Rome (Italy). From 3 to 5 November 2023 in Rome, at the headquarters of the National Center for Salesian Works (CNOS), the formation weekend was held for young animators and managers of the CGS, APS Sociocultural Youth Cinecircles of Italy. This is the story of Chiara, from the CGS Ubuntu of Recale, in the province of Caserta:
“It is said that in everyone’s life there is an invisible red thread that delicately intertwines the existence of a person with that of someone else. As soon as you arrive at the National Center for Salesian Works in Rome, climbing the stairs you immediately notice an enormous spool of red thread with a needle next to it, like the omen of a dream, which whispers: “Be careful, something big is about to happen.” Important: lives are about to meet.” Thus begins the story of all those who, from 12 local clubs throughout Italy, participated in the formation weekend. An encounter that made the difference, and it could not have happened otherwise, being the work of a skilled tailor like Don Bosco.
Are we capable of dreaming? With this question Fr. Elio Cesari, National President of CNOS, together with Cristiano Tanas, National President of CGS, launched a fundamental provocation to all participants: dreams are vocations that are cultivated today, otherwise they remain only illusions. Dreaming always helped Don Bosco to follow his heart, and in particular his famous “dream at nine years” was his guide, which accompanied him, perhaps unconsciously, in all his decisions. Someone saw further than he did. In fact, at the basis of the activities proposed by the CGS, from theater to cinema, from art to music, there is always the concreteness of a dream. Which? The desire to make young people dream, not someone else’s dreams, but their own.
From there followed a spontaneous flow of smiles, stories revealed, hot croissants, coffee, karaoke, dialects compared, and common dreams of “Salesian Italy”. The stories of the participants completed each other, as if they had always known each other, demonstrating that it is not the amount of time that makes a relationship special, but its intensity, regardless of any distance.
In the end, perhaps, “it’s all a question of form and substance”, as the journalist Marta Rossi explained in her formation talk. Today we are used to believing in any appearance, without testing its depth. How can we then counteract the irrational bubble of misinformation and go beyond what the eyes see? Learn to communicate in the right way.
By virtue of these reflections, the participants were given the opportunity to test themselves and decide how to communicate to the public the emotions felt during the formation weekend, giving free rein to their creativity: from Tik Tok and Instagram trends to graphic representations; from watching videos to the accurate use of words. The final realization of the projects brought out the great diversity and uniqueness of the individual participants, who were especially encouraged to compare in view of a common objective.
Furthermore, how could a phase dedicated to cinema be missing from the formation weekend? Irene Sandroni, cultural anthropologist, has given everyone a magnifying glass to carefully analyze the heart of a film or short film, taking a step back from the impulsiveness of immediate emotions. No shot is random, because it is the details that make the difference and tell the eyes much more than a dialogue can. The evening film club was characterized by the screening of the short films “When you wish upon a star” by Domenico Modafferi and “Frontiera” by Alessandro Di Gregorio, thanks to which it was possible to temporarily put oneself in the director’s shoes, as well as in the personal ones of the viewer.
Raffaella Zoppi, social educator, was entrusted with the final moments of the three days of formation, focused on the theme of education. There has been a long debate on the definitions of “educator” and “animator”, because dealing with young people requires soul, but at the same time skills to help them express themselves. We reflected on the fact that both the figure of the cultural educator and that of the young person, today risks incurring an oppressive idealization, which leaves no room for error and the uncertainty of the future. The Salesian motto “Youth for young people”, therefore, evolves into “Youth with young people”, because the answers are never at hand and we walk together to find them.
In conclusion, this year’s formation weekend allowed the common thread to become so intricate as to create a network that crosses the whole of CGS Italy. But the truth is that it linked all the participants to an important mission, so that the annual formation meeting did not remain an end in itself. This is what Fr. Elio Cesari said in the homily of the final Mass: “What Jesus proposes is healing from the disease of hypocrisy that makes us live divided between the truth of ourselves and the mask we wear.” A credible testimony lies in the ability to welcome one’s own weaknesses and love those of others in order to heal them.
The hope is that every person who has experienced the formation weekend will retain within themselves the importance of truth when they dream, when they communicate, when they observe, when they educate. The only way is to remain in the wake of the true Master, before we can become points of reference for the little ones”.