The meeting of education at the Loano Pre Meeting

If education is full of hope

A dialogue between Fr. Pigi Banna and writer Eraldo Affinati at the Loano Pre Meeting. The topic was the relationship with young people, both in and outside of school, struggling with the difficulties and the novelties brought on by the pandemic.
Francesca Gargantini

The topic of education has become central this year because of all the novelties and difficulties that the pandemic has invited us to look at in our relationship with students and young people. As a teacher, I have seen so many questions arise in me and in my colleagues: how to help a student who has dropped out of school, how to work with a class that is struggling to appreciate the subject, to how to be able to witness that the great and total desire they live for has meaning and fulfillment.

At the Loano Pre Meeting there was a dialogue between Fr. Pigi Banna, professor at the Seminary of Venegono and at the Catholic University, and Eraldo Affinati, writer and founder of the Penny Wirton school for immigrant adolescents, on the theme: "Education, the courage to say I”. It was like a cool breeze on a summer’s evening; as soon as you feel it, you realize how necessary it is.

To start, a few questions: Who allows you to really know yourself? What allows an adult to take risks and take a stand in front of young people? It was emphasized that to do good means to embody what is great, beautiful and free, which every educator has already experienced. It means to capture the hidden impulse of those desires that characterize us, to reveal the essence of life that is already there in the fruits that the young people themselves see, in the experiences they have.

Young people are waiting for someone who is ready to talk freely, someone who takes their every question seriously. Thus Affinati recounted a surprising fact. A Bengali student at Penny Wirton entered the parish church adjacent to the school where he saw a crucifix, and was fascinated. He asked Affinati's wife who Jesus was and whether he had been handsome and loved by women. She recounted the story of the adulteress. Affinati commented, "Watching this dialogue, I was surprised and moved by the intensity of the boy's listening."

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Fr. Pigi showed how there is no situation that cannot be dealt with. When a catechist told him that he wanted to leave, he replied, "I see what you see, I understand why it makes you want to leave. But I also see something else, and I want you to be with me to live these events, to work with me." As Affinati said at the end, "It is enough to see the students' eyes shine to understand who is a true teacher." And Fr. Pigi concluded: "Education is full of hope as long as the adult vibrates and communicates the truth about themselves."