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Can cultural diplomacy succeed where politics has failed?

Studying abroad is the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that many of us yearn for, but in 2019 an Italian medical student, Riccardo Corradini, decided to take Erasmus a step further, becoming the first European student to travel to a war zone. .

He was in his final year of medicine at the University of Siena when he decided to take the plunge and move to Gaza for his Erasmus internship to learn war surgery.

The decision was far from simple. To enter the territory, he needed permission from three different authorities: the Israeli army, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

Tell an unlikely story

Today, Corradini’s extraordinary journey is on the big screen after the release of the documentary “Erasmus in Gaza” in early December. The film follows the student’s physical and emotional journey, swapping sleepy Siena for one of the world’s most dangerous places.

As the bombs rained down, the Italian student struggled with anxiety and panic attacks, however, his dream of becoming a war surgeon propelled him forward. In addition, he had a thesis to complete on explosive bullet wounds and, tragically, Gaza provided the perfect case studies.

Directors Chiara Avesani and Matteo Delbò chose to continue Corradini’s story because being a student without deep-seated preconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict gave way to a new take on an old tale.

Study abroad as a tool for peace

Speaking to Euronews, Delbò said he created the critically acclaimed film with one question in mind: “Can cultural diplomacy fill the void left by political diplomacy that has completely failed in its mission?”

Avesani described how in this context “the Erasmus program is like a tool for peace” because it reflects European identity.

“It’s like opening new horizons both for Riccardo and for the people of Gaza. They are completely isolated, they live in a prison and they don’t know what it means to meet a ‘foreigner’ so Corradini represents that, he embodies the Western world that they have never known,” she added.

The young student thinks that studying alongside people from different parts of the world is extremely positive, as it can unite people despite cultural differences.

“It means getting to know each other, and when we get to know each other, we are not afraid of each other, and when there is no fear, there is no war” .

Thinking about the ongoing war in Ukraine, Corradini thinks all wars are the same; they are a disease that can affect anyone anywhere.

To hear the interview, please click on the player icon above.

euronews Gt

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