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Interview with the winners of the "Alfiere della Repubblica" certificates of honor

The best youth

By Francesca Parravicini

In spite of those who believe the opposite, there are a lot of virtuous examples of young people who manage to do something meaningful even in difficult times. Let’s get to know two little, extraordinary women.

"Hadn't I once a youth that was lovely, heroic, fabulous, something to write down on pages of gold? - I was too lucky!" From Morning, Arthur Rimbaud

Youth is often a battleground. A land of approximation. Young people are all listless, devoid of ideals, "big babies", they just want to party. They seem to be a separate category of people, but, sooner or later we are all young. And we often forget how difficult it can be, a time of passage, of profound change, of great confusion, in the Italian context, deeply ignored.

And in this crazy era of pandemic, young people are even more confused, worried about the future and immersed in the discomfort caused by isolation, among the thousand shadows and lights of the DAD. It’s easy to write heart-wrenching stories about these young people who are in disarray. Yet, among the thousand objective difficulties they have faced, absolutely normal during last year, there are many examples of girls and boys who have exploited this difficult period to grow sprouts of hope, with minute but impactful actions.

Examples that have been awarded by the State, with the "Alfiere della Repubblica" certificates of honor, conferred by the President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella to 28 young people who have distinguished themselves in this difficult year for courageous and supportive actions.

Let’s get to know two young girls who have received this recognition.

Luisa Rizzo, 18, resident in San Pietro in Lama (LE)

Motivazion for the certificate: for the commitment and skill shown in piloting drones. Although forced on a wheelchair, she managed to achieve speed records and also to make very original and appreciated films on the beauties of her land, Salento;

How did you experience the pandemic year? What were your fears/reactions?

2020 was a difficult year, I had to undergo spinal surgery in France and when I got home we were all in lockdown. I was a little scared like everyone else, but I faced the period quite calmly. Being able to continue practicing my sport, with all the precautions, has given me even more strength.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

You have received a certificate that rewards the value of courage: what does it mean for you?

Throughout my life I have always tried to overcome my limits and I will continue to do so, because this allows me to grow and improve myself. For this you need courage. Courage is the drive, that pinch of madness, which makes you overcome fears. Having courage also means always putting yourself on the line.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

DAD, the pros and cons: what do you think? What is your relationship with study?

I am attending the last year of high school, which I have dealt with so far staying in DAD. I hoped to be able to attend classes, together with my class mates, because these are moments that will never come back. I have tried to look at advantages that DAD can offer, such as the convenience of being at home, but being able to going to school is always better, juwt to leave the house and change environment.

Studying in DAD, I tend to spend most of the day in the same room, and over time this starts to weigh. I have always enjoyed studying, but a period like this also makes studying stressful and tiring.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

What are the things that have given you strength and comfort in this year?

Having my family around gave me strength in a year like this. The support of the people I care about is very important to me. I was also able to practice my sport, drone racing, participating in the Italian championship, even managing to win. This gave me even more motivation to give my best in any situation.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

What would you say to those who think that young people are all bored and listless? How do you see your peers?

It’s not true that all young people are bored and listless. There are many young people who want to do things, have many projects and they are working to make them happen. There are also young people who do not know what to do and maybe they need to try different things, to have motivation. We all need motivation. My peers and I have a great responsibility: to bring hope for the future and try to make the world better, even for those who will come after us.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

Universe drones: tell us a little about this sport and how you used it to capture the beauty of your land. Was it easy to practice it in this difficult year?

Drone racing is a sport born a few years ago, still in development. It's like Formula 1, but with drones! The goal is to run on tracks full of obstacles, at very high speed and in FPV (first person view). Flying in first person is like being on board the drone, which becomes an extension of the body. In addition to the adrenaline and the strong emotions that one feels going so fast, flying with a drone gives above all the feeling of freedom. It is precisely this freedom that allows me to overcome my limits.

When I'm not running, however, I like to take advantage of the possibilities that drones offer me to make videos. It is wonderful to be able to shoot in the area to enhance it, or to make very dynamic films, such as chasing a motorcycle. In this pandemic year I feared it would be more difficult to fly, but fortunately we have found the right solutions.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

How do you see your future? Do you have an optimistic approach?

