Melinda Willis

Melinda Willis (TAMPEP, Turin): At the time of her fellowship, Melinda was studying for a Master’s degree at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. She was the 2004-2005 co-editor of Praxis, the Fletcher Journal of International Development.



Managing Misconceptions

18 Jun

It is an all too familiar story. A young man seeking an apartment inquires about a rental over the phone and a showing is arranged. But once the man is seen in person, he is told he is too late and the apartment has been rented. This is happening over and over to my roommate’s friend in Turin. He is Nigerian.

I have been told that the neighborhood I live in is considered one of the most dangerous in the city. Sure, the drugs sold a few blocks away near the train station don’t do much to improve its image. But I am also told that a major part of this perception is the high immigrant population. For some people, a foreign face is threatening.

Here at TAMPEP, integrating migrants into Italian society is a major theme of projects past and present. Their work transcends the fight against trafficking and helping women escape forced prostitution. They are also trying to maneuver within a society where basic misconceptions about migrants hinder their acceptance. They are not just encouraging migrants to become part of society, they are encouraging society to welcome migrants.

Today, we brainstormed ideas for a project proposal that will focus on just this issue: facilitating integration through greater cultural sensitivity and awareness. The ideas, which span the population from high schoolers to public officials, were inspired as much by professional experience as logic: surely public officials who work with migrants daily should have a basic knowledge of sensitive cultural issues?

Given the speed of proposal acceptance and funding, it will take some time before any of these ideas could come to fruition. Nonetheless, I am curious to know what effect, if any, these initiatives will have on correcting deep-rooted misconceptions.

Posted By Melinda Willis

Posted Jun 18th, 2004

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