The advocate: Amid quarantine, Notre Dame undergrad aids Italian healthcare workers

Author: Andy Fuller

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Paolo Mazzara ’23 moved to the U.S. from Italy with his family two years ago, a move he said was part of a long-term family plan. His father studied in the states as an undergrad, and always intended to bring his family here from their home in Monza, a city roughly the size of South Bend about 15 miles north of Milan. He came to Notre Dame after a productive conversation with an alumnus, and a visit to campus during which he observed the statue of the Blessed Virgin atop the Main Building resembled the Madonnina atop the Milan Cathedral.

Now in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mazzara finds himself connecting with his Italian roots more often. But it’s not just sentimentality. He’s playing a role in securing crucial personal protective equipment for Italian healthcare workers by breaking down the language barrier that has at times slowed interactions with the World Health Organization.

Clemens Sedmak, interim director of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and one of Mazzara's professors, adds "The engagement of Paolo is inspiring. Italy has been hit so severely by the pandemic and a number of our partners and programs have been critically affected. Paolo’s activities show that we do have agency in this pandemic, that roots (Paolo’s connections to Lombardy) lead to local engagement, and that local engagement is necessary, especially in times of global interconnectedness. These are lessons for us all.

"Karl Rahner famously said that questions about Europe are questions about the whole world. In times of globalization and a global pandemic, this is more plausible than ever. The Nanovic Institute is trying to capture and collect 'voices and stories from Europe' so that we can learn from each other—and so that we can be inspired by exemplary agency like the one shown by Paolo Mazzara, a student in my 'Global Affairs' class. He has clearly done his assignment on global affairs in 'the classroom of Europe.'"

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Originally published by Andy Fuller at on April 03, 2020.