DESCRIPTION OF THE SUCCESS STORY
My name is Hui Hui, I'm Chinese, and I come from Wenzhou. I arrived in Italy at the age of thirteen, for family re-union. I have been integrated in the eighth grade of Italian school, but I did not know a word of Italian. At the end of the school year, however, I passed my exam and I enrolled at “F.Datini” Vocational School. At the beginning it was not easy to make friends, because the Italian guys have many prejudices against Chinese people, but there is a school teacher, Mr Luongo, who takes care of foreign children and speaks Chinese. All Chinese students affectionately call him “lóng gē” 龙哥 (literally translated it means "dragon brother"). He made me attend the language lab for a few hours every morning, so slowly year after year, even though my Italian is not perfect yet, I got my final Diploma (certification) with 95 out of 100 points. I managed to overcome the difficulties - especially in the language of the different subjects - thanks to both initial and further language support during my studies. My commitment to schooling particularly in professional subjects and mathematics, as well as in foreign languages such as English, with excellent results, helped me to compensate for my language difficulties in the Italian language. During my school years I took part in a lot of intercultural activities, workshops, the making of short films on immigration in Prato, writing contests on second generation Chinese in Italy and so on, many good initiatives that increased confidence in myself. I remember in particular the theatre workshop: we staged a Chinese fairy tale "The White Snake", with Italians, Chinese and other foreigners. We worked together really hard, we made the costumes and wrote the script, and, in the end, we acted. On the day of the show, at the Politeama Theatre in Prato, we were all very excited. It was a time of great solidarity, we were scared and my heart was pounding, but, once we were on stage, we had fun and we were able to teach a bit of our Chinese culture to the city of Prato. Now I'm graduated in business administration, my family decided to leave Prato because of the economic crisis. Now we have opened a clothing store in Terracina, I have to help my family and try to give them satisfaction for the sacrifices they have made to send me to school. Often Chinese girls quit school before graduating, because their parents do not care about the diploma, they just want you to learn the language and a bit of business administration needed to open a shop. My parents were smart, because they preferred to sacrifice in order to give me the opportunity to complete my studies. Now I would like to find a job that makes me independent and that in a sense makes me get out of the economic dependence on my family. I think that school has taught me that, too: to believe in myself, to enhance my talent and my skills. I'm still in touch with Mr Luongo, we often speak of the job opportunities that I could have with China, with an import-export activity. He is very proud of my academic success, because I'm one of the few Chinese girls who managed to complete her course of study.
- Give evidence of the possible explanation of the success
The success of the event described is due to the perseverance of the Chinese girl, but also to the language support that the student has received on her impact with Italian secondary school. The activation of specific language workshops for foreign students has been crucial to her success at school. After having dealt with the problem of the language at the level of social interaction and communication, what remains to be done is exactly to support the learning of the language in order to make the student able to face the different school subjects.
- Analyse the interaction between the different actors involved
The presence of a teacher-mediator inside the school helped to create an important reference person for the students who could also find a solution to their problems. The creation of a specific function for the inclusion and integration of foreign students has allowed specific projects aimed at language learning and at the integration of such students in the school community to be launched.
- Describe the action of educational policy, either at local, regional or national level (If relevant):
The Memorandum of Understanding for foreign students, which has been developed at the provincial level, has encouraged the spread of "best practices" of integration, and provided for the related funding for the activation of language workshops for migrant students.
- Identify and describe the transferability potential of the experience:
The experience described by the Chinese student is a success story in the course of study of a foreign student and could be repeated whenever schools implement the specific Memoranda of Understanding or create networks of schools to support teachers in language training for newly arrived migrant students. Inside the school the teacher-mediator is of the utmost importance, as he can motivate students and turn the commitment of the school to integration into effective projects.