It has been almost a year since the Malian guys arrived in Gallicano, followed by a few others from Pakistan and Afganistan.
We’re planning a public meeting in a local school. Finally, after several months, we get a chance to explain to the students what we’re doing and why these guys are here.
There have been times of tension recently. Some parent saw African guys taking pictures of children playing in the park. Police was called, but nothing out of ordinary was reported. Possibly some people just become paranoid. There have been, however other complains. Another time some African guys irritated parents, strolling around the school looking for a free Wi-Fi.
During the evening of the meeting, teacher warned us we might get some awkward and uncomfortable questions from the pupils. He also asked us to be aware of what we say as the pupils will report everything to their parents afterwards.
The atmosphere resembles walking on a razor edge or a crucial government vote that would determine the future of the nation. Everyone seemed nervous and anticipating something to happen. Nothing, however was going to happen and I immediately realized why.
We sit with the Malian and some others in the conference room. Little by little pupils arrive. None of them sits aside and from the first moment the pupils and the asylym seekers mix up together. The room is buzzing with chat and laughter as the pupils and the asylum seeker integrate with ease. I also notice that the Malians begin to get along with the pupils
– What’s going on? – I asked Toure.
– Nothing. I’m just chatting to my friends – he replied.
– Do you know each other? –
– Of course, we play football every afternoon-
Me too! – another Italian guy said
Me too! – an another Italian guy from behind said
We, adults are so stupid. Too many worthless tensions created by gossips among parents, municipal administrators, social workers and all others.
So there I was, in the front of those 3 or 4 pupils, who play football with their Malian friends in the afternoon, waiting for this dreadful meeting to begin.
Stefano Elmi (words)
Simone Togneri (illustration)