This year the Novitiate has involved the novices in a new apostolic activity: giving a hand at Fe Y Alegria in Genoa.
What is Fe y Alegria? It is an international movement of popular education and social promotion based on the values of justice, participation, brotherhood, respect for diversity and solidarity. It collaborates with those who stand on the outskirts to contribute for the transformation of society. This movement was founded in Caracas, Venezuela by Fr. Jose Maria Velaz SJ in 1955.
In Genoa, the headquarters of Fe y Alegria are found at the Don Bosco Institute in Sampierdarena. In this location, Fe y Alegria offers a variety of activities for immigrants that reside in the area to help them grow up as free people which can move around autonomously in the contemporary world.
In order to accommodate the needs of all, including those who work during the day, the scholastic activities are held in the evening. One of the primary objectives is to guide the students towards the matriculation examination in order to be better equipped to enter the labour market.
Our service consists of a meeting every two weeks, where each novice presents a specific theme related to different aspects of our lives such as friendship, the environment that surrounds us and the means of communication. The presentation is then followed by a debate. This apostolic activity allows the novice to experience the reality of immigrants here in Genoa.
The theme discussed during my presentation was ‘My limits’. As soon as I arrived and parked my car I was welcomed by a youthful environment, where adolescents practice various kinds of sport in the external part of the institute, a spacious place with numerous sports grounds. As I entered into the classroom, I found around twenty youths between the age of 16 and 25, who come from Ecuador and Peru, with welcoming and smiling faces. After a brief personal introduction and a little video to introduce the theme, the youths spoke to me about some of their limits. For example, when one finds himself in a country without knowing the language, resulting in a barrier for interpersonal communication. They spoke to me about their condition of finding themselves in a country where they do not know the language and the culture. One of the students struck me when he stated that in order to overcome one’s limits it is necessary to change attitude. They explained to me that once they decided to accept the reality of their situation, they committed themselves to learn the language of the country, mix up with the locals, and get interested in the culture of the country.
In short, I would describe this experience as one of the situations where one leaves with the idea of giving something, but in the end receives much more than he has given.