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Agenzia Nazionale Politiche Attive del Lavoro European Commission

Storytelling: "Alberto and Leonidas"

In the Louvre Museum in Paris, there is a beautiful painting by Jacques-Louis David that represents a battle. It takes place in 480 BC: on the one side the Spartan troops, led by Leonidas, on the other, the Persian army. An unequal clash, with an already marked outcome: there were only 300 Spartans against many more Persians. Leonidas was aware that it was a suicide battle, but he still wanted to fight. David, fascinated by the legendary Spartans’ courage, decided to paint the picture to celebrate those brave warriors. At the center is Leonidas, who stands out above all the others. He wears no armour, only a helmet, a cloak, a shield, and a sword, ready to fight against a better organized and more numerous enemy.

So, like Leonidas and his soldiers, many young people, as mobile workers, have lived and are experiencing an exceptional, unexpected and difficult situation due to the Covid-19 emergency. We thought that it was time to get to know their stories, their motivations and share them.

Our journey through the stories of the young European mobile workers, starts with Alberto, 25 years old from Milan, currently engaged in a 6-month internship in Paris, thanks to the Your first EURES job project.

“I returned to Milan last 17th of March” - Alberto told us - “thanks to the sensitivity of my organization, which offered me the opportunity to live the quarantine with my family rather than in solitude here in Paris, and to continue my internship in smart working mode ". Alberto is doing his internship at the ICOM - International Council of Museums - an international organization that since 1946 represents museums and professionals and supports the world museum community in the task of preserving, conserving, and sharing the cultural heritage.

A goal - that of working in the area of cultural heritage - that Alberto has always pursued, exploiting the opportunities that the European institutions offer to those who, like him, wish to make an experience in an international context: “After the three-year degree in Cultural Heritage Sciences, I had an important experience in Spain at the University of Zaragoza thanks to the Erasmus programme (editor's note: the European Union Programme that allows university students to undertake a study period in Universities of other EU countries), but Paris was my favourite destination, a city with an huge artistic, historical and cultural heritage. I initially left for the French capital to deepen the study of the language, then, thanks to a Master's degree in Cultural Activities Management that I achieved in Rome, I took the opportunity to do an internship in a UNESCO office based in Venice ".

A passion - the one for the arts - born from the interest in music that his father, as a pianist active in the market of musical instruments, transmitted to him, taking him to the temple of lyrical music: the Scala of Milan. Over the years Alberto broadened his horizons by taking an interest in architecture, sculpture, and painting.

After his Master degree, the time has come when he has definitively decided to remain professionally in the managerial field of cultural heritage, studying Tourism Economics at the Bicocca University in Milan. Then, he left for Hong Kong for a new internship at the Italian Cultural Institute. The passion for travel and for the opportunities beyond national borders are grounded on his willing to know his family’s roots, travelling to Switzerland, Belgium, England and United States.

At the end of his pilgrimage, however, his search for new, more concrete job opportunities began, and it was precisely his university tutor that pointed out to him the benefits and possibilities that Your first EURES job 6.0 could offer him. Thanks to an announcement on a French web portal dedicated to job search in the cultural field, Alberto applied for an internship at the ICOM in Paris: “I had already met ICOM, who would become my future employer, during a conference that took place in Milan. I was one of their volunteers during the conference, and this certainly helped me in my approach to the Organization in the selective phases, of course, they evaluated my academic profile and my specific preparation ".

Alberto is currently working in the Communication Department, where he collaborates with 4 other employees who oversee different areas: his office reports directly to General Management. “Due to the health emergency and the smart working activities, the work has so far been carried out in a different way than usual" - Alberto told us - "and this year the two major events, have taken place, or will take place, digitally. One is the World Museum Day which was celebrated on June 18 # IMD2020, and the other, our annual international conference. This year everything was done online with activities open to everyone. For me, however, an opportunity to evaluate how useful online museum activities can be despite the emergency of the moment”.

Tomorrow - Alberto confided to us - is not predictable, especially because Coronavirus has affected the two areas most dear to him, tourism and the use of cultural heritage. In his future, however, he still sees Paris, where he would like to stay precisely because in this beautiful city he has found a personal and professional balance.

Before saying goodbye, we asked Alberto for advice for all those young Europeans who wish to follow his path: "There is no doubt, the most important thing is the knowledge of languages, starting with English of course. Solid cultural foundations and the ability and desire to know the world cannot be missing; for those like me who want to work in the promotion of cultural heritage, this experience abroad with YfEj is something that 'sets you apart' and is, above all, essential because only by working away from home, you can know the international market and other cultures: know what people, future visitors, expect from your country ".

In the photo, Alberto observes with interest the work of Jacques-Louis David "Léonidas aux Thermopyles", oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris.

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