Global Week: Italian Ambassador Armando Varricchio to the U.S.

October 22-27 is Global Week at the University of Virginia. Stay tuned throughout the week for stories highlighting the global impact of Batten students, alumni, faculty, and staff. 

During Global Week at UVA, it was only fitting that a diplomat made a cameo in the Dome Room of the Rotunda. Earlier this week the Batten School, together with the Center for Politics and the International Residential College, hosted Italian Ambassador to the U.S. Armando Varricchio as part of “Democracy in Perilous Times: Unprecedented Challenges and Controversies,” an ongoing program series organized by the Center for Politics and Batten for the 2018-19 academic year. 

Varricchio, who was appointed Ambassador to the U.S. in 2016, discussed the long and rich history that the United States and Italy share.

“25 million Americans claim Italian ancestry, and Italy remains the second—after the United Kingdom—study abroad destination for Americans. It’s the first non-English study abroad destination.” Varricchio said proudly pointing out the strong connection between the two nations.

He also spoke about the connections between the University and Europe, specifically Thomas Jefferson’s European ties.

Varricchio noted that this year marked the 100-year anniversary since the end of World War I. But despite this, the world remains a complex place, fraught with violence and terror. Europe faces the largest migration since World War II—which Varricchio said has led to a renewed sense of nationalism among many European nations, including Italy. All of which Varricchio said poses its own set of risks.

“It’s true that Italy’s geographical location puts us in a vulnerable place—as migrants from Africa continually enter our country to the civil strife in Libya and the majority of the Middle East to ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine. This is our backyard. Trieste is closer to Kiev than it is to Sicily.”

And while these external forces can incite fear in citizens and lead them to become overprotective of their identity and country, Varricchio warned of such behavior, insisting that one can still be proud of their country and its heritage (joking that Italians are especially proud—not just of their country but of their native region), but without becoming closed. “We must remain open and sympathetic to the plight of others.”

His final message to audience members—and students in particular—emphasized the importance of using historical lessons as a roadmap for future decisions.

“It is up to young generations to not only study history but to learn from it.”

Garrett Hall at Sunset

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