Searching for meaning in the midst of a pandemic

December 5, 2020

Cristina Preatoni

Written by Cristina Preatoni (Italy), Amani Fellow, 2020

Spring 2020 has certainly been exceptional to me. In a dramatic chain of events due to the pandemic, the first part of 2020 was marked by lack of meaning, both in what was happening in my home city, Milan (Italy) and the world, and the lack of purpose in my career. To make things worse, my job was nearly declared redundant, projecting me into the condition of payroll subsidies.

That exponential sense of emptiness found a surprising answer for me in the Amani Institute Post-Graduate Certificate in Social Innovation Management, discovered by chance thanks to one of the many online seminars attended in search of new stimuli and, why not, new possible career paths.

It was in April 2020 when I spoke to Francesca Folda, the Global Communication Director at Amani Institute. She helped me to focus on what I was looking for and told me about the course she attended herself, years ago, in Nairobi, Kenya.

I searched for more information and in a few days, I decided to apply for the program which, in the pandemic year, was exceptionally offered in a fully digital version remotely, and was going to start in a summer characterized by travel restrictions. 

To me, it marked a very long and definitely different summer by the sea. I have been cycling from the beach back home to join webinars and study. An entire world of great value opened up to me through my computer.

Thanks to the selection of contents and the mix of theory and practice, with the traditional teaching enriched with group projects and teamwork, the program has allowed me to explore the universe of social entrepreneurship. I’m seeing some of its best examples in action and I am able to tune in with my professional background.

I had always worked in the for-profit sector (most recently in a company which is a sales house for international media brands), and now I am finally seeing how I can apply my skills – media, advertising, communication and events – to a new field I deeply care about.

The themes and case histories I am learning about are all new and fascinating to me: careers with social impact, storytelling, fundraising, ideation and development of an innovative individual project, branding role for social enterprises, leadership, exploration and self-knowledge. Add a group remote internship with The International Rescue Committee IRC, the humanitarian organization dealing with war refugees and displaced people hit by major disasters. During my apprenticeship there, together with my colleague Anja Diggelmann, we developed an innovative project that aims at procuring Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in northwest Syria through open-source design and local manufacturing. 

Think of all of that and you can have a sense of how intense and enriching that last 5 months have been.

The Amani Institute program is thus the educational, personal and cultural experience that added meaning to these unprecedented times and, at the same time, to my professional path up to now. This is a precious experience to be exploited in a new chapter in my life that, I am sure, will have social impact at the core of it.

Tutors, instructors, experts and professionals who have accompanied us throughout the five months of the program (that is ending in December) and my fellow adventurers with their diverse and rich stories are located in different parts of the world, unreachable for a hug. At the moment. 

But I trust the connections I’ve built are strong enough that we will cross paths again soon. This time in person.

Where Cristina’s Class Fellows come from:

Where Amani Fellows Come From - 2020

Curious about this program? Learn more here. Applications are open!

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