Community Blog

Professor Giuseppe Balirano at Università degli Studi di Napoli L’Orientale

How does your day look like?
‘At the moment my life is a mess he says jokingly. I work from 8 in the morning till 8 at night, when I am not travelling. It feels I am always working. I used to work at night too, but I am getting too tired. Too many projects for work, I travel a lot. We have to integrate teaching and professional work at the university, visiting and speaking at conferences, going abroad (USA Rhode Island, Potenza, Porto, Spain in July, etc.). And traveling back to supervise theses. I am always behind schedule’.

Is it possible to find work in your area?
‘For students finishing with a degree in Naples it is possible. They complete their finals, most of them find work in translating in AVT (Audio Visual translation), think of Netflix and Sky. Some of them find work in tourism, especially the cruise boats. Some try to achieve a university career or start the process of becoming a teacher for 2 more years. And some will go abroad’.

What do you think of the situation in Southern Italy?
‘The situation becomes worse and worse. I don’t see any change for the future. Most young people prefer to leave to Northern Italy to find a living. There are no jobs for anybody. Based on recommendations you might find something, but the system is crooked. The mafia and the camorra have a hand in this’.

Describe family life in Southern Italy
‘Here in the south, family life is a lot different than in other parts of (Northern) Europe. Street life is vivid and family bands are strong [high context based]. Relationships are so different here: marriages are important and plenty in the south, there are still many. People do not have that many children anymore as in the old days because providing food for everybody is hard, but marriages are still popular and traditional. Also, for the LBGT community. By law it is difficult but there is a way to get married in a way. The idea of family is very strong in the south and the rate of marriages is high’.

What are you good at? What are you proud of or makes you proud?
‘Being a father makes me proud. In my professional career, most of the time I try to find out how to bring out the best of them [students] for a career, how to train them and prepare them in life in general.

I am not good at soccer, I am good at writing, the dissemination of knowledge through books. That is the best part of it. Teaching was my most beloved subject but not anymore’.

Where would you prefer to live?
‘I like Italy, especially the south. Perhaps Rome. I would like to stay in Europe, perhaps Spain? Of maybe Portugal. I have to think about it’.

What could be reached with our programme together?
‘Visibility of abandoned villages, to attract tourism in deserted places, key point is to help shrinking areas. Help them grow back, providing facilities to help them grow so that the population will stay stable and stays in their country’.

You train people and pass them on to Northern Europe [Jacomien]? ‘Yes, we need them here. Also, to show them [young people] there is a possibility here: tourism, ancient features that are part of our country and culture, anthropology, the feeling that we are part of a heritage, founded in the very idea of Europe. It will be lost very soon. The way of living in you and you take it to Northern Europe or anywhere else’.

What would you like to change? What has to change?

‘The mentality. The government first and then within the population. Unfortunately, we only teach skills at the universities. The most important we leave out: critical thinking and they [young people] start thinking in possibilities, a real change has to come from the government. Here, the public initiative has been lost. There are few private initiatives. Start thinking we have a change and means to do that. Think of the start-up culture in The Netherlands [Jacomien]. New possibilities to invent new jobs. We need the fantasy [and creativity – Jacomien] of southerners’.

When do you have to bite your teeth, when are things difficult?
‘There is a sort of immobility here in Italy, an eternal mud. Everything is impossible. Institutions are a muddy soil, everything is bureaucratic. You need to go to too many offices. It is difficult to train people to look beyond it. We need non-interference from the government but also the camorra. We know the real problem, but we fail to address it. There is no boost towards legal work. Black labour is not the only possible way to do things. We need a life with dignity.

There is enough inspiration from the south. The camorra can be fought. That is the real problem. The more you sink in mud, these muddy waters, self-initiative is impossible. It is a matter of mentality, we lack this. We have to start from scratch. The support from the EU is not felt. What about this so called United Europe? Jokingly, what is the number I have to dial for Europe (Eisenhower)?’