The key in the door

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A conversation with Laura Caciagli

She loves to travel, discover different realities and cultures, and when she reads a book she looks for an alternative point of view. Let’s get to know the sweet, ironic, and always smiling, Manuela Santagata, who has been with the CMCC communication office since its beginnings.

What’s your job at the CMCC Foundation?
I work in the Communication & Media Office in Lecce, dealing with web editing, translation and publication of the CMCC website’s contents. Interfacing with all the CMCC research divisions: this is the most interesting part to my job. I am sometimes involved in the organization of local events: a demanding but satisfying activity because it’s one of those moments when the CMCC opens up to its territory.

What brought you to the CMCC?
I would say a stroke of luck. I was just about to go to Turin, where I was planning to find a job and build my life, when I found out that the CMCC was looking to hire a Foreign Languages and Literature graduate: I decided to give myself one last chance to stay in Puglia and I sent in my application.

Is your current job the one you used to dream of as a child?
No. Well, I don’t remember what I used to dream of becoming when I was a child. However, when I was 15 years old, I decided I wanted to become an air hostess: I really liked the Alitalia hostess uniforms!
I love the idea of travelling while working, getting to know many different realities and cultures. This dream is linked to my choice to study foreign languages.

Tell us about a special moment during your time at the CMCC
The most exciting moment of my life at the CMCC was the launch of the Communication office in 2011. I was finally part of a work team and I had a clearly defined professional identity, like my colleagues from other offices.

What do you keep at your workstation?
Small, nice things: a little mouse that comes from Disneyland Paris, a small bee, a coin with the image of Notre-Dame de Paris; they are not objects that I have chosen, but are gifts from my closest colleagues. They have an emotional value to me: they represent the bonds of friendship and relationships I have created over the years.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic altered your working day?
I’d say my average working day involves a lot more multitasking. I miss travelling by train, the colleagues I meet at work and our old routine. I still get up very early in the morning to organize the family’s lunch and take care of household duties, and then I get to work, sitting next to my eldest son Mattia who is in primary school and learning from home. To help him out we have turned the house into a small school: we have a blackboard, when needed the kitchen becomes a science laboratory for his experiments that take place on Tuesdays, the living room is also our gym where I help him do the exercises that are assigned by his teacher. Work meetings and liaising with colleagues is still part of my daily life, with the only difference that we do everything online; we have even organised evening drinks which were fun, even if as time passes I feel the lack of real contact with people that I was used to seeing every day.

Cinema or literature?
Literature: “The key in the door” by Marie Cardinal. I was really touched: it was the first book I read in French and it was able to give me a different point of view. It’s the partly autobiographic story of a woman that decides to break with tradition and educate her three adolescent sons in a different way: she decides to keep the key in the door so as to leave the door of her house always open. Even if this woman made a difficult choice, she is not depicted by the author as a heroine, but as a simple, very human person that is sometimes tormented by doubt.
I read this book when I was 15 years old, and I remember it gave me a profound sense of freedom. Even if I didn’t consider myself a particularly strong person, I thought I could take brave and nonconformist choices too. I remember that I used to think: What will be my key in the door? What will be my brave choice?

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