieved,” he said.

Another student, a 28-year-old Brazilian named Any, recently obtained Italian citizenship. “I have always liked Italian culture a lot,” she said. “I graduated in mathematics in my country, but my desire in Italy is to specialize in sign language for deaf people.”

After the Covid, work resumes

Ten volunteers work with migrants, as well as four young people for the school-work internship. The volunteers include a seminarian, an Italian teacher in elementary school, a French teacher in college and other teachers who are now retired.

“After a period of forced break due to the pandemic, from last November we resumed all our school activities,” said Jesuit Giacomo Andreetta, coordinator of the school’s voluntary service.

“Currently there are around 40 foreigners between the ages of 12 and 40, but their numbers could increase, albeit to a limited extent due to Covid regulations. We have several cases of family reunification of people who had to start from scratch with the Italian Language. ”

Students come from different countries: Argentina, Brazil, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Latvia and Ukraine.

The school is open every afternoon from Monday to Friday and is organized in four lessons.

“We have people who need to learn basic literacy, and others who need to improve their level to work or to obtain citizenship. In May there will be the chance for some to take the external exam which certifies the B1 language level required for a residence or citizenship card, ”said Andreetta.

A pillar of the Gonzaga campus

“The Italian school at Centro Astalli is one of the pillars of Gonzaga,” said Father Vitangelo Denora, director general of the Gonzaga campus. “The experience of the school for foreigners, which has been taking place on campus for many years now, is essential for us. It is not about hospitality, but rather a meaningful element that is an integral part of our educational program.

Denora explains that there are three schools in Gonzaga: the Italian school, the international school and the school for migrants, which “all share the values ​​of hospitality, inclusion and social integration”.

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