Susan Sarandon at the University for Overseas Students
The First of October was the Inauguration of the Academic Year in the University Overseas Students in Siena. The University had a wonderful guest speaker, the actress Susan Sarandon, who was talking about her experiences as an UN ambassador, she explained that she was speaking on behalf of those individuals who have no public voice, for example – those unfortunate people who don’t even have clean water to drink or those who suffer from violence at the hands of others.
A bittersweet message for the beginning of the academic year for this small but successful University in Siena. The University for Overseas Students has 5,000 students and a well managed budget. “2012 marks the end of a economic era where we managed to sustain our college during difficult economic times and charts the beginning of a period which even with our maximum efforts may make it very difficult for us to sustain our success” Rector Massimo Vedovelli said, noting, with regret, that the study of Italian language in the world has decreased from 4th or 5th to 10th place in the last 10 years, currently it is even exceeded by the study of the Portuguese language. This result follows the pattern of the economic marginalization of our country.
Then Rector Vedovelli introduced Susan Sarandon, actress, film producer and Goodwill Ambassador (who starred in Thelma & Louise, Shall We Dance and many other films). She explained the importance of her mission: her celebrity status allows her to use her voice in the service of the downtrodden people of the world, because the voices of the oppressed are often not heard or listened to. And a famous celebrity voice which does not belong to the world of politics or bureaucracy or wine tourism is sometimes listened to more than a political campaigner or financial expert.
The Rector asked a difficult question to the famous guest “Can the film industry really help to change the world for the better?” but Ms Sarandon responded with courage and without prevarication:” Every movie is a political act and can change the point of view of many people. The most important and most successful films are those that open dialogue which helps you to understand what kind of freedom and society you really want to live in. The movies give concrete images to global economic and political situations that would otherwise remain abstract concepts.”
It was obvious to the audience that Susan Sarandon is a wonderful warm, dedicated person, it was a great experience and privilege to listen to her talk.