Livio Ciappetta is a teacher of CFCP Castelfusano and Romano (Rome, Italy). He accompanied a group of students during the first and the second mobility  (Seville 2018 and Madrid 2019).

I am  on the tram that crosses the center of Seville, more or less at nine in the morning. From the window I see one of my boys, Valerio, with his starbuck’s coffee earphones and cappuccino in his hand, walking at a fast pace in the opposite direction to mine. He is going to work, he enters at 10.30 am, but not yet having much confidence with public transport he goes on foot. He must arrive on time, the rules require it, but above all he is the one who cares, and so he moves very early. I am tempted to call him, to explain to him what means to take to get to work faster, but I do not. Autonomy and responsibility are two of the main objectives of this project, and if he can manage on his own is certainly a good result. Even if, for the moment, the price to pay is a long walk to an unknown city. A city, after all, very similar to ours for many reasons, welcoming and well organized, but still unknown, where a different language is spoken.

Augusto works at the market in Triana, Davide in a nearby restaurant. They are lively, crowded, fun, Sevillian and tourists places animate the barrio from the early morning. The restaurants that host them are border places, where you work quickly and in tight spaces, but you work well, with friendly people. Augusto and Davide, like all the other boys, must learn quickly, with two obstacles to overcome: the language and the typical local dishes, which are the basis of the menus of these informal places. But in these years of school and internship they have already learned a little ‘craft, and immediately move nimbly in the small kitchens, take the initiative, enrich the menu with one or two typical Roman dishes, which until then were proposed by Spanish chefs horribly demolished (an example above all, the carbonara with sausages).

Beatrice is excited. Very. Her restaurant is beautiful, very beautiful. The walls of the Alcazar delimit the main room of the restaurant, which offers expensive menus to a select clientele. A little awe is inevitable. The welcome is excellent, the kitchen brigade is friendly and hard-working, but the first few days are still difficult, Beatrice can not integrate, and is about to give up. But just in the moment of greatest difficulty she pulls out her character, her determination. I accompany her in front of the restaurant, she takes a deep breath, shows her best smile and enters. And everything changes. She has found the right way to interpret a difficult situation, to overcome a difficulty without avoiding it, without giving up. She’s happy and proud of it, I’m more so than she is.

Giada, Giulia, Daniele, Valerio, Chiara… serious, punctual and efficient, they work at a good pace from day one, they are welcomed into the brigade with affection and enthusiasm, it is not difficult to imagine that they will soon receive job offers. The chef at Valerio’s restaurant is so enthusiastic about him that he says “para ser feliz tienes que tener un Valerio en tu vida!”. I take beautiful photos, genuine smiles from people who work hard but are happy to do so. They are not fake poses, they are authentic shots, and Valerio is there, in their midst.

We crossed the city far and wide, discovering its charm and mysteries, history and tradition. We left Seville for Cadiz, with its stormy castle on the Atlantic, and for Cordoba, with the wood of columns of the Mezquita. Wonder, wonder, joy, a widespread and shared sense of fullness for an experience they will never forget. They are boys and girls who, although very young, have already learned what it means to work seriously, what it means to be responsible for yourself and for the people you work with, or with whom you share a part of life. But they are still young people, with a load of grit and vitality that I can’t help but envy. The last night of my stay in Seville we spend it together, in a nice place in front of the cathedral. When it’s time to say goodbye to each other, short cut, a few quick hugs and so on, I can’t give in to the emotion in front of them, I’m still their professor. Then, in the night and the next day, with someone we exchange messages of sincere affection, shared words and emotions that could not emerge in front of the group out of modesty. But they are words that touch the heart.

If the European Union is interested in knowing whether and to what extent these projects work, because they are rightly taxpayers’ money and must be well spent, my answer is clear, without hesitation. These are extraordinary projects, which open up the world to young people, making a huge contribution to their future. And so, thanks to all those who have allowed it. And thanks again to all the boys and girls who participated, because it is thanks to them that our work takes on meaning.

Livio Ciappetta

Translated with DeepL