Eleonora, the unique international University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo and the importance of the network
Fourteen years ago, when I enrolled at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, I couldn’t imagine that Pollenzo – a small town in Piedmont (Italy), yet a world capital of food, would have seen me growing and inextricably linking my private and professional life to food and it’s actors.
The impact this University had on my life is huge. It allowed me to study and live with international students from all over the world; my fellow classmates where an unbelievable concentration of crazy people from the five continents, with the most different attitudes and background. I came from a small town in the province of Turin… it was like splashing in a surreal small sample of a planet that now looked much bigger to me than ever before! Together, we travelled around world to find out how gastronomic landscapes are built in an extraordinary synergy between territories, people and cultures. How can you possibly not fall in love with it?
After graduation, I was supposed to get out of this “bubble”, leave the nest, embrace reality.
Yeah, well… it didn’t sound like a good time to do it! Was it a little “Peter Panish”? Maybe. But I was actually offered a job at the University as a tutor for the student’s study trips and that allowing me to continue staying in touch with a “student life” (I told you: “Peter Panish”…).
But turning over a new leaf was around the corner: after a couple of years, I had the chance to become the personal assistant of Carlo Petrini, founder and President of Slow Food, an international food movement that is present in over 160 Countries with hundreds of projects and initiatives.
Boom – Once again, I had an incredible opportunity!
I spent with him four intense and inspiring years, exploring another side of gastronomy – the one made of international relations, cooperation with institutions, associations, civil society, food policy, food politics. In few words? Countless planes, long drives and train rides, a “hot” cell phone in my pocket and “some” restless nights, but also meeting with people I used to read in the newspapers, or to watch in TV. “The devil wears Prada”? Of course not. First of all because Carlo doesn’t wear Prada and hasn’t any idea about what a hairdresser is, and secondly because (thank God!) he’s not a cray-lunatic-disrespectful maniac, but a man that dedicated his life to a cause, working tirelessly for it, foreseeing and accepting any new challenge.
These four years were priceless.
At some point, I wanted to do my part as well, so I left his office to start a new project oriented to the implementation of the Alumni network back at the University of Gastronomic Sciences: back to the roots!
We had an incredible set of Alumni that left Pollenzo to become professionals in their fields of elections (very diverse and variegated), we were all aware of their value, and we knew that there was an unexploited potential: if they already are pretty strong, what might happen if we put them in direct touch and facilitate occasions to cooperate?
So, that’s where I’m now: in the last year, I worked a lot on reaching out Alumni letting them know that I was there to help this kind of contacts. In different parts of the world someone started local meetings and gatherings of former students in their area, they reach out to me to look for professional contacts or to confront about new projects and ideas they have, I try to help with good connections with other Alumni or other food network we work with. In addition, we also are developing a network of UNISG Ambassadors around the world, and we are starting with programs and events of life-long learning.
My studies, my work experiences, the environment where I grew taught me about the importance of the network. The network: putting together energies, inputs, ideas, skills, competences, engagement towards a common goal. I had my hands on this concept, which is not abstract at all, but is made of real people, flesh and blood.
Once again, I’m happy with what I’m doing and how I love to say: “They are giants, but we are multitude”.
Food lover, beer addict. I was born in the plans of Piedmont, grew in the beautiful hills of Langhe and Roero, even if I’m sure I was supposed to live at the seaside. I spent almost half of my life at the University of Gastronomic Sciences and travelled a lot, but for sure not enough yet.