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Saturday March 3, 2007

Canada: Research has found its natural habitat

ITALIAN IMMIGRANTS FLEEING TOWARDS THE NORTH AMERICAN COUNTRY NUMEROUS YOUNG MINDS HAVE SETTLED IN ONTARIO AND ALL OVER

Claudio Castagnetta is one of those so called "eloping minds" - highly discussed current phenomenon in Italy – even though the nature of his involvement in this matter cannot be compared to the one of a researcher. He left Sicily in October of 2002 with Canada as his final destination, bringing along an Italian Master and a great need to accomplish himself. His first step in the process was applying for a Marketing Master-MBA at the Université Laval of Quebec. Through this path he was able to get closer to the world of the Canadian market. "Us students are constantly involved in jobs commissioned by agencies and local public corporations. We feel we are the main actors and not simple auditors of the numerous notions we acquire in the institution".

His story follows: "Between 2005 and 2006 I worked for the Italian Chamber of Commerce, as Quebec's office director. Concomitantly I was also the promoter of Canadian corporations with the intent of opening their market to Italy and subsequently of Italian ones also eager to create opportunities in this Land. I was and still am a bridge or just simply a mediator between the Countries in matters of business connections. I even collaborated for a Canadian TV which hosted a show in Palermo on Sicilian cuisine. Recently I resigned from my position at the Chamber of Commerce to dedicate myself fully on mediatory activities as I'm currently involved in a project which focuses on the construction of a marketing brochure aiming at the promotion of rural, social and agro alimentary tourism in Sicily. A land of spectacular natural resources which, due to the poor promotion of such, suffers in grasping the global importance it deserves. Further more, there is a high demand of Made in Italy by the North American market. In order to accomplish this project I associated myself with a Montreal based travel agency which strongly believes in my venture."

Canada seems to be the perfect natural habitat for these kinds of opportunities. "Canada is a country which allows enough space for everyone" continues Castagnetta "There is a great tolerance for foreigners. Immigrants are - on the other hand – enriching the country with their new ways of thinking and innovative ideas. Everything I'm saying is of tangible nature as there are a lot of introductory programs towards people born outside of Canada, because agencies everywhere have finally caught on the fact that carrying employees of different cultures, in a professional structure, completes the level of efficiency of the business carried.

On the "eloping minds" phenomenon Castagnetta seems firm on opposite convictions of the terminology. "I think this 'fleeing' of young minds, is mostly virtual. Firstly because no one is really escaping from the Country. Everyone who has left Italy still carries in his mind the hope of a possible return. I know a lot of Italian researchers who would love to work in their place of birth. They only desire to be appreciated for their doing, to be valorized and not treated as numbers. It's not necessarily an economical aspect. Secondly: I don’t agree with the terminology of 'minds'. These people we are talking about are mainly people with the courage to change and give a purpose to their professional life. In Italy it can always be a problem while in Canada you are at least repaid for your courage."

So these fleeing minds won't come back anymore? "I think favoring the return is wrong or at least it's a utopia. The perfect solution would be to internationalize it. In other words, a reciprocal collaboration among Universities, Research Centers, Associations, students etc all over. Maybe it'd be more auspicial to invite the researchers to work for projects in Italy for a number of months – they wouldn't refuse. In Canada the internationalization costs are included in the social budget of the country while in Italy (especially in the south) its importance is not yet understood and valorized. Maybe foreign agencies would be interested in financing emerging projects instead. For example, if an Italian center of research comes up with a unique prototype for a bicycle perhaps many international manufacturers would be interested in it. Private corporations are most likely to invest on the research.

Corrado Paina seems to have the same point of view - as the young Castagnetta - regarding the expression "eloping minds". "Rather - confirms Paina – we are talking about a majority of individuals with great cultural and intelligence peaks who unfortunately don't find enough space in Italy. Great minds go where the expression of such is mostly appreciated. Here in Canada, where the culture is still young and fresh, there is plenty of space for accomplishment."

ALFREDO IANNACCONE