Here is the story of one of the educators of the LIME Project pilot action in Rome, Italy.
Elio has been working with LIME partner organization CIES in Rome, Italy, for almost one year and a half. He has a rich experience in working with migrants and refugees. He was engaged in integration and inclusion activities in Calabria and has worked with the European Asylum support office for the recognition of the refugee status.
ALDA’s team had an interesting conversation with Elio, during which we have learnt more about his teaching experience in the program.
How was the communication with the participants of the program?
Elio explained that communication varied according to the Italian language competencies of the participants. “Some of them had really few competencies in Italian, while others used to speak almost like me…in some way, there was a big difference among them…so I would say in some cases it was a problem but in other cases it was not, at the end 90% of those we selected had good Italian language skills” said Elio.
Elio further explained that the required Italian language level for participation was B2, in order for them to have a fruitful experience. However, they ended up accepting people with a lower level of Italian language in an attempt to exclude as least candidates as possible.
How was the relationship between educators and beneficiaries? Was it easy to gain their trust?
“It is never easy to gain their trust!” answered Elio. He explained that the majority of participants have been through a lot before joining LIME; the difficulties embedded in their journey from leaving their country of origin, resettling in different accommodation centers, meeting new people and joining different previous projects complicate the situation. However, a few months later, they were able to build a strong relationship with them. “To build the kind of relationship that we have now, it took a few months,” said Elio.
How was the atmosphere in the classroom and the participation of the participants?
“It is always a safe place…a good atmosphere with the trainers, with us from CIES, as you heard from them” answered Elio. He further explained that participants have been involved in different activities ranging from the low interactive activities to the more involving and engaging activities, so participation varied accordingly.
In general, Elio was satisfied with the level of interaction and participation. “We had a good level of interaction…. There were 50 people divided into small groups, so in order to be able to actually work with them, we tried to mix people, the shy and the more active…” said Elio.
In terms of project impact, do you feel that the program improved their life and helped them overcome the obstacles they had?
In general, Elio was satisfied with the results of the program, however, he recommended adding more practical activities in any similar future work. “I have to be more critical of us here, the course was really complex and long, and in some way we could have developed more practical activities, because I have seen that in those parts, participants were more involved and they gained more” said Elio.
How did Covid-19 affect you? Did you face any difficulties switching to the online mode?
Like everything else, the LIME Project was also affected by Covid-19. Elio explained that changing all methods of work to the online mode was not an easy task. He said “The first two weeks were really difficult because we had to understand how to rearrange all activities and then to contact all the participants and explain how to use the platform… a lot of them did not have previous online learning experience… It was challenging, but eventually, we made it, they made it, we managed to restart all the activities online”.
Elio was very happy with the online participation of students during the lockdown. “I was surprised, but in a good way, in how they participated in the online part of the project and they benefited a lot from the complementary online activities such as writing a CV or how to search for a job especially during COVID-19” said Elio.
What did you think was the most interesting part for participants?
Elio explained that there are two main parts in which participants were the most interested. First, the practical activities, which have unfortunately started after the lockdown, so participants had to do the practical exercises at home. Nevertheless, they were happy and the results were amazing. Second, the development of their professional profiles was something that the participants appreciated a lot, through rewriting their CVs and learning tips on how to find a job during Covid-19.
And for you, what was the most interesting part?
The selection process is the first thing that Elio found interesting in the program. “It is very interesting to meet all these people with different stories… At the beginning you might think that, more or less, they all have similar paths and similar stories, but when you get to know them and when you talk to them more than once, you understand their specific experiences and their specific expectations… It was challenging, but interesting” explained Elio.
Elio also enjoyed working in the entrepreneurship training of the LIME project very much. He said “It is my field… meeting people who already have a business idea that they want to develop in order to grow as a professional and as an entrepreneur, was interesting to me”.
It was our pleasure to meet Elio, one of the many people that contributed to the success of the LIME Project. We thank him for talking with us and we wish him more success in his life.