Cultural Mediation A professional profile based on field experience

The first courses were structured in the following way; introductory points to render operative the function of a mediator, to formulate a real definition of the role and function and to outline the limits, or in other words create a reference picture capable of defining and describe the professional function of a cultural mediator. Not speaking of the prior introduction of the service in the northern Italy several years before, five years have passed since this process started in other parts of the country, a very difficult path since the role of a mediator was still unknown.

It has been a tiresome course characterised by many obstacles and little comprehension by various institutions (due to lack of information and to prejudice towards immigrants), but also from the same associations that had offered space where to practice our profession. In the course of these years, the practical job of mediators has had a time and space of insertion and experimentation; it has taken a large and diversified sensitisation modality where, starting from observation efficient to comprehend sensibility of various functionaries working in social-health services, it has been arrived at organizing courses for their formation in this regard. We, cultural mediators with our professional effort, our ability to act with passion and good will, have put in action our own characteristics of the profession of a cultural mediator.

We have moreover examined all the technical aspects of the role and the fundamental elements required to adequately attend to the services.

This way with our tenacious and generous collaboration we have prepared a territory capable of job creating and improving the quality and quantity of services at the same time. For what we have done, we expected both from associations and institutions more respect of our rights and a more awareness and acknowledgement; instead today we live in a reality in which institutions and some persons or groups always trying to seek personal interests are working towards dismissing us from the field with an excuse of questionable competence or re-qualification, creating in such a way a critical situation that, in my opinion, does not improve the professionalism or the performance of mediators.

In believe, moreover, that this thought of ideology filled interests lead to more obstacles when the necessity is instead that of harmonising roles and finding the right connection between various professional ties aimed at favouring a multiethnic and multicultural society.

We believe that to go towards an intercultural society in a healthier and a more precise way by means of an integration model adapted to the needs and requirements of Italy, it would be necessary to proceed in confrontation with cultural mediation according to the following criteria: 1. Greater acknowledgment of the role and more rights and space for mediators that have worked in all these years acquiring a lot of experience, offering them more possibilities to adequate refresher courses adapted to the requirements of their services.

2. Specifying typologies of cultural mediators’ formation courses and for cultural interaction, whose participants should belong to ethnic-cultural groups present in Italy since they have a direct experience of immigration. I think in fact, based on my formative and working experience, that in order to form a mediator, a course at least 500 hours or best between the 500 and 1200 hours is necessary, featuring interpersonal and intercultural communication topics, some bases of anthropology and psychology and familiarising on institutional norms and laws of social - health services.

3. Helping mediators to organize themselves in groups or associations, creating an organism at a national, regional level and forming network groups with various service sectors in case of necessity. All this does not mean that we are against university courses or studies open to Italians and foreigners on cultural interaction and on mediation. These studies, as we have believed and said some time ago, are useful and important in forming staff capable of managing or directing cultural interaction in the society and to reinforce the professional quality of mediators, but it is important that these university courses are not to be considered as the obligatory criteria required to exercise the profession of a cultural mediator.

Thought that way, such studies are an instrument to favouring harmony between Italians and foreigners or between various roles without to denying the rights or efforts of everyone, in order to find ourselves again on the road towards a development of a healthier and richer society from and in the diversity. To improve the professionalism of mediators does not mean in our opinion to deny actual foreign mediators the possibility to continue to work without discrimination, or to create B and A series mediators.

To improve the work of mediation does not mean to cancel a natural course of acknowledgment of a mediator’s function (now half-way the road in Italy). Cultural mediators ask all Italian institutions and associations to concentrate efforts to develop a diversity fear-free model of integration and without placing before the idea of security on the immigration phenomenon; a phenomenon by now of international recognition conditioned by social - economic situation at a world-wide level that must balance the distribution of development resources between the North and the South of the world.

By a cultural mediator

Roma 22-12-2002
Abdul Latif Al Saadi