Recently, a local student visited Temple Rome campus to discuss the political climate of Italy and mental health of society. Having these hard conversations opened up my mind and heart to old and new ideas.
A local known as Danilo studying political science met with us Temple students one night to discuss the political climate in Italy. There were complex questions asked, but I appreciated Danilo’s outlook and suggestions for Italy’s future. Overall, it was an interesting conversation that I haven’t had yet in Rome.
He started off strong by stating that Italy is a sexist country, which came from a fixed mindset from past generations. I had a feeling there was a strong male influence in Italy, but I didn’t realize how far they were behind America in terms of equality and female empowerment.
Today there are two newly installed female political figures, demonstrating that Italy is entering a new era; however, female figures have been undergoing challenges to break into leadership positions up until now. He said that 15 years ago was worse, which was a surprise since that is within my lifetime. Now, he mentions that it is a more virtuous time with the two female leaders, but he hopes to see more in other fields like managers of businesses, STEM, etc. I can’t imagine a world without female figures because America always promotes them and I’ve been exposed to them in my daily life. To even hear that there aren’t many females studying in STEM in university/college from Italian locals shocks me because I’m used to women studying along side men in those subjects back in California. I hope to see a shift in that as well for Italy.
Dealing with immigrant situation, political leaders did not handle situation well. Horrible words were said. We all agreed that no one should experience what refugees go through. Immigrants should be given a safe environment for relief, no doubt about it. He mentioned an important idea: “no one puts their child in a boat unless the water is safe at level” and pointed out that should be the same for all people, especially refugees. I asked Daniel if the next step should be big or small, and he definitely believed there should be a grand move such as an agreement with african governments to help people escape harsh conditions. However, it is not easy to find agreement.
There is an ongoing structure problem that prohibits people from moving up the socioeconomic ladder. It also influences the way people make decisions, live and support themselves and others. Nobody thinks for themselves anymore because we take the ideas that we were taught, but most of the time, don’t think about it critically before we act. Our mentalities are usually stuck in a certain time, are fixed, are fearful or are in survival mode, especially if you lack your physiological needs. This is why it’s important to support refugees since they cannot help themselves. The question is if we can fix this structure issue on an individual level or as a society. To be transformative, we need to have these hard conversations. This will expose people to new ideas and let them think for themselves and reflect on the past, present and future. We cannot continue doing things out of habit or from what we were taught long ago because we, the people and the world around us, are constantly changing.
We proposed the question of mental health to Danilo and he expressed that there should be an increased offer of mental care on campus. He called out the stigma against people who struggle with mental health, saying that it’s not just something diagnosed, but it could be something is not okay with you. Perhaps you’re undergoing stress. He said the solution to normalize the care of mental health, especially for students abroad. I also suggested that study abroad students should also have a newsletter available to them to help them understand the political climate before and during the program! I was clueless up until now and the semester is almost over. It was a pleasure to met Danilo and see some one as young as him be engaged politically. In a private conversation with Temple study abroad students afterwards, we noticed how we are only engaged in our hometown’s political climate, but we should also understand what’s happening in other parts of the world as well, especially if we’re living in it for a period of our lives. In the end, I believe we must be consistent, brave and go below the surface to be transformative. This will shape our leaders, no matter if you have a title. We have been letting these issues linger for too long, and results need to show at least within our lifetime.