The TEEN Project: educating foreign teenagers in logical-mathematical thinking
The Polisocial project teaching 18-year-olds how to manage daily life for independence and citizenship
Alpha is originally from The Gambia. He left alone, without saying anything to anyone or saying goodbye to his family. He arrived in Italy three years ago. He lives in Milan in a community for minors, speaks good Italian and has a solid network of friends, particularly other Gambians. For many years, he has experienced the security, but also the restraints, of community life. As an organised society, we have guaranteed him the same rights as every child: food, a house, protection, as well as learning the language and basic schooling.
In a few months, Alpha will be considered an adult and will have to deal with life as a citizen without networks and support systems, outside of the community. Having left adolescence behind him early out of necessity, and dealt with the struggles and dangers of the journey, he was then brought back to a state of “forced minority”. He no longer had the opportunity to stimulate and improve his skills in getting by and interpreting the world and its complexity with adequate tools, those same skills that he needed on his journey. Orientation, reading signs, using a mobile, linguistic ability and the ability to work to pay for the stages of the journey and at times the price for his own survival.
Data shows that adolescents are emigrating from Africa alone and at increasingly younger ages, between 10 and 17 years old, often travelling for years. In a doubly peripheral experience, of loneliness and isolation from the world. If we take on the issue of developing their skills to enable them to integrate into a setting that has different rules to the one they came from, if we understand that this generation of adolescents often have keen but underused qualities and aptitudes, we should ask ourselves collectively what other routes we can take, beyond the rationale of the initial reception.