A short trip into an Embassy: interview with Anna Ruffino

Anna Ruffino is an Italian young woman who has become the First Secretary of the Consular Chancery of the Embassy of Italy in Madrid after passing all the different and difficult stages of the open competitive exam which is organized, every year, by the Italian Foreign Ministry.

Being the First Secretary of the Consular Chancery of the Embassy entails having a great variety of tasks to execute, the majority of which are the same that, in Italy, are carried out by each municipality and especially by the general register office. So, as Anna Ruffino explained me, her work consists in providing Italian citizens, who are living in Madrid, with all the documents and services they need (ID card renewal, passport, fiscal code, possibility to vote from another country, pensions, registration of a change in the marital status and assistance to the victim’s family in case an Italian citizen dies on Spanish territory). In particular, this final aspect of her work is, for Anna Ruffino, the most difficult but, at the same time, the most gratifying. In her words:

“I know that it means facing difficult and really painful situations and tragedies, but knowing that, in some way, you are helping and supporting them by dealing with all the bureaucratic aspects they are not certainly thinking of in such a situation, makes you feel really helpful and useful.”

For example, she has given assistance to the families of the seven Italian Erasmus students who died in Valencia the last 20th March because of the bus on which they were travelling had an accident.

Talking about how to start working for an embassy she explained me that, if someone is interested in starting a career in an embassy the first thing he/she should have is a master degree either in international relationship, law or economics and a very good knowledge of English. Then, he/she must undergo to the five written tests and an oral exam which made up the competitive exam; if the candidate manages to pass all the tests he/she can become Legazione Secretary. When someone decides to work in an embassy, he/she should also be willing to spend two years abroad and after his/her mandate has come to an end he/she can return in Italy and working in the Italian Foreign Ministry, called Farnesina, or in another Italian embassy.

As regards the structure of the Italian Embassy of Madrid it has different offices, the political, cultural, economic, scientific and security one, each of which with its specific function. In particular, I have decided to focus my interview with Anna Ruffino on the cultural issues and projects the Italian Embassy of Madrid carries out. The cultural office is responsible for the coordination of all those events related to the Italian culture which are organized by the public authorities in Madrid and especially by the Italian Institutes of Culture. Moreover, the cultural office improves and promotes the relationships with the Spanish cultural institutions, foundations and universities with a special consideration for Italian studies. With this regard,

“a very interesting thing to know is that in Spain there are two Italian state schools (from kindergarten to high school) of the eight existing all over the world; one of these is in Madrid and other one is in Barcelona”.

They are bilingual schools with the main purpose of improving the promotion and diffusion of the Italian culture and language among the students who can be not only Italians but also foreigners.

As regards the Italian institute of culture (IIC) of Madrid it is a branch of the Italian Foreign Ministry Farnesina focused on the promotion of the Italian culture in Spain. In particular, it organizes art exhibition, music and film festivals in collaboration with the main local institutions and organizations; it promotes cultural exchanges; it offers scholarships to the ones who wants to know better the Italian culture and language and encourages the publication of Italian books, as well as the translation in Spanish of the most important and famous Italian masterpieces. For example, last May, with the collaboration of the University of Malaga, the IV seminar on Camilleri’s books, a Sicilian writer, the author of the Montalbano saga, took place. Another important event is the “Festival de Cine Italiano de Madrid” which takes place every year, since 2008, in November. In this occasion it is possible to see some of the Italian films, short films and documentaries presented in the international film festivals (Cannes, Venezia, Toronto, Locarno and Berlin). The admission is free and the last night of the event will host a famous Italian film director. This is another way of promoting the Italian culture and language because

“all the showings are in their original language, the Italian, with Spanish subtitles, so that it would be easier to understand them”.

 By Valeria Contessa


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