January 9th, 2012 by Vitale, Bianca


Final evaluation

April 28th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

Final evaluation

Out of topic – The Articles from Assisi

March 23rd, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

out of topic

2nd upload (in case of need): out of topic

Prejudices about other nations and cultures – The Articles from Assisi

March 23rd, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca


2nd upload (in case of need): Prejudices

Intercultural communication: instructions

by Alessandra Ciotti (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

Following my concept of interculturality, communication should be carried out respecting some essential principles. One of them is  the awareness of  the inborn implications we find in a foreign language: a person who speaks a foreign language has also a foreign culture, foreign traditions and sometimes foreign life values. So we have to be careful in our communication with distant peoples, because a word implies certain meanings that could be misunderstood. Another aspect, which is strictly connected to the first, could be the nationality of the one we are in contact with: I think that in order to understand a language, and therefore to communicate with people who speak it, it is important to visit or live for a period in the country where this language is spoken. We cannot really assimilate those phrases if we don’t use them daily, if we don’t actually need to use them in order to live.

Intercultural communication has its rules, which we have to accept. An example of “improper use of communication” are stereotypes. Stereotypes have always harmed communication and understanding. Today in our society stereotypes are incredibly often used, above all among and on teenagers. People make use of stereotypes to talk about an indefinite mass, eliminating people’s peculiarities and turning them into a sole, obvious character. It could be true that a relevant part of  that mass reflects the label in which is described, but this homologation is unfair. Stereotypes can also be an obstacle to integration: most of them are negative or cruelly ironical, so they produce a kind of prejudice in others’ mind, a foreign person could find a wall of discrimination built with stereotypes. In my opinion stereotypes have no real meaning, they just generalize people’s similarities and damage their judgement ability.

There are lots of stereotypes on the Italians around the world, and sometimes one or two of them could  be half true. The certainly reliable ones are about coffee, football, pasta: it’s very difficult to find an Italian who doesn’t drink coffee at least once a day, who really hates football and doesn’t like pasta. These peculiarities are part of the Italian tradition, and join north and south of our peninsula. Above all concerning food and drink: as I said, pasta and obviously pizza are eaten and produced in Italy with an unmistakable brand; maybe it’s true, as strangers think, that you can find an authentic pasta or pizza only in Italy. And coffee is always present in Italians’ life, especially the “espresso”, which is usually refused abroad for its presumed undrinkable strong flavour. Then football is the national sport: TV or newspapers talk about it every day, sometimes it becomes a real mania, and the national team returns back to Italians their patriotism and spirit of unity. But various stereotypes are an old and exaggerate generalisation: for example music is an important quality of Italy, but the image of the Italians as melodramatic singers is nearly overstressed, especially because it is often supported by the icon of an idler Italian, who is noisy, lazy and doesn’t like working. Besides we can find stereotypes on Italian men, who are too fond of their mothers, keen on fashion, style and jewellery, charming and latin lovers. In foreigners’ mind Italians are also excessively worried about appearance and gossip, they must always be perfectly dressed, people don’t have to know their problems or negative situations and they hide them with pretence. These negative dispositions are largely false if we think about Italians’ generosity,  helpfulness and spirit of adaptation.

In conclusion, we have to understand that “communication” is not an easy word, even if we try to write our personal “instruction” manual for it.

Stereotypes on… us

by Lucia Tozzi (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

I live in Italy, so I don’t know exactly what people from other countries think aboyut Italians, but I do know some of our stereotypes.

- Italy is always connected with pasta and pizza, so people imagine that Italians eat these foods everyday: actually they do eat pasta almost always at lunch and dinner, because it’s part of our culinary tradition, it is one of our habits, but we eat pizza not so often as we eat pasta.

- Italians are expressive: yes, they are! Most Italians, as they’re speaking, often help words not only with face expressions but also with gestures of hands, and in an evident way. But we do it unconciously, I really can’t explain why we do so… maybe it is in our DNA!

- Italians are noisy and speak very loud: well, most of them do speak loud, in fact when you are abroad you can often recognize the Italian tourist only by hearing his voice…

- Italian people often say “mamma mia!”: yes, as the ABBA teach us, this is true: in fact Italians often use this expression to express surprise or incredulity. But naturally we don’t say “mamma mia” all the time!

