Vittorio Capici, BA European Studies

Vittorio Capici completed the BA European Studies in 2017.

About his time in Maastricht, he says: “Looking back at my time in Maastricht, I realize how lucky I was to live in that peaceful and quite corner of Europe at a time when I had just left the comfort of my home in Sicily. I have always felt that I was able to nurture my interests and express myself freely. This was the case especially at FASoS, where its teacher body and whole faculty staff worked tirelessly to offer us the best study experience we could have. If I pause and close my eyes to imagine walking around the faculty I still feel the warmth of a second home – and that is quite special. I have always been fascinated by the numerous activities carried out by my classmates, which I sought to contribute to as well. FASoS was not just a place for study, it was a place, and I hope it still is, where students are free to invent, create, discuss, criticize. This is what learning is supposed to be and only when I moved away from Maastricht and pursued my master’s programme at another university I realised how rare and unique the experiences I lived in Maastricht were.” After graduating from the bachelor’s programme in European Studies, Vittorio pursued a research master in International Development and Management (LUMID) at Lund University.

About his bachelor’s programme he states “The bachelor’s programme in European Studies was a milestone for my personal and professional growth. The study programme was culturally enriching, intellectually very challenging at times, and heterogeneous for the disciplines it offered to us students. The PBL made it even more unique as it pushed us to often work in groups, to question our ideas and ideals and to get out of our comfort zone. Overall, and notwithstanding its Eurocentric focus, I believe it prepared us well for understanding the complexity, and therefore the beauty, of working in diverse and multicultural environments.”

About his student life he says: “I have tried to integrate in the student life in Maastricht as much as I could from the onset. Let us not kid ourselves: studying is important and all, but there are so many other factors that contribute to student life. Therefore, I never felt I was missing chances to attend parties, join sport and cultural events, create and contribute to collective actions and activist groups. Maastricht is a place that embraces your presence and, if you allow it, will surely trigger your curiosity and interests you thought you did not have. For example, I really enjoyed going on dumpster diving experiences together with other students at night – at the edge of legality, I learned how much food our society throws away and how much can and should be done to avoid it.”

During the last year of his bachelor’s programme, Vittorio spent seven months working as a trainee at the EU Delegation to Ethiopia. “This was an incredible opportunity, and even if it made me live a different experience from the perhaps more classic Erasmus experience, it really put the basis for my current job. I now work at the European Commission, in the Directorate General International Partnerships, where I contribute as a Programme Manager to forging I hope a growingly more equal relationship between Africa and Europe. I am responsible for managing programs tackling a wide span of issues, from the refugee crisis at the border between Cameroon and Central Africa Republic, to ensuring the continuity of the Free Movement of Persons and Migrants in West Africa, to contribute building a people-centred African architecture for violent extremism prevention and counter terrorism.”

He states that his bachelor’s programme has helped with his current career: “By offering me the possibility of temporarily moving to Addis Ababa, the programme gave me the freedom and flexibility to pursue my interests and nurture my curiosity for learning more about the African and European continents. It was rather easy to integrate in the extremely multi-cultural environment of the EU embassy in Ethiopia as I was already used to working in a diverse environment as that of Maastricht. At FASoS, I was taught to work in groups, to respect and value the opinion of the other (especially if very different from mine, to practice active listening, to think critically and learn that you can never be critical enough. Do not get me wrong, there were things that I did not like about the programme. At times, I thought it was still too Western=Euro-Centric, too “white”, to “stiff” in pushing us to think about a different and more generous Europe. Those were the years of the Eurozone crisis, of the Maidan protests in Ukraine, of the beginning of the crisis in Syria and, yet, I often felt we were not going to the core of the issues – we were not criticizing the EU enough. It was only afterwards that I realised that Maastricht could have not given me that, it could have not fully respond to each one of my requests for understanding what Europe is and what it should be about. What is certain is that FASoS helped me put the basis for the young professional I am today, for making me realise that the European project is that of every European and that I should be fighting every day to contribute to its improvement. If you choose Maastricht, if you choose FASoS, you will get out of it a stronger European than when you started – and that is beautiful and unique.”

Vittorio says that he still speaks to his former classmates from time to time. “Luckily most of us took similar paths and work in similar environments. However, it is even more amazing to see how many of my former classmates were able to tap into the Maastricht lessons to pursue their dreams, to get away from what we studied in uni. This is great and absolutely not a failure for the programme: it means it contributed to the growth of very different individuals, it means it gave something to everyone, even those whose interests now lie in very distant areas than what we studied and work on while students.”

Vittorio Capici
Programme Manager Peace and Security, Governance, Migration and Mobility at European Commission
Year of Graduation: 2017