“Be Respectful of Other Cultures, Religions and Lives”

Valeria is from Italy. She is passionate about social and educational development. She loves travelling, discovering new cultures and meeting new people. Her aim in life is to combine her passions into a career. Valeria Pini's mentor is Eleni Glinou.

Q: Tell us a few things about your country, and also your life's story! 

A: I was born and grew up in Italy but have been in the UK for almost 10 years. I came here for university and decided to stay for love. Although the UK is not my home and I still feel 100% Italian I don’t think I will be able to move back that easily: I’ve spent all of adult life here in the UK and I am now accustomed to this life (which also equals a better life prospective for young professionals). 

Having travelled a lot, both for work and for pleasure, I got to know different cultures and languages. Travelling and discovering the world is what makes my life worth it. This is why I want to continue my travels and aim at living in different countries.

Q: What is your view of the world as it is today? And how do you define the concept of a better world?

A: The world will be better when everyone will have the same rights and access to the same rights.

As for my vision of the world today, I don't have a positive one. But I do believe in playing my part in my community and supporting each other to do our best to make the world a tiny bit a better place.

Q: What are some of the key challenges in your society?

A: These are the problems the society I live in has to face:

  • Job security for young people
  • Equal pay for women
  • Equal access to education
  • Equal access to health services

And in 2017 I struggle to understand how these issues still need to be addressed in a modern society.

Q: As a young individual what are a few of the hurdles that you had to overcome up until today?

A: I had a very comfortable upbringing so I have to admit I didn’t have many hurdles to overcome while I was growing up. However I admit that despite a good education and a good CV it was very difficult for me to find a full-time job in my field. I found one after a couple of years of short-term contracts and unpaid internships, things that you need to be able to afford to do. 

It is extremely tiring and frustrating struggling not being able to find a job to sustain yourself after many years of higher education, training and commitment. As this was an issue that our parents (growing up in Western Europe) never had to face, it shows how different the world is now.

Q: Why is the role of a mentor important for you?

A: I want a change at this point of my career and I realised that I need a mentor to support me in this change and help me identify the way forward. I would like to move towards education within the field of international development and because of my limited experience a mentor would be the perfect person to support me at this moment.

Q: Do you have a lesson that life has taught you and you would like to share?

A: The most important lesson I’ve learned on my travels is to be caring towards the others and respectful of other cultures, religions and lives. This way I also get to learn and enrich my life with wonderful new experiences.

Q: Name a project, a foundation or a person in your country that you think is doing great work in helping improve other people's lives!

A: I believe the NGO African Initiatives is doing great work with women and girls in Tanzania (especially with the Maasai community) and Ghana. They help girls go to school – ensuring they have every chance to succeed, tackling issues like Early Forced Marriage and Gender-based violence. They train teachers to be inspirational role models for both girls and boys. They promote the financial independence of women and empower them to be respected members of and key decision-makers in their communities.

Q: Share with us a phrase, a poem or a story that you love or you find interesting!

A: “Un hombre no envejece cuando se le arruga la piel sino cuando se le acaban los suenos y las esperanzas.”

“A man does not grow old when his skin wrinkles, but when dreams and hopes run out.”

Q: Tell us one thing that you have learned from your mentor.  

A: I’ve learned to research more and search better the opportunities I have to make my career change. I’ve learned not to get discouraged if the plan changes, but simply to adapt it and look forward. I’ve learned how useful it is to have someone else’s understanding your situation and helping you out.