- Italy has a lot of famous fashion designers so Italian people are all fashionable: this isn’t completely true, of course there are people who wear clothes by big names in fashion, and even those who wear this kind of clothes from head to feet, but there are also people who don’t like these things and prefer wearing simple and cheap clothes.

- Italians don’t work hard: this isn’t true because there are a lot of workers who strive to do their best and earn their wages, but obviously, as every country, we have our loafers as well.

- Italians are not so cultured: not completely true, it depends, because in Italy there are learned people as well as ignorant people, as everywhere I suppose, even if, according to some recent surveys, the majority of Italians is quite ignorant about some subjects.

- Italians are always warm and friendly: generally they are, but it always depends on the kind of person and his character.

- Italians are narrow-minded: again, it depends, there are open-minded people as well as narrow-minded people.

- Italians are nosy: I live in a small town and in my area there are some nosy people, especially aged ones, but in Italy there are both nosy people and reserved and discreet people; we aren’t all busy bodies!

Lend a hand to understand

by Lucia Tozzi (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

Intercultural communication is an exchange among people from different countries and cultures, it is useful to understand how people act, communicate and see the world from their perspective in the different parts of the world; and this is what the Comenius project means to be.

Interculturality means exchanging information preserving mutual respect and neutralizing all the prejudices and hostilities. Every background has its traditions, attitudes, values and beliefs, sometimes the characteristics of a country are similar to those of another one, sometimes instead they can be different, but in this case we mustn’t think that one is correct and the other one is not; both of them are correct because they represent a different perspective of the same thing, that is to say that there isn’t only one way to look at something but there are always many possibilities, because the world is varied. We can’t enter another culture with the conviction that ours is the best, this would be symptom of pride and ignorance: everything depends on history, context and habits, and as they are different from place to place, so it is natural that there are differences among different cultures, there aren’t mistakes, it’s just the variety and the case of life. The French philosopher René Descartes said that it is good to know something about other people’s customs so that we can judge more wisely ours, and we mustn’t think that everything that doesn’t correspond to our usages is ridiculous and unreasonable.

Understanding is the main thing in communication, but, often, it isn’t so easy. Misunderstanding can be dangerous, because a single message can be decoded in very different ways, so the same thing can be harmless for one person, but offensive for someone else. Communication can be hard also among people from the same country and who speak the same language, but it is even harder among people from different countries an who speak different languages. The verb “to understand” can be read on different levels, in fact, if I asked you “do you understand me?” I could be asking if you understand the simple meaning of the words I have pronounced, if you understand them in their logical sense and if you have taken the message I want to send you; and this is the more superficial meaning of the question, the one more used, especially among people  of different languages. But I could be asking something deeper as well, maybe I want to know if you understand why I think a certain thing rather than another, if you understand my reasons, if you understand what a thing means for me, if you can imagine it or maybe you feel the same. I’m not sure if I’ve been understandable… well, sometimes it’s really hard to be understood!

To define is to limit

by Lucia Tozzi (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

Stereotypes generate prejudices and prejudices generate stereotypes, and in this vicious circle both of them can develop into racism, which is one of the worst things in the world, as it can only divide people putting one against the other without a valid reason. All this is due to the tendence of proud people to label other people in the belief that they are in the right while the others are not.

For example, here in Italy there are many immigrants, most of them from Africa and Eastern Europe, and there are some Italian people who judge them negatively only on the base of what they’ve heard: if a person like this hears on the TV news that an Albanian (for example) has stolen something or has done something illegal, then that person concludes that all the Albanians are thieves or criminals, and this thing is very sad.

But this kind of behaviour isn’t only towards people from a different country, because there can be similar episodes even among people from the same country, as it happens in mine: in fact in Northern Italy there are some people who have distrust towards people from the South.

All this borders racism and makes integration harder than it actually is. It is already difficult for someone to leave his own country and go to live somewhere else, but adapting is even more difficult when there are such people who treat foreigners with distrust or even behaving with superiority. Every country has its immigrants as well as its emigrants, so people should first think about how they would like to be treated if they were immigrants in another country and then behave consequently towards foreign people in theirs.

