After a break, RAI has resumed the broadcasting of a show produced for and dedicated to the Italians abroad. RAI is an important resource for many Italian in the world to stay in touch with Italy, and having a tv show for them, in addition to the normal schedule of programs broadcasted in the world but made for Italians who live in Italy, is crucial. It means that at least in the public television there are those who understand the importance of our fellow who went away.
The choice is even more rewarding considering that the anchorwoman of this show is a capable and beautiful young Italian woman, proud of her Italianity – I myself have had the honor of being on air with her, so I know what I'm saying, very professional and always able to put at ease her guests, many of whom are not used to being on this side of the camera. So it is with pleasure that we meet Benedetta Rinaldi, who is already in the heart of many Italians in the world, particularly in the United States.
Benedetta, what's your story? How did you get to work for the Italian television?
I got there starting from the radio, where I began thanks to the Salesian priests where I went to school. They had and still have a small radio in Rome, called the Radio Meridiano 12. On a voluntary basis, I started with them, beginning with the editorial staff and then, over the course of four years, ending going live on air. From there I happened to be called to work for Radio Vaticana, and then for a replacement within the RAI 1 religious show called "A Sua immagine (In His image)". Then RAI decided to give me more space, and in short, here I am.
You host everyday "Community" the program for the Italians abroad that is then aired all over the world by Rai Italia. Which subjects do you talk about?
Community was created to create a network a get in touch between them the Italian communities scattered throughout the world, who probably do not know each other because they belong to countries and societies that are in different continents. However, the enthusiasm in the many stories that we receive and tell every day is the same, the Italian one: these are stories about individuals or associations of people who loved Italy when they left and continue to love it.
In another part of the program we host representatives of associations or groups of Italians in the world, who come to our tv studio to describe their activities, their problems, the resources they have: very frequently, priorities in this area are those of the return of the Italians abroad, the reunion with the younger generation or perhaps with the natives, sometimes eager to return to Italy.
A third part of the program is dedicated to the "mysterious" host, who every day is a famous person that for some reason has ties with the Italy which is and abroad: because why he traveled, because he has been successful there, because his or her family is still outside Italy or went abroad. Then, in the part of the program called Info Community we try to give answers with our tax consultants, notaries, lawyers to the questions that come to our attention via the messages sent from the Italians abroad to our e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally there is a beautiful part about the Italian language where every day, with the help of linguists at the Dante Alighieri Society's, we describe a new Italian word (which Italians abroad may therefore not know) or an old one (and thus fallen in disuse) or a regional dialect.
Each episode can be viewed online at the brand new website www.raitalia.it in the section called "Community", where everybody can find both the whole episodes and the single columns of the program, episode after episode.
"Mamma RAI" has just celebrated his sixtieth birthday. Can you feel the importance of working for a company that has played a key role in the evolution and growth of the Italian people after the end of the second world war?
For sure I can feel it. It would be nice if RAI came back to have that importance, nowadays. RAI has had great merit for the education and the growth of the post-war Italy, but sometimes now it seems to have lost this ability. At "Community" we know and respect very much these merits, and we are aware about the power of television, so we are always careful to give the right and balances messages; but it seems to me that sometimes in other programs this is not exactly always the case.
Sometimes, as a part of RAI audience, I am almost sorry to be welcoming in my home - through the tv - inappropriate situations and languages, the wrong message. It's true that competition imposes a race to see who gets the broader audience, but, as I see it, competition should lead to an increase in the quality of the messages that pass, the language that are used, the images that are shown: not the opposite.
It does not mean that I do not believe in the leadership of RAI, indeed: there are still programs geared to this spirit, like Piero Angela's ones, or some from RAI 3.
The Italians in America: how would you describe them, from your point of view?
Italians in the US are the Italians in the world that I know best, because a few years ago I got to go to America more than once for what was RAI International, which now no longer exists. The people that I've met were all in the middle between being Italian and being American: I saw a perfect integration with the society and with the American way of thinking, but this did not dent their strong Italian character. I like the fact that Italians in America have taken the best of the society where they went to live, and have been able to develop their being Italian in a context that perhaps, in some areas, has helped them more than it happened here in Italy. For this reason, I think many Italian Americans are "square" Italians, as to say enhanced by living where their qualities and their merits are valued and rewarded more and better.
Do you have a story that you remember, among the many regarding the Italians in North America?
The one that immediately comes to my mind is Mario Collavino's: a nice 80 years gentleman from Friuli, who I wanted to meet in person after hearing his story. Mario and his brother were carpenters when they left Friuli: they went to Canada, where they started as construction workers. Then they started their own small company: their first contract was a sidewalk. From there their company grew up, building in the United States and then around the world stadiums, parking lots, supermarkets, large buildings, bridges ... up to be the winners of the tender for the building of the Freedom Tower at Ground Zero in New York, with lots of praise and closing credits for the work, perfectly executed.
His story is an example of how the Italians, who left Italy without high degrees and with nothing in their pockets, were able to earn money and success only thanks to their quality, their resourcefulness and their stubbornness, well-recognized and appreciated and awarded in North America. And it is also a story that rewards the cleanliness, the transparency and the honesty of those Italians, because Collavino explained us that the Americans, as it should be for the construction of something so important as the Freedom Tower - which is not just a building but a little bit of a monument too - set up a rigorous system of vetting and monitoring of the companies that participated, because nothing illegal had to be involved in this fundamental aspect of the reconstruction of that symbolic area.
Among other things, Mario Collavino is a very simple person, humble, affable, that puts you at ease: he kept his being Italian in this, though he is also a strong, fast, pragmatic and successful businessman. And he is always smiling and jovial.
When will you be back to the United States?
I will most likely return in September for Associazione Culturale di New York, which every year organizes, with its founder Tony Di Piazza, a beautiful Italian song festival, with really smart and talented artists and music of excellent quality.
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