I don't know what to expect from the future, but I want to be optimistic. I try to set myself goals to achieve, I hope my dreams will come true and I will work to make this happen. I would like to be able to work in the world of cinema, combining my passion for flying and drones with that of cinematography.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da Luisa Rizzo - LeoOnFire (@luisarizzo02)

Martina Di Vardo, 17 years old, resident in Castel di Lama (AP)

Motivation for the certificate: for the commitment and sense of solidarity with which she prepared shows that featured children in difficulty. For the qualities and sensitivity expressed in her poetry.

Tell us a little about your last year, in what state of mind did you spend it?

The pandemic year was a difficult year for me as it was for everyone. What I missed the most was socializing and attending dance and theater activities, which were a way to release stress and express my emotions. However, I tried to see the positive side, finding time to live everyday life, fixing the house, cooking with my mother… It was almost fun. My fears were mostly about the virus and I suffered a lot in not seeing my relatives for a long time, especially my grandparents: I really missed the family lunches and the moments spent together.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚊 𝙳𝚒 𝚅𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚘 ♡ (@martidiva_)

You have received a certificate that rewards the value of courage: what does this means for you?

The news came unexpectedly and it was an indescribable emotion. As soon as I discovered that I had become Alfiere della Repubblica I did not know what it meant, but then I understood the importance of this honor and the incredible fact that it had only been given to twenty-eight young people in all of Italy. Reading the words of the President of the Republic was moving, I did not know that normal things could be rewarded. This honor means a lot to me, it’s the recognition of my commitment over the years.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚊 𝙳𝚒 𝚅𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚘 ♡ (@martidiva_)

How did you experience the dreaded DAD? What is your relationship with study in general?

In general, I cannot compare DAD to face-to-face teaching, because there is no real contact with teachers and the empathy that can be created with students. At a distance, the teacher is unable to understand well what the problems of each individual student are and whether they have learned the lessons, however in a critical situation such as the pandemic the DAD has helped us to continue with our studies.

A positive side was the new teaching method and the different types of tests, they were interesing. For me, study is always the priority, I attend a rather demanding school, but I try to organize myself to carry on my passions as well.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚊 𝙳𝚒 𝚅𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚘 ♡ (@martidiva_)

What brought you strength and comfort in difficulties?

The thing that has given me the most strength in these two years of pandemic is to rediscover the importance of being with my family, staying at house and doing the chores that I did not have time to do before. My comfort has been to always think positive, knowing that this period will end sooner or later.

How do you respond to those who reduce young people to simple stereotypes?

Not being able to enjoy sports, hobbies and not being able to go out with friends as before, it is normal to get bored but I see my peers trying to do as much as possible to stay active, even at home. Obviously there are those who get discouraged, but in my opinion both teachers and parents have worked hard to try to keep interest and enthusiasm alive, thinking about the time when everything will return to normality.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚊 𝙳𝚒 𝚅𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚘 ♡ (@martidiva_)

You do volunteer work, theater and poetry. Do you think that art has a therapeutic value in difficulties?

I think it is very important to have passions and to do everything to cultivate them because, especially in this period, they give the strength to start over: they have a therapeutic value, they help you to distract yourself from what is happening around you.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚊 𝙳𝚒 𝚅𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚘 ♡ (@martidiva_)

How do you imagine your future? What colors do you paint it with?

I am an optimistic person, I always look for the positive side of things and, even if this period has brought us a lot of suffering, it has enriched us in a sense. For the future I would like to continue doing theater and dance because they are activities that I am very passionate about, I would also like to work in the medical field and in particular with children. Surely, in my future I will continue to help people in difficulty, because knowing that I can count on someone is a reassuring and beautiful thing.

 
 
 
 
 
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Un post condiviso da 𝙼𝚊𝚛𝚝𝚒𝚗𝚊 𝙳𝚒 𝚅𝚊𝚛𝚍𝚘 ♡ (@martidiva_)