Before starting our year at the School in the World we must get ready. Here you’ll find out how we did it. From the books we’ve read, to the associations or people we’ve contacted or interviewed before leaving, from the courses we’ve attended, to the physical activity we’ve done to start off in shape. From documents to vaccines, from the things to pack to those we had to leave at home. Everything we needed to prepare for the Worldschooling, because a trip begins the moment you think about it.
Phase 2: the uncertainty of what comes next and the social recovery
After a disaster we always see a phenomenon: that of polarizations. History teaches us that. In my opinion there will be two extremes that will develop in the aftermath, a fickle future, uncertain and improvised.
It’s true, we Italians are good at improvising, and during uncertain times our creativity comes out, but as even Francesco Rotondi highlighted in his article published on the Economist on May 7th, at the moment those who govern our country seem to lack a strategic vision, an organizational vision, and a system vision, and in my opinion we risk facing a pop quiz in the classroom without ever having opened the textbook, hoping that someone will pass us the answers from under the desk, we could have a stroke of luck or a sudden breakthrough, but the risk of failing is quite high.
Aside from not having a clear plan in terms of economic recovery, there is also no plan for the social recovery. Here too we could find ourselves facing two extremes: on one side the desire to go back to being together, perhaps reactivating the virus, and on the other side the distrust which will lead us to retreat within our borders and walls.
Opening instead of closing will be strategic for a social recovery that makes way to the future
To me, going beyond the time of the Coronavirus means to be open instead of closed, learning new ways to be in the world instead of complaining about what is not working. Creating new connections and new relationships, rediscovering that famous common destiny that Edgar Morin spoke of in his planetary concept, and finding together good solutions to that destiny by focusing on global issues, like climate and jobs, perhaps solving them precisely using Artificial Intelligence well.
During the Coronavirus we discovered that the Internet does not make us stupid, but that, instead, it can make us smarter: from the appropriate use of Social Media to all types of free courses that in this period we have been able to attend, to study and rediscover the meaning of continuous training and our own responsibility towards the use of technology. Of course, you need to know the tools, have adequate infrastructures and fast connections, but we tasted a “good” piece of what instead seemed like a bitter mouthful to digest: the digital. We can start from here, and take advantage of that sense of planetary to use technology and Artificial Intelligence in favor of the environment, jobs and people’s happiness.
To me, the afterwards, will imply completely reconsider my life, my relationship with time, with money, with things, but above all rediscovering how good it feels to be with my son Alessandro, and above all how I am preparing him to become a citizen of the world, responsible and able to contribute positively to the society which we live in.
Covid19 did bring something good to me, it made me understand the importance of good relationships and bonds, and it further strengthened in me the feeling of how important it is to open up rather than shutting out, to build trust instead of doubts, understanding instead of dullness. The outside world has changed for everyone, but for many it has also changed within. I wish to see this change out there with my own eyes, I want to understand what has changed, I want to understand what people have learned, I want to understand whether it will predominate the sense of distrust or that of connection.
People will remember what you do, not what you say
We know very well that our children won’t remember what we tell them, but what we leave them is the legacy of the things we do and how we live. How I am experiencing my Coronavirus is what my son will understand about the Coronavirus. I have always told him that opening up to the world is important, that curiosity is the real strength of human, and I tried to make him experience this first hand every time we took a flight to explore a small piece of the world. How long do I have to open his eyes and his mind? I believe that many parents wonder this as well, and this thought has gradually strengthened itself as I continued in my travels within places, within things and within people. With my job but also with my relationships outside the office, without my Human Resources Director badge on.
I have always read and written a lot, I used to do it just for myself – until recently. Then I decided that I wanted many people to become acquainted with my thoughts and with what I was getting passionate about: people and technology, artificial intelligence and emotional intelligence.
A somewhat exotic union for a Human Resources Director, that of being passionate about Artificial Intelligence. To me, instead, seemed like logical consequence: if people are my passion, so much so as to lead me to want to earn a second degree in psychology in 2016 while working, it’s obvious that I’d be interested in what will become of people in the future and what role will the machines have in their lives. Does technology make us dumber or smarter? More connected or more alienated even from ourselves?
The step towards the publication of my first book was the logical epilogue of two years of study. I left for Paris, I did a home exchange in full Bridget-Jones style and there, between baguettes and internet cafes, in two weeks I wrote half a book, which I would complete four months later in Namibia. Places have not only always accompanied my discovery, but have been the undisputed protagonists of my writing.
Words explode inside the heart if they don’t find a piece of paper to rest on.
