Culture, Heritage and Diversity

 

The international policies of the intercultural city – Reggio Emilia signs a co-operation agreement with Morocco

 

An aspiring intercultural city should have an international policy that seeks, at least in part, to promote a dynamic relationship with places of origin of major Diaspora groups. Such relations can help the city understand the geopolitical, cultural and economic context in which newcomers have been socialised, and shape its policies of welcome and integration accordingly. They can also support migrants in developing a sense of belonging to their new community, by giving a formal recognition their country of origin and their cultural identity.

 

Cities across Europe are becoming aware of the need to develop such "foreign affairs" and most commonly use city twinning, artistic exchanges and development co-operation to this end. Some cities are trying to foster business relations with countries of origin, seeking investment or joint ventures, but few have an (inter)cultural international policy agenda where both parties contribute as equals to supporting integration, social cohesion and respect for diversity.

 

Reggio Emilia, member of the Intercultural cities network, has made a major step in this respect. It has just signed, through the Intercultural centre Mondinsieme, an agreement with the Moroccan Ministry in charge of relations with the diaspora. The agreement underpins Reggio’s holistic intercultural policy and seeks to "promote socio-cultural mixing and openness towards the other".

 

Both sides are providing significant financial contributions to the activities included in the agreement, which are as follows:

an open space mini-theatre in the Pauline Park

an innovative park area designed to encourage intercultural contacts through educational trails and games for adults and children and intercultural encounters

Annual cultural visits to Morocco for young Italians of different origins

Participation of students from Reggio Emilia in the Summer university of the young people of the world organised annually in Morocco

The promotion of Moroccan culture and the teaching of Arabic to young people in Reggio of different origins

Enabling the participation of young people of Moroccan origin living in Reggio Emilia in cultural and sports activities of the city.

Mondinsieme has already opened an Arabic class for non-Arabic speakers – the demand for which exceeded by far the expectations.