That desperate need to change the world

Alice Zanin’s social engagement experience and the value of transferable skills for active citizenship

Alice Zanin is 21 years old, she is attending the third year of Development and International Cooperation programme at the University of Bologna and has very clear ideas: "I chose this area of ​​study to satisfy a desperate need to change things, to change the world ".

Alice's course of study already requires an attitude to social commitment, but her experience as a Unibo student is not limited to just studying. Her cry comes from the need for a full awareness of one's actions: “Acting consciously, having knowledge and skills, is very important to me. For this reason I have tried every year to find jobs, often based on volunteering, related to the topics of my degree programme” she says.

The great desire to be a protagonist in the world makes Alice an open-minded person and eager to try all interesting activities. And that is why, after receiving an email from her degree tutor about several initiatives, she focuses on a programme that seems to satisfy her hunger for activism:"The deadline to join it was after two days, so I got curious and read the contents of this programme in depth".

The initiative was called ONE. The main objective of this organization is to foster debate among peers sharing the same ideals and values. Alice immidiately applied to join that. The long selection has paid off as she is now actively fighting to defeat extreme poverty and preventable diseases in developing countries.

Thanks to ONE, Alice improved her soft skills, such as time-managing and public speaking. She also had the opportunity to meet political authorities at national and global level and participated in highly constructive international meetings. Thanks to that, she took part in decision-making processes that could make a real difference.

The skills and knowledge acquired with the ONE experience have made Alice's actions more aware. After all, this is what the job market and the whole society requires to young people today: to be ready and responsible towards global challenges, and the University has to prepare also to this. Indeed, Alma Mater has been offering since last year a number of elective courses related to those transferable skills considered today as fundamental for self-development, active citizenship, social inclusion. Service Learning, Public Speaking, Employability, Diversity Management and then Health Management, Patents and Trade Marks, Sustainable Development are just some of the transferable skills offered by the University of Bologna. Some of these are taught in English language.

And once the competences acquired are converted into active citizenship, this must be disseminated to the whole society, especially in times of Covid-19. The “Menzione al merito per l’impegno civico” initiative, promoted by the University of Bologna, aims exactly to that. Students who distinguished themselves last year for carrying out voluntary activities, in full pandemic emergency, were awarded last October 2020 a public recognition, during the welcome event for freshmen.

The commitment of these students, as well as Alice’s engagement, strengthens the entire community of the Alma Mater, which can count on young people with innovative and concrete ideas, able of actively contribute to a more equitable and sustainable tomorrow. Thus, from the desperate need, the world really begins to change.