Ramzi Harrabi: Immigrato Tunisio : mediare per la cultura per il cambiamento e per la pace.

Ramzi (left) consulting with a teacher in the classroom.

Ramzi Harrabi is a musician, a poet , cultural mediator and an immigrant from Tunisia, living in Italy.  While I have often reported on the difficulties that immigrants often face, Ramzi represents success—through determination and understanding of himself and those around him.  He interacts with his community in an open and honest way, which has earned him the trust and respect of many.  He took some time to answer some of my questions.  His perspective is a unique one: informed by his own experiences,  yet circumspect and  full of hope.

MR:How did you come to live in  Italy?

Well, Initially, I came here thinking that  I would only be staying a few months. I wanted to find my father and get documents as every body had said that Italy was planning an amnesty for all illegal immigrants.  I arrived from Germany where I had overstayed my visa. My idea was to come here to Sicily where my father who is an immigrant, would host me , wait a few months , get documents  and then travel again. But as you can see I m still here.

MR:You are well integrated into your community  now, aren’t you?

RH:Yes and I always was.  I think that  human beings have a natural tendency  to be part of any community where they are hosted.  I can  tell you it took me a couple of years for me to adjust mentally and to accept that Sicily was my new address.

MR:You are a cultural mediator, what are your views?

RH:I think that the most dangerous thing for  people today is the “ethnocentrism” , as it makes us think only to support who we belong to and become less rational in our operations and actions . That is why I try always to mediate  between cultures and try to help people around me to interact as one group and one global community, with a unique  goal of having  different perspectives . Planet earth is one and so is mankind. Humanity is a bit disorientated from this point of view, as generally  countries and communities  have acted to promote a culture of superiority and hostility towards others. Thus in turn leaving less space for curiosity and harmony .

So a cultural mediator is a person who acts as a bridge between two different people and helps them to absorb each others  perspective without prejudice  and with the advantage  of comprehension and tolerance.

Above all, you  should be a good listener , because listening is the most important criteria in communication. Furthermore, observing others, deciphering individuals and cultures and trying to accept them as they are is the key to constructive dialogue.

In my opinion , any human being who has this quality can happily be integrated and coexist in any social reality.

MR:You are the president of the council of immigrants in Sicily. What exactly  is your role?

RH:I spend more time trying to convince the Italian associations that are  part of the council to act with intercultural competence  and with less with the intention of charity.    We need  to help people with professionalism  and with the placing the right  figures in the right posts. Charity  is welcome but it is never enough, by itself,  in the process of integration.

As the council of immigrants we try to help the municipality to prepare its projects for the integration of neo-Italians and to train the figures that will work with immigrants plus a daily work of mediation, wherever it is requested.

Ramzi, out and about in the community

MR:What have you done that you are particularly proud of?

RH: “Futuro Inter-Culturale” is an educational project in an elementary school that I designed and managed  myself for the municipality . I also taught a few subjects related  to Islam, Arabic culture and ethnic music . I taught local kids a Tunisian song that they performed with me at the closing of the project;  today after 5 years they still sing it when they see me. It is an incredible feeling, knowing that I  left an imprint in their lives. I am pretty much sure that those kids ( around 70 of them ) would never willingly act with racism against any body.

Another great experience has been leading Arcadia University (MCAS) students in Tunisia and introducing  them to my homeland while helping them to discover the beauty of diversity, thus planting the roots with them for future peace  between the  USA and  Arabic nations.

MR: So, are you a singer , a painter or a poet? 

RH:I am simply a human being that is trying  to express certain feelings via Art. Communication is based on listening as I said earlier,  but also it is mainly based on tapping  in to people’s hearts and minds. So if you want to be listened to you should be able to reach those hearts and those minds.

MR: Well, said.  Thank you, Ramzi!


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2 thoughts on “Ramzi Harrabi: Immigrato Tunisio : mediare per la cultura per il cambiamento e per la pace.

  1. John Domini says:

    Compliments all round. It’s high time conversations like this started breaking down stereotypes of African immigrants in southern Italy.

  2. Thank you! Beautiful interview and person.

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