Students of the Eugenio Montale Institute in Italy participated in a series of learning sessions involving gemstones and human values.
Gemologist Francesco Sequino added his professional experience and insight on behalf of the International Gemological Institute. The initiative, titled “Gems of Legality,” took place last December in Scampia, a suburb in the far north of Naples, and included students from pre-school age to fifth grade.
Scampia is a neighborhood widely associated with criminal activity. The school serves as the first line of defense against crime through education and culture. The children of Scampia need hope and motivation to believe that hard work can lead to success, despite the prejudices and stereotypes that inextricably associate Scampia with the Camorra.
The importance of lawful behavior, respect for other cultures and self-expression are best introduced at an early age. To that end, each class was given a different gemstone to use as a centerpiece for discussion of lawful trade, human rights and self-discovery. This served the dual purpose of stimulating discussion of important topics, while simultaneously introducing young people to the beauty and fascinating complexity of the gemstone world.
According to Principal Paola Carnevale:
The beauty of each individual resides in in his or her uniqueness. It is important to help them see how multifaceted they are, just like gemstones taking on different colors, depending on the reflections the minerals generate. “Gems of legality” is a path intended to lead to the successful acquisition of values, while enabling each student to express the brightest part of himself or herself.
First grade: Precious gemstones, their preservation and their sparkle
The first grade project was symbolically named ‘Red Diamond,’ after the world’s rarest and most precious gemstone. The young people involved were given the opportunity to explore unfamiliar territory, broadening their future perspectives and learning about new aspects of their surroundings. The importance of precious gemstones in human history and society was emphasized, as well as the impact of the gemstone trade on cultural exchange between different and distant populations.
Fourth grade: Children’s rights
The project ‘Purple Ruby’ was carried out by fourth-grade students from the institute. The gemstone was studied through a journey that explored themes related to the rights and duties of children, such as the right to make mistakes and the right to express opinions.
Fifth grade: Naples, its culture and its thousand colors.
The central theme assigned to students taking on the ‘Emerald’ project was rediscovery of their own territory. By raising awareness about the controversies and social conditions on the outskirts of Naples, the project aimed to reveal the hidden culture of the city, inspire the students to expect improvements, and be determined to take a proactive role in their community.
Pre-school: The right to be a child
The pre-school project, titled ‘Blue topaz,’ focused on the rights every child should have, including the right to play and the right to experience emotions. Play, understood as an activity that helps children become more self-aware, was explained as a time when they can explore and approach reality through imagination and fantasy.
The initiative takes inspiration from Article 24 of the United Nations’ Declaration of Human Rights, which deals with recreation and the right to rest. In this case, aiming to create a safe environment where children can freely express themselves, experience their emotions, and communicate with others. Moreover, it permits young people to see how physics and chemistry, lessons which are often removed from their daily experiences and concerns, can help develop problem-solving skills that are useful, and empower self-improvement in the future.