I don’t know who said it, maybe Shakespeare or maybe someone else, but it doesn’t matter. Writing allows you to know, to get to know yourself first but also others; publishing a book was a knowledge and travel experience at its finest: I traveled within myself, I returned to places of my past, I experienced the vintage style of the 80s and 90s, and explored future ones. I built networks and established relationships that were unthinkable up to that moment, like when I went to Barbara Mazzolai’s laboratory and I could see for myself the Plantoid I had written about in my book, or when I was able to get to know Nerio Alessandri personally and to hear him talk about the well being vision that Technogym wants to spread around the world. While writing my book I traveled not only within places, but increasingly within things and within people, within dreams and within hopes. It was like getting onboard the little curiosity train, the ones you find at village fairs, and I never got off from it.
I thought that once my beautiful book was going to be published, with its pretty cover of the blue ostrich winking, my curiosity would subside, that I could go back to a “normal” life, the one without books, without research, without the constant desire to explore further. But this didn’t happen.
After publishing my book, I thought that my curiosity would stop, instead it started to burn even more.
It was now the time for book presentations and some newspaper articles, and then in the middle of my little tour, the Coronavirus. Everything stops. The only thing that didn’t stop seemed to be my mind. I kept thinking that I wanted to explore more, that I had to put in play every day the additional skills that I had acquired and what I had learned.
I liked what I had explored with the book, and what gave me the greatest satisfaction was learning new things and finding ways to make those things useful to others. I found myself, like many other parents out there, suddenly confronted with the school curriculum and the textbooks, the same ones that I had picked up only once when I had opened the Amazon package in September 2019 and that I had immediately handed to the babysitter so that she could have them covered so that they would not get ruined. All sorted on the shelf and with the title on them, I had not dared do anything else, I found myself for the first time browsing through them trying to understanding what my son was actually studying.
Then the instructor threw it at the bottom of the Cessna and said “Your turn”. Crap. My turn. Should I jump or not?
There are times when you feel you have to do something more, those in which you have something inside of you that’s about to explode and that if you don’t let it out it will make you implode. After 46 years, I felt that drive within me that made me say: it’s either now or never.
Recently I’ve been asked in an interview about my project why “now or never” and if without Coronavirus I would have come to the same conclusion. Honestly, I don’t know. There are times when you feel it, you don’t know why right now, but you know it couldn’t be any other way. Period. What I knew in that moment is that if you don’t seize that “never again” moment… you are fucked, because the moment passes and you return on the famous hamster wheel, even if I felt so weighed down that to me it seemed like the wheel of the elephant.
Then you jump. And holy crap, you realize that you’re not wearing a parachute. Well, actually you do have it but you don’t know if you will be able to open it in time. It was the same feeling I had when I went skydiving alone for the first time twenty years ago after only three hours of theory. While I was sitting with my buttocks on the edge of that Cessna in a more or less indefinite place near Cape Town, while I felt the cold plates on my back and the wind on my face that came from the open hatch I thought: it’s either now or never again.
At that moment I prayed “Jesus, I swear, protect me, and I promise you that this will be the last bullshit ever of my life!”. I have to say it like it is: what I was doing was much more than a stunt: alone in South Africa, nobody knew where I was, with only three hours of theory, and a questionable skydiving school, just like the parachute on my back.
I looked at the sky in front of me, because I could not look higher, the clouds were below me, the sun of that South African 3rd of July dazzled me and when you have the clouds below instead of above, you realize that turning your eyes upwards at four thousand feet, is different than doing it from your home garden. Then I jumped. I still feel the cold air that entered from under my sweatshirt, the harness of the parachute that held my thighs and I thought “Let’s hope it won’t slip off my legs when I open it”.
I don’t know how many thoughts ran through my mind, I only had twenty seconds before pulling that string, technically in twenty seconds you don’t have much time to think, but instead I seem to have had time to think about everything, how I would have smashed myself, that I was flying free in the sky, how my parents would never know how I disappeared because at the time I didn’t have a cellphone and nobody knew about that crazy stunt I was pulling, but I also thought about how nice it was to be free to fly.
I thought about my father, how proud he would have been, as a paratrooper, of my first launch, about my grandfather, he too had been a paratrooper, I thought of a lot of stuff, and I still wonder how you can think of so many things in just twenty freaking seconds.
You quit your job without having another one lined up, and decide to travel the world while outside of your front door a pandemic has just showed up. Well, this time I didn’t feel my buttocks on the plates of a Cessna but I had them on my comfortable sofa, and yet the sensation of jumping into the void was the same of twenty years ago.