“My name is Stephen, I’m 23 years old, I come from Cameroon and I’m studying agricultural science. I am the president of the Cameroonian students’ association here in Pisa. I really like Pisa, I play soccer and basket every weekend with some friends to have fun and get rid of study stress. I can see the difference between my country and Italy, let’s say that here everything is defined, the buildings, the houses are more beautiful. In Africa there is still so much to do, so much to build. One thing that struck me when I arrived in Italy, was the respect for the beautiful cultural heritage you guys have here. People do care about culture, and monuments are well preserved. In Cameroon there is great respect for our culture, but economic means available and lack of technology have a certain impact. Before leaving Cameroon, I attended a six-months course for the B2 level Italian certification and after that, in order to get the visa, I have been interviewed at the Italian embassy. That’s the procedure, you arrive here already with some basis but, obviously, the Italian you learn it’s not the language you will use in the daily life. When I arrived, in fact, I still didn’t feel ready to interact with people, I was also a bit shy, I felt uncomfortable trying to speak a language that wasn’t mine. Practicing and talking to people, my Italian has improved. I found support in a Cameroonian guy who soon became a great friend of mine. At the time, it was just the two of us, then other people approached us and today we have lots of Italian friends, especially here in my faculty. The biggest obstacle – and unfortunately sometimes it’s still a problem – was noticing the empty seats left beside me by other students in class. Three rows of empty seats and I was the only one. Sometimes people who were sitting, just got up to sit somewhere else far from me. I felt different, different from the others. Maybe I’m different, but I don’t get how people can amplify this up to this point. I felt as I had some kind of disease, and people wanted to escape from me. This hurt me a lot, I often wondered why I had come here and if it wasn’t a mistake. At the end of the day I told myself: I have goals, I won’t stay here forever, just as much as it takes to accomplish what I have in mind and I’ll be back to Cameroon. Once I got a degree, I would like to come back to my village, Tchang – west Cameroon – and become an agricultural entrepreneur. I’m studying agricultural sciences to acquire theoretical and practical knowledge that I’ll use in my country. Probably I wouldn’t mind staying in Italy, but in order to achieve my goals I can’t stay here, I have to go back to Cameroon. I am the president of the Association of Cameroonian students in Pisa. We are a no-profit association, with the aim of promoting the culture and traditions of Cameroon through music, dances and arts. We often organize events, cultural evenings, fairs and exhibitions. We want to reach as many people as possible: we know the academic community here, but we want to introduce ourselves also to the people outside the university, to break down the walls. There are so many things to discover in our cultures, in what we are and in what does belong to us. In the future, other people will come from Cameroon to Pisa, and it will be nice for them to find such a friendly reality. We want to reach young people because they are the ones who will increasingly experience cultural diversity. Now we are planning to go to middle and high schools, proposing cultural and sport initiatives to younger students. We are about 80 members in the association, but between students and workers, the Cameroonians living in Pisa and surroundings are many more. The Cameroonian community is growing in Pisa and we want the two communities, the Italian and ours, to meet each other, in order to become more open.”