An Erasmus Between Northern And Southern Italy?

The Sardines proposed an Erasmus between northern and southern Italian universities.

exchange program by the sardines

The Sardines proposed an Erasmus between northern and southern Italian universities

The Sardines Movement — or rather, simply called the Sardines or 6000 Sardines, an Italian activist and political movement — proposed a student exchange program at a national level, where students in the north of Italy would go study to the south, and vice versa. Far from being considered as the solution to the north-south divide, there are several points to take seriously.

About the Sardines

The movement started as a flash mob on last November 14 in Bologna, the regional capital of Emilia-Romagna, to contrast the far-right League leader Matteo Salvini’s electoral campaign in the same city at the time. More rallies organized by the Sardines, or by others, continued to increase. The rally in Rome is said to have hosted over 100,000 with a title and mission: “6000 sardines against Salvini.” Their leaders have defined the Sardines as a movement that fights against illiberal ideals and racial discrimination.

“There is no insult, no symbol, and no political party,” states Mattia Santori, one of the creators of the movement. Italics Magazine was able to interview him in 2018, before he became famous.

The name of the movement comes from its flash mobs against the League led by Salvini, where anti-fascist groups are strong and numerous, all congregated closely together — just as sardines are in a tin. The number 6000 was because if the location where Salvini’s rally was being held in Bologna could hold 5,570 people, then 6000 would show up to beat them.

A national exchange program?

The Sardines recently proposed an exchange program at a national level between northern and southern Italian universities. This cultural mobility, as it is frequently called in the media, could help ameliorate the regional diversities which are frequently spoken about.

Santori’s proposal has been greeted with sarcasm and negativity, even though this proposal was already previously suggested last year by the Forza Italia Senate leader, Anna Maria Bernini. That proposal stated that students who have demonstrated their worth can further pursue studies and research through governmental funding in an Italian region different from their residence.

Expanding the horizon

Indeed, the Sardines’ proposal is a program that could definitely turn out to be useful. Frequently, studying elsewhere can be expensive and stressful. Therefore, for students to be able to switch to doing this at a national level could still be educational, while hopefully decreasing some of the stereotypes that are now so present between the north and south.

I do, however, comprehend the questions raised about this program about who would be funding it, the choice that students would want to make, and the ‘losses’ that could arise. The European Union has provided funds for students to study in another European country than one’s own, because it provides a useful cultural exchange and growth, which brings me to the next point. Why would a Neapolitan choose Milan, instead of London? This is not because Milan doesn’t have plenty to offer; however, as an exchange program, there are more cultural differences to be absorbed in London compared to Milan, for instance. Even simply the fact that these two cities speak different languages; a Neapolitan moving to another Italian city could result in a loss of potential growth.

But it’s important to state that I am a believer that anywhere we go, we can learn something. Moving to another Italian city would be interesting and profound. As a Milanese, I am sure I would learn a thing or two if I moved to Palermo, in Sicily; I am sure.

However, I do comprehend that there are more losses than gains. Italy is a small country — therefore not hard to travel around in — and rather than providing funds for these exchange programs, I believe we could dedicate these funds to research grants, for instance. And rather than proposing exchange programs, we could focus on programs that could include the older generations as well. They are after all the ones holding onto the strongest stereotypes about the north and south. Thus, this exchange program is not a bad idea, yet not quite structured enough to be fully worth the investment.

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