Furthermore, there aren’t stereotypes only among people from different places and different cultures, there are stereotypes even between adult people and teenagers. Since the world is there, adults and teenagers have always had communication problems, due also to these stereotypes.

In fact adults always see teenagers as children, who disobey and play nasty tricksonly in order to catch attention, while teenagers see adults as the ones who refuse them permissions and never try to understand them. Adults maintain they do understand teenagers only because they have been teenagers too, but from a generation to another many things change, and so do teenagers’ behaviours, ideas and tastes. When adults are accused from teenagers of refusing them to have fun, they always use the excuse that they just want to protect them. And when teenagers are reproached because they aren’t mature enough, they defend themselves saying that they just want to have fun. Many adults think that teenagers are all ignorant, spend their time in front of the computer and don’t have good interests, but I can say that there are many adults more ignorant than some teenagers I know are.

In short, I think people should understand that they can’t build their opinions without experience because you can’t judge if you don’t know, and learn to judge themselves before judging the others.

But, after all, who has the right to judge? Who is a person to judge another person? People are too varied to be framed in a fixed definition; labels are useless.

I find that Oscar Wilde  summed up an entire philosophy in the five words he made Lord Henry Wotton say: “To define is to limit.”

Pros and Cons of living in Italy

by Holly Isobel Douglas (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

I think Italians have a pretty bad reputation in the world.

Abroad, Italians are usually seen as loud, unorganised, lazy, proud people. I don’t believe in stereotypes but lots of Italians are similar to how other people describe them.

Italians are in fact also known for their generosity and openness. They are considered laidback, happy, carefree people, and many are that way.

I hate the idea of Italians being associated with Mafia, I think it’s unfair that something so horrible and “limited” should be linked to the whole population.

In my opinion it’s impossible to list the characteristics of Italians, as it is for any other population. Everyone is unique.

What makes my country interesting

Italy detains from 60% to 80% of the world heritage art masterpieces.

I think art and monuments are probably Italy’s strongest points.

The most famous and visited sites are the Colosseum, the leaning Tower of Pisa, la Basilica di San Pietro , La Basilica di San Marco, etc.

Even St. Frances’ Basilica in Assisi is one of the most visited churches in the country.

Another thing that attracts foreigners pushing them to visit Italy is it’s wonderful food and wine, one of the best cuisines in the world.

Apart from the gastronomic traditions, the culture itself is really varied and surprising for an outsider to see. The “boot” has so many different local traditions linked to it’s various regions, from traditional dances, to songs, dishes, words, dialects.

Italy is also one of the leading countries in the fashion and the cinema industry.

The sunny weather is just the icing on the cake: Italy has so much to offer.

The wall of prejudice

by Letizia Di Lorenzo (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

What’s a stereotype? It’s not so easy to explain. In terms of printing it’s simply a duplicate impression of an original typographical element. The stereotype in a culture is a “common way to think about something”, short phrases to classificate something or someone. The connection with typograhy is really interesting: let’s suppose that I have just one printing press and a document : I can duplicate my original sheet of paper infinitely. Like a common idea: lots of people think and say the same things, always in the same way, like a sort of chant. In French this situation is called “clichè”, but the connection is the same, in fact the word tries to emulate the sound of a printing press.

The sad thing about stereotypes is that they are often negative. The positive one is that stereotypes are false. At least, we talk about generalisations, so they may be true for a specific person, but not for a nation!. It’s true that in Italy there are people who work for the Mafia, but not everyone. Chinese men maybe are not so tall, but the tallest man in the world is a Chinese and he is 2.40 meters more or less! Moreover, not every German eats potatoes or sauerkraut…

Sometimes a common idea can be funny, amusing, like a sort of caricature, but stereotypes can be really cruel: a real obstacle for communication, integration in a country, travels. Yes, travels.. “You are italian?  -can think someone when you are visiting his country- Ok, so you like pasta, you are noisy and of course you work for the Mafia.” Now it’s an exageration, but it’s better to avoid every form of generalisation, positive or negative, because every person is different, unique, unrepetable. Not like a piece of paper for typography!

Let’s think about it!

