Maria Vittoria Sebastiani

Publish date 23-04-2022

by Roberto Lerda

Maria Vittoria Sebastiani is an energetic 86-year-old lady with a sharp look and a confident voice. She is a retired professor and passionate about cultural mediation, she has taught in secondary schools and universities, in Italy and abroad.
For three years she has started a "new career" totally free and, with the passion of a young heart, she returns her professionalism in a new way: teaching Italian to foreigners.

Her is a wealth of experiences, like that in the USA or Somalia, where she learned what it means to teach an illiterate; and now the mission of Casetta Rossa, in the Garbatella district of Rome, where she carries out her business. This richness was recognized with her appointment as Commander of the Order of Merit of the Republic "for her lifelong commitment to promoting the culture of dialogue and encounter".
In a recent interview she comments on the meaning of her activity as follows: «We consider this teaching of Italian as a tool to set in motion the“ culture of encounter ”.

Here we do it right from below, it is in our spirit: welcoming in any case, doing things together, participation and encounter ». It is a change of approach and mentality: it is a question of passing from a concept of welcome, which underlines the diversity of conditions of the two parties involved, to that of encounter, which emphasizes unity and the effort to make room to the other.

She then also launches an appeal to the authorities: "I believe that people of power must remember that we must do things together, that close to us there are people who come from other countries who must be encouraged and known". Language is the first real means of encounter that allows foreigners to insert themselves into the social fabric of the country of arrival and Maria Vittoria, who in turn was an immigrant, knows this well. "Participating in a mechanism of listening to everyone is something that can be learned". We should all learn this style to make the culture of encounter grow within us and around us.

Roberto Lerda
NP January 2022

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