United World Project


Story of a mural of peace

27 September 2022   |   , Pace,
Byi Cristina Giorgetti

Some time ago, one of our readers from Italy sent us a narration of a beautiful adventure lived in school, with her students and colleagues, trying to take care of their institute. We share this with you all as in many parts of the world, in these days the schools have just begun. And then, because, the protagonist, Cristina, has at heart a united world like us!

I’ve always had the idea that the school should be a beautiful place. For this, many a times, I asked my students to repaint some classrooms. This, not because of the lack of public funds, but to make the school a colourful place which the students feel as their own.

From many years, in the institute in which I teach, there was a wall smeared with an act of vandalism. It troubled me looking at it like this and I always thought of repainting it with my students. Then, this year, as part of a civic education course on volunteerism, we passed from the idea to the act. And so we had the possibility to pass from this:

To this:

And we were already happy! If nothing else, now we had a decent wall!

Sometime later, Jacopo joined the school, a new colleague who taught religion: a creative person, an artist. Together, to design and realize a mural we presented the project “Painting values”.

When the meetings to prepare the draft with the teens began, during the discussions the value of peace emerged. Also because my school is named after Aldo Capitini, a philosopher from Perugia, educator and antifascist. He was amongst the first in Italy to grasp and theorize the nonviolent Gandhian thought, to the point where he came to be called the “Italian Gandhi”. Then, the outbreak of the war and the arrival of a Ukrainian boy brought out many other ideas.

Painting a 12 metre by 3 wall wasn’t an easy task at all. Besides the size, it was quite hot and the wall was rather wrinkled and colour-repellent…

The involvement of many teens, colleagues, janitors and parents was amazing. Little by little, it became a shared artwork, that collected the contributions of ideas and hands by the teens of all the classes, the very different, the most improbable (and unexpected!): from differently abled teens to the SEN (Special Educational Needs) ones. A coral artwork. Never seen teens so happy and satisfied of something! Merit to all!

I learnt a lot from Jacopo, a “risk fully inclusive” colleague. He is a real artist but was never attached to the “beautiful” result. Instead, he was always careful to the process, to value each contribute, to seize every idea, like that of making those who didn’t have the “courage” to paint, to write a key word such that everyone could express themselves. Amongst the many teens, even the Ukrainian boy wanted to write a word in Russian, that translated meant: “the moment”. It was like saying: the moment of peace is now!

Others students added words in Chinese, Urdu, Arabic and Albanian. Different words: fraternity, justice, truth, love, dialogue, happiness…… everything that for them contributes to an “explosion of peace”. This was then chosen as the title of their artwork. A differently abled boy really wished that the classes who participated were highlighted with the colours of the rainbow. But we were talking of so many classes that it didn’t seem the case to…… though we didn’t want to exclude this idea. Thus, we made a paper banner that realized his idea.

If I have to say it all, the secret of this experience was that this colleague had to heart, like us, a united world.

Others “feel” this depth. We saw it through the comments of who saw us working with the teens, as well as the colleagues that threw themselves and picked up a paintbrush, who mustered the courage and started painting. Then they told us of having been so well and rested. Our artwork was symbolically inaugurated on the last day of school in the presence of the mayor of Agliana and of many “DIFFERENT ARTISTS” of the Technical Institute “Aldo Capitini”. An immense joy for us and for everyone.

And here, Jacopo and myself, my dangerously inclusive colleague!