EoC: work as a vocation

A young Italian girl gives up a promising career as an engineer to learn how to put the person with their dignity at the center of everything. The testimony of Maria Antonietta Casulli as she shared it in the 2014 EoC Workshop School.

published in Focolare.org on 26/10/2014

EdC-01«Last year I was fortunate to have partecipated in a workshop of the Economy of Communion in Loppiano. There my eyes were opened: up to that moment I was still in the process of deciding on “what shall I do”, without asking myself “who am I”. I understood that work is a vocation: I had, therefore, to find my vocation, that which would make me happy.

I was concluding my university studies in biomedical engineering. In October, 2013 I graduated from the Polytechnic University of Turin, after presenting my thesis at the Polytechnic University of Lausanne in Switzerland.

 

I spent 5 years at the Polytechnic, lessons 8 hours a day. I would study at night, spending entire days without building any true relationships with my colleagues. In certain famous environments, individualism is very strong, there is the fear of being overtaken and the professors also transmit the “anxiety of being the top”.

 After many sacrifices I was going to graduate on schedule, having achieved the highest grades. There was a big probability that I would also be granted the doctorate in Switzerland with a high salary, a house by the lake and great friends who were waiting for me there. It was a fundamental moment in my life, wherein I could decide on very important things for my future.

But something frightened me: the attachment to a career and to money. I wanted to have the instruments neccesary to be able to work, I would say, “against the current”. During times of crisis, young people like me have a difficult time in finding work and I didn’t want to close myself up in my career without looking at anyone else. It was with this state of mind that I arrived at the EoC workshop full of many questions. I didn’t find all the answers, but I found an atmosphere of openness, where entrepreneurs , professors and youth were all together, all equal, as we looked at Italy today with all its challenges.

I understood that having a lot of money would have been the first obstacle to my happiness,  which for me means something entirely different. This was confirmed when I went to the Philippines, before beginning my doctorate that I knew I was granted while I was on the plane!  This was a social trip that I had already planned, wherein I experienced first-hand a culture that was quite different from mine.

I arrived right at the moment of the strongest typhoon in the world,  supertyphoon Yolanda, in Novembre 2013. The Filipino people, even if they are often struck by similar tragedies, had that dignity that made me also feel that … I had everything I needed to be happy! I understood the difference between “poverty” and “misery”. “Poverty” is what I saw in the Philippines, whereas “misery” is poverty without trust, without hope, which I saw in the faces of many of my Italian friends due to the (economic) crisis. Here in Europe depression and the psychologists enter into the picture… It’s true, there is a crisis. But we still have a roof over our heads and even daily meals. The dignity that I discovered in the Philippines is a lesson that will be useful for my working career.

Because of this, I gave up a career in Switzerland and now I am working in Loppiano, in a company of the Economy of Communion that was started to form young people not only on a relational-social level but also through work. Here I don’t work as an engineer, but I do manual labor, since automatic equipment does not exist. I work with clay, using my hands. And I feel that, in order to be a good engineer, after years spent studying, I also need to know what an ordinaruy labourer does. Maybe for some it seems like I am wasting my time, but I would like to be that engineer who, when he looks at the labourers, knows that he is looking at persons with their dignity, and who puts them at the center of his own work».

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