Roma Integra

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The story so far…

Carried out by OMVCI and SONIA, with the participation of Slow Food Lazio and the Municipality of Zagarolo.


Italy in general, and the city of Rome in particular, have experienced strong migratory flows in recent years. In early 2010, ISTAT  recorded 4 million and 235,000 foreign residents, but , according to Caritas- IDOS estimates, there were 4 million and 919,000 foreigners residing in Italy . According to the same source, the increase of the residents was approximately 3 million over the last decade and almost 1 million in the last two years. More than one-tenth live in Lazio (497,940 or 11.8%), of which 268,996 live in Rome.

"However , due to the recessions, negative reactions to migration have also increased.  Italians seem to be far away from a real comprehension of this reality. Transatlantic Trends Research (2009) shows that respondents felt that immigrants form 23% of the resident population (which should be around 15 million), and that the " illegal migrants " are more numerous than the regular migrants (while official estimates accredit a number between 500,000 and 700,000)”.

A recent study by CENSIS , based on 5,000 interviews conducted with residents of 10 major cities, reveals that 90 % of the inhabitants of the metropolis experience some fear,  and 42.4 % experience "great fear " of the phenomenon of migration. Rome turns out to be the one with the highest percentage of people claiming to be living in fear, which is striking given the fact that Rome is on the top of the list of the safest cities in the world. According to the director of CENSIS, the reason behind the fear the Romans experience is “ the lack of adaptation to the change in the city which is generated by immigration". 
Schools can play a key role: according to the seventh report (2010) of the Roman Observatory on Migration, between the academic years of 2006-2007 and 2009-2010, the increase of foreign students in the province was on the average of 28.2%,  of  which  26.8% in the Municipality of Rome, and almost double (51,6%) in the School District no 36 of  Palestrina - Zagarolo. Therefore, any intervention aimed at fostering a dialogue is not possible without the involvement of schools. Keeping in mind that fear is generated mainly by prejudice and ignorance of other cultures, the initiative proposed by this project is aimed at eliminating prejudice, ignorance and fear around the phenomenon of immigration and immigrants.

General Objective: sensitize  Italian and foreign residents - with particular emphasis on school children, women and their families - in the municipalities of Rome and the surrounding areas (Zagarolo, Palestrina) on the issues of intercultural dialogue and of social inclusion through a better understanding of migration and its positive contribution, and recognition of diversity as a resource that contributes to the  integration and richness of the urban and social environment.

Specific objectives:

  1. make a synthesis of the results of several recent studies, including participatory research,  on the obstacles and opportunities for integration and social inclusion of  the present diasporas living in Rome and province.

  2. increase awareness – starting from the schools -  on the situation of some migrant communities and identify obstacles as well as opportunities for better integration between Italian and foreign residents and for co-development; 

  3. To contribute – through the organization of  public  events – to the recognition of the value of ones’ own culture in relation to  “other cultures” , and to increase the knowledge of these cultures by Italian citizens using " Food " as a means of dialogue ;

  4. Assist in creating and strengthening a network of inter-communal - Associations ( Italian , foreign and mixed) and public bodies involved in the phenomenon of migration that is able to identify “good practices” of integration in order to promote their adoption in the entire territory of Rome and province.

Project Beneficiaries

Adults and youth of the primary cycle of secondary schools, Italians and foreigners, of the territories of Rome and Province will be sensitized about intercultural dialogue and social inclusion through a better knowledge of migration, of the multiple contributions of migrants and the acknowledgement of diversity as a resource that contributes to integration and to the richness of the urban and social environment.

Foreseen Activities

  1. Development of a synthesis document of recent studies on migration, including some participatory research work.

  2. The material for the dissemination of research and the training material will be prepared by specialists in the development of audio-visual media. All the material produced will be circulated amongst the concerned individuals and will also be made available online via the websites of OMVCI and SONIA.

  3. Competition among students of graphics for the development of the logo "Roma Integra" and dissemination of the results of the summary document.
    The logo "Roma Integra", along with the logo of the Lazio Region, will be used in all the activities promoted by this initiative and it will acknowledge the name of  the student whose proposal is judged “winner”. All proposals received will be made available on the websites of OMVCI and SONIA.

  4. A maximum of 10 workshops in lower secondary schools will be organized to raise awareness and emphasise the positive value of the migration using the combination of knowledge - flavours  of migration.
    The dissemination material used will be made available online on the websites of the two associations. A cartoonist will be  present during the schools’ workshops to engage students in the production of a comic book focused on the themes of “integration and second generations of immigrants”, starting from the theme of the food.

  5. In collaboration with Slow Food Lazio, organize days of reflection and practice of 'integration of flavours and cultures in the style of a "Terra Madre ethnic" in Rome and province, The event will include  the organization of “Taste labs” (Laboratori del Gusto)  for children and adults with products and dishes of the countries of origin of some diasporas.
    The participation of Slow Food will help  ensuring the level of experience needed to begin a journey that is able to stimulate a debate on the dialogue between cultures from the foods we eat, the identity value that these convey, the definition of our cultures and thecreation of new intercultural bonds.

  6. Meetings and conferences based on food, from those who produce and those who consume it.
Experts on  issues related to food, to integration and to the complex phenomena of interculture will meet and exchange views with the boys and girls who participated in the experience of "Roma Integra", their parents and the general public.

  7. The Practice of "Roma Integra": SONIA, in collaboration with the OMVCI and other organizations and institutions, will create and animate a  network of social actors, made up of immigrant associations, associations of the Third Sector and mixed associations  as well as representatives of local and public authorities . The goal of this network is to create a space for dialogue between the different stakeholders, identify the positive experiences of integration, especially in schools and among families and designing action plans together with authorities at local, provincial and regional level to reduce barriers to integration.

These activities will take place during 2013, consistent with the schedules of the schools that are central to the success of this initiative.