Port Academy by Porto Lab, Contship Italia in Milan, 2 – 3 February 2017
Greta Marini, who is responsible for the AIVP Port Center Network, was invited to take part in the “Port Academy” organised by the PortoLab project, launched eleven years ago by terminal operator Contship Italia. In line with the principles set out in the Port Center missions charter, PortoLab allows youngsters aged between 9 and 12 to learn about the terminals operated by Contship in various Italian port cities (Milan, Cagliari, Ravenna, Gioia Tauro, La Spezia).
For a few hours each week, employees volunteer to teach the children about the realities of port life, based on a pre-defined educational program. For many of the youngsters, the port is a new and completely unknown world. A project like this requires careful preparation, and every year Port Academy aims to provide the necessary resources for the Contship employees who volunteer to accompany the children. Educational content is tested in advance by a professional working closely with the classes and teachers.
Over the two days, the Port Academy team members were given the chance to familiarise themselves with a new educational project, based on the game “Escape Room”. The game takes the form of a container, in which the children find clues to solve a number of puzzles, and allows a variety of different themes to be explored, depending on the schools’ requirements and the ages of the children.
Today, Contship is able to offer youngsters a unique and proven experience, but one which needs to be constantly updated and renewed. The children contribute with their own immediate reactions and comments, confirming the importance of showing that the port is a part of their everyday lives.
This initiative, driven by Contship Italia, needs more support from public stakeholders in the port cities where Contship’s terminals are located. The importance of links between businesses and schools – particularly in the port and maritime environments – requires work to raise awareness among urban stakeholders, local communities and the port authorities. They have an essential role to play in developing port culture with younger people and the general public. The challenge today is to channel these opportunities collectively, in order to make the country’s territories more competitive.