World School Forum in L’Aquila: “Everything is stationary.”
The students of the 21 delegations hosted by the “ITC Tosi” visit the red zone of the city in Abruzzo, to understand how to rebuild after an earthquake, but there is a lot of disappointment. The Japanese: “Everything has to be done.”
At the World School Forum, at the “Tosi” Technical and Commercial College, the talk is about “rebuilding after a disaster”, and here in Italy, there are several examples, maybe too many. The most famous of all is, without doubt, that of L’Aquila, in Abruzzo, which was struck, two years ago, by a violent earthquake.
And so, the 21 different delegations hosted by the school were taken to see the current state of rebuilding in the city. “When we entered the red zone,” explains Valeria, one of the “Tosi” students, who accompanied the foreign children in Abruzzo, “my blood froze; I imagined the city before and after, and it was upsetting.”
Instead of buildings that had risen up from their own rubble, rebuilt churches, shops with their shutters raised, and a city centre again teeming with life, the students from 21 different countries saw “a city that hadn’t changed since 6 April 2009.”
The roads are still full of rubble, and “in the shops in the city centre, the goods are still strewn about the floor,” said Elisa, who had been to Abruzzo in the summer of the earthquake; she could see little difference between then and now. The only visible change, is that “almost all the buildings have been shored up and made safe, and the tent city has gone.” When they talk about rebuilding, all of the ITC Tosi students smile.
“Schools and churches had been rebuilt, but the people now live in districts outside the city, in houses that are all alike, and they feel segregated.”
The rebuilding is plodding along, and the foreigner visitors noticed it. Especially one. “There’s also a group from Japan, but all they said was ‘the work is way behind schedule.” It would have been very difficult to explain why the work in L’Aquila is so far behind, to those who “had recovered very quickly” after a violent earthquake and a devastating tsunami.
All the same, the groups of students were greatly struck by what they saw in the red zone of the Abruzzo city. Upset, devastated and shocked were some of the adjectives they used to describe to their companions, what they felt while walking through the streets of a ‘city centre that was frozen’, and not because of the temperature”, explained Martina.
And in Abruzzo, the students also met a lot of people of their own age, and differences were not so evident. “Today, they’re calm and quiet,” and are trying to find the normality that was lost in the rubble.
“They’re adapting to the new situation, trying to rebuild their lives,” explained Alessandro, the last of the 4 “Tosi” delegates. “For example, they spend their evenings all in the same bar, as it’s the only one open.”
But all the students agree on one thing. “The 6 April earthquake is still an open wound,” and nobody knows how long it will take for it, finally, to heal.