Rondine Morning Future 3
Inspiring Best Practice 22 March Mar 2019 0730 22 March 2019

Rondine, the leaderships incubator

For twenty years, in this Tuscan town, young people from war countries try out the creative transformation of conflict. A “method” that has now reached the UN.

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To enter Rondine, you must have written "enemy" in the curriculum. Franco Vaccari, who is the founder and president of the Rondine Cittadella della Pace Association, says it without any turn of phrase: “We accept young people who come from places of war. The requirement to come to Rondine is: "To be the enemy of someone else". If you're not an enemy, you're not in Rondine”. Russians and Chechens, Pakistanis and Indians, Palestinians and Israelis ... in twenty years more than 200 young people have entered as enemies in this small medieval town in the province of Arezzo, emerging - two years later - transformed into peace leaders. An example is Maria Karapetyan, a young Armenian who attended Rondine Cittadella della Pace in the two-year period 2013/2015: having returned to her country she became a civil rights activist and after only two years was one of the figureheads of the Armenian velvet revolution. Today she is in Parliament and can change the history of her country. To support paths like Maria’s the Rondine Association has launched the Leader for Peace manifesto. It did so from the United Nations building on December 10th, at the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It asked all countries to remove from the defense budget the figure corresponding to one piece of weaponry, and instead to move it to the training of a peace leader: Italy was the first country to sign. In fact, after twenty years of experience, the “Rondine method” has matured into an “alternative” leadership model, by teaching how to face conflict and manage it, and by developing new relational models and working on specific skills.

We accept young people who come from places of war. The requirement to come to Rondine is: "To be an enemy of someone else

Franco Vaccari, founder and president of the Rondine Cittadella della Pace Association

The "Rondine method" has been the subject of a research carried out by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan and by the University of Padua, published in the volume Dentro il conflitto, oltre il nemico. "Rondine offers the world a new universal method for the creative transformation of conflicts with recognized scientific efficacy," said President Vaccari. “You need great strength to look beyond the wounds of hate and the poison of enmity, to become bringers of a hope that frees the future from the weight of the past, that generates a change in interpersonal relationships, imagines future, progressive cultural and political relapses. A hope that creates concrete alternatives, starting from the question that constitutes the untouchable nucleus of being (which could be defined as the “right/obligations” we all have): “What can I do?”, “What can we do?”. An interview with Luca Alici, curator of the volume

Luca Alici, curator of "Dentro il conflitto, oltre il nemico"

What is Rondine? You say that it is neither just a place of justice, nor simply a laboratory of peace, but rather a "political incubator"…
Rondine is a place where you descend into the depths of mankind and rediscover the common "grammar" of the human being: this makes it possible for everyone to find something meaningful for their lives. Specifically, the idea of defining it as a "political incubator" stems in part from my "professional bias" (I teach political philosophy), but above all from the attempt to link Rondine's experience to a new claim to the primacy of politics as an experience of being between and being within. Rondine takes care of a "way" of looking at politics that still today is not able to "breathe and feed themselves", especially in the countries of origin of the kids at the World House. And it does it "only" for a period, thus turning over young citizens ready to go back to life together.

Rondine is a place where the common "grammar" of the human is rediscovered. It is an experience of "being with

Luca Alici, professor of political philosophy

And what do you mean with the "creative transformation of conflict"?
Technically it is the expression with which Franco Vaccari places himself in the wake of some of the great schools of transformation of the conflict, highlighting however the specificity of Rondine: cohabitation, deconstruction of the enemy, generativity of the conflict, social planning. More generally we could say that it is how Rondine tells its mission, dedicated to distinguishing "violence" and "war" through a rethinking of the theme of conflict that is part of the rediscovery of trust: reintroducing doses of trust in relationships does not mean evading the conflict, but to transform the outlook on the conflict, to justify a positive approach to it. Our research in this sense has highlighted the value of crossing the conflict, "measuring" the changes that articulate the relationship between identity and community and "verifying" the generative scope of the categories of restorative justice outside a penal context.

What does Rondine also say to those who are not expressly interested in the theme of peace and coexistence?
First of all, no one can ignore the theme of peace and coexistence, because the challenge of peaceful coexistence must concern everyone and must go back to involving every individual. Secondly, the encounter between cohabitation and peace runs the risk of ending up under a blanket of rhetoric and from this it must be saved: peace as an absence of war is possible, peace as an elimination of violence, perhaps not. Therefore, coexistence is the construction of a difficult balance, which must be continually renewed, because it has never been definitively acquired, like the promise of love between two spouses. And to do this it is necessary to believe that human beings live in the way of connecting and not dividing, repairing and not throwing away.

What are the specific skills that the kids at Rondine learn and what is the heart of the proposed training course?
I would like to answer that Rondine does not develop skills but deconstructs deception and makes knowledge grow. Beyond the provocation, I believe that one of the issues is right here: alongside a path that, thanks to the relationships that Rondine has with a series of Italian universities, each student steps on to complete their own personal itinerary of studies (degree or master), everyone is called above all to live the training course of Rondine, which first of all is an opportunity for meeting and cohabitation project. In this fairly long time (two years) and in a common space (the village) we reach the heart of a rediscovery of the common humanity, child of a more authentic knowledge of oneself and of the other.

Is this a reproducible method, which has value today for society even beyond the small numbers of those arriving in Rondine? In other words, could or should Rondine become a replicable model?
This, as we reach twenty years, is Rondine's challenge and the reason why in the text we always quote the expression "Rondine method": a real crossroad. Of course Rondine is a place and will never be other places. It's about understanding what is "repeatable" and how. At the moment it is certainly "replicable" a message that has transformed the utopian illusion into a possible reality. From here on it is a question of really understanding what to entrust to the lives of people who feel they are besieged by conflict or possessed by a conflict they do not realize, and thus turn this experience into a testimony for all.

Rondine does not mature skills but deconstructs deception and grows knowledge

Luca Alici, professor of political philosophy

Rethinking leadership means moving from an exclusive focus on oneself to restore energy and planning to others' eyes

Luca Alici, professor of political philosophy

What is the peculiar new leadership model that emerges from Rondine? You writes that from the "Rondine method" one can take "the awareness of one of the most important trends for the near future; uniting knowledge and competence with human and relational development will be the new frontier of how human beings, to stay such, are called from now on to live. If even now rethinking leadership means moving from an exclusive focus on oneself to restoring energy and planning to the gaze of others, in the future of robots only the (really huge) space for an authentic service to people will remain human”. Can you explain this?
Two levels are involved, which I personally believe Rondine can bring together in a fruitful way. The first concerns what has been in the Citadel's mission from day one: to shape tomorrow's leaders. That is, to train young people who know how to play mature leadership roles, with different eyes on the past and the future, in countries condemned by hatred. This profile was immediately understood in a political sense (ambassadors, government figures, prime ministers and ministers). The second concerns the way in which, especially starting from the world of organizations (and here it must be noted that some models of economy and business organization are at this time more prophetic than politics), we are trying to rewrite the figure of the leader: from command to proximity, from those who enslave or oppress, to those who make the value of those who are at their side known. Here, if Rondine will be able to broaden the view of leadership - from political to civil and entrepreneurial - and if, by doing this, it will be able to give back to the world and to their young countries, capable of becoming a credible model of relational development of people, then it will be one less barrier for a society increasingly striving to reduce humankind to a bundle of functions.

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