It is already late morning. The coffee cup on my desk is now cold. I collect the last notes scattered here and there and look quickly at the time. I have to call. Just two rings - long and metallic - and immediately a female voice responds to me. Kind and firm. It is Rosaria D'Anna. We met a few months earlier in Rome, to talk about social policies and family. Like a volcano in Campania, her area of origin, she was immediately revealed herself to be a magma of ideas and proposals. So when I thought about an interview about the importance of charisma and leadership in today's society, I immediately thought of her, to let me tell you about her experience. Rosaria D'Anna has been National President for more than a year and a half of the AGE - Association of Parents in Italy. She is a wife, a mother of two girls, but above all a parent who is strongly aware and motivated by the importance of being an active part in the educational process of her children. And her vocation to family education is fully in line with her role as President of the Association of Parents in Italy.
Rosaria, Pope Francis in a general audience a few years ago, dedicated to charisms in the Church, said that the charismatic person is the one who has received a gift from grace, a gift that must be put forth as a service to all. Although the Pope refers to ecclesial institutions, the judgment also applies, in a broader sense, to every association that wants to serve the common good by means of a mission or by good use of a talent. How much do you recognize yourself in this sentence?
I am fully in agreement. Charisma is a gift that is starts at birth. Who has the grace to receive it, has the moral duty to put it to use in his social circles, to serve the common good, certainly not to command or do as they please on a whim. I do not know if I'm a charismatic person. I rather feel like an aggregating person, who works to unite his community. In my case, more than 5 thousand parents from all over Italy, are members of AGO, our association. My vision of Association is strongly collegial. I like to build common synergies, with collaborators and associates. The key is to be credible and always available . If we want to be a point of reference for others, we must first and foremost win their trust day by day, with concrete facts and not just words, upholding the commitment made. To always be on the ground, available and ready for dialogue in a perspective that is always proactive and decisive.
I agree with you. However any institution over time runs the risk of losing this "fire" that I now sense from you. In fact, the management of everyday life risks normalizing one's own mission and lessening the initial spirit. The danger is to lose creativity and ideas, stop producing content to become simple incubators of processes, bureaucracy and relationships. How can you avoid all this and keep a proper balance? Can you still be alive and creative in the production of ideas, contents and solutions for the community to which you refer after so many years?
The risk that an association with time loses its fire it had at the beginning absolutely exists. It's normal. The important thing is that it does not lose its way, its identity and that it does not betray its associates and the whole community of reference for pure political gain and convenience. Of course, sometimes, there is the risk of wasting time on paperwork and bureaucracy, taking away force and energy for the concrete realization of projects. What we must avoid is becoming an empty box, devoid of ideas, proposals and contents. Detachment from reality and survival as an end in itself is the death of any institution. To avoid this danger, from my position, I try as much as possible to create relationships with the territories, to understand their wants and needs. The A.G.E. was founded 50 years ago in the outskirts, not in the palaces, listening to problems and welcoming the initiatives of many parents and families. This is our mission, and this is what I want to continue doing.
Among the main tasks of a leader, there is certainly that of motivating and training young people, not only from the point of view of technical preparation, but also in the transmission of the mission, values and convictions. What is your idea of formation?
My idea of formation is very simple: to educate by example. I say this as a wife and mother. You cannot pretend to climb on a soapbox and start giving lectures on values and behavior. We simply need to set a good example ourselves. Young people, contrary to what is often thought, are very attentive to the behavior of their parents. I'll give you an example. If kids see their parents talking on the phone at the table during meals, it is sure that they will start to do it too. They will feel, as it were, implicitly authorized to do so. If instead they see that their parents do not bring their mobile phone to the table or keep at least keep it off the table itself, they will certainly expect a reprimand if they should use their phones at the table. It is not a matter of prohibiting one thing or not, but of simply setting an example. Saving conviviality at the table in the family, is just one of the many small gestures that a parent must do using common sense. I meet many people every day. And I realize more and more, with great regret, that families no longer speak. We do not read any more. We do not write any more. We do not look at ourselves anymore. We ignore each other. At most we call or send texts, perhaps from one room to another in the house. All this with an increasingly fragmented and unstructured language made up of only "yes, no, ok, ok", smilies and emoticons. We have to go back to the healthy and old way of talking from the past. My mission is to continually help these parents to understand that we are not doing well, we are not heading the right direction. We need to make them understand how many values and healthy behaviors we have lost along the way in the last generations , and how important it is to go back to talking between ourselves within the family.
Is there a hidden dream?
Among many ideas and projects that we have in progress, there is a dream: to get Italian schools back to the qualitative level of a few decades ago, when the teacher was a social reference figure for the whole community, respected by both pupils and parents. I'm talking about the school where the manual skills were taught, the simple one of the holiday cards or projects, Christmas crafts for example. Little projects that parents then hung up proudly in the living room. The dexterity of ancient traditions and know-how, which was of great help in the formation of character and virtues, now set aside from the dominant educational model in favor of a poor and unproductive notionism. But to do this we must go back to investing in and training teachers, often under paid, precarious and abandoned to guide themselves. We must fight for a better educational system, because the shaping of our children is the noblest goal of every society. I hope it does not remain just a dream.