Let’s demolish the wall of prejudice

by Martina Bagnetti (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

In the past Italy only belonged to the Italians; at school the majority of students were Italians and in this mentality narrower than now, prejudices were rooted and numerous. Now we live in an intercultural society where people of different nationalities are our friends, are in our families, in our class and we don’t see them as foreigners too different from us so we accept them without problems, fighting prejudices. This new intercultural society is possible because distances are shorter thanks to faster means of transport; just one day of travel to reach the other part of the world. Distances that in the past looked insurmountable, are now accessible to anyone. Thanks to Internet we can keep in touch with friends in every part of the world through networks like msn or facebook. I think these are fantastic inventions because thanks to them we can speak free with people far away. The love for travelling brings people to visit different places and often take up residence in those countries.In this blend of different people and nationalities we should open our mind and accept with happiness the “different”.

Unfortunately in our society it’s not simple for foreigners to integrate themselves because there are lot of people that have racial prejudice. Differences are seen as something insurmountable and there are still violent episodes of racism. I think that to accept different people, know different cultures and try to understand different points of view is important because it’s a personal enrichment. I’m very curious and for me differences among people are not an obstacle, but on the contrary I’m interested in them and in exchanging opinions and ideas. Interculturalism has to be seen as a positive resource for a complex development of society and people, and to reach this objective dialogue and peaceful coexistence are necessary. It’s important to make young people aware about this subject to prevent racism and promote exchange among cultures. We are citizens of the world and in this world prejudice must not exist

What do you think about……?

by Gloria Meazzi (1992): Liceo Classico Sesto Properzio, LSP Assisi/Italy

It’s true that stereotypes condition so much our thinking; we often think of something considering the appearance and not the reality and we make a wrong opinion. For example, when a girl or a boy like studying automatically they’re boring people, if a girl is cute, she’s stupid or if a boy listens to metal music or similar, he’s strange. At this age it’s easy to judge the others, maybe because we still don’t have enough maturity and experience, and infact we often discover that a person is very different from our first impression.

This doesn’t happen only between teenagers, but also among teenagers and adults; an adult thinks that a boy is lazy, reckless, immature just because is young, and a boy thinks that an adult is an impediment to his fun, boring and authoritarian. Sometimes these prejudices can be dangerous if we don’t put them aside, for example stereotypes about foreign people that create bad reactions as arguments, brawls or worse.

When we ask some people that live in other countries which idea of Italy they have, they all answer saying that the classic Italian speaks loud, is always ready to make noise, doesn’t respect rules, is an idler, is always late, tries to persuade everyone. Besides they say we are obsessed with fashion, and the italian man is often called “latin lover” for his attitude to court women.

I think that the largest part of those stereotypes is anchored to the past, when a lot of Italians emigrated to America, Switzerland and many other countries; there they often didn’t have a good behaviour, as it happens sometimes in Italy nowadays by people that come from foreign countries, and so they have a bad reputation. Anyway I agree about the clothes, because we consider fashion very important, but it’s quite normal because our country is one of the major producer in this sector and I don’t think is a negative thing. I also agree with the nickname of  “latin lover” because most Italian man have the attitude to flatter the woman they like, and almost all of the women are bothered by this behaviour.

I think that stereotypes aren’t completely invented, but generalizing is wrong and unfortunately sometimes we forget about this.

About Travelling

January 27th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

by Chiara Conti (1992), Assisi/Italy.

About travelling

Let’s demolish the wall of prejudice!

January 27th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

by Martina Bagnetti (1992), Assisi/Italy.

Let’s demolish the wall of prejudice

Intercultural Communication: Instructions + A Student’s Life: Pros and Cons

January 27th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

by Alessandra Ciotti (1992), Assisi/Italy.

Intercultural communication: instructions

A Student’s life: pros and cons

What do you think about . . . ?

January 27th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

by Gloria Meazzi, Assisi/Italy.

Gloria Meazzi 1992: What do you think about … ?

The Wall of Prejudice / Travelling

January 27th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

by Letizia Di Lorenzo, Assisi/Italy.

Di Lorenzo Letizia 1992: The wall of prejudice

Di Lorenzo Letizia 1992: Travelling

Italy’s sweet flaws and modern past

January 27th, 2011 by Vitale, Bianca

by Elena Mihalas, Assisi/Italy.

Elena Mihalas 1991: Italy’s sweet flaws and modern past