Maria Cristina Quintili De Ruiter - Italy

Born in Macerata (Italy), she moved to Holland in 1998. Back in Italy since 1999, lives in Premeno (Province of Verbania). Ms. Quintili has been an elementary school teacher for over twenty years; her work also includes teaching adults, senior citizens, students with specific educational needs and foreign students.
She participated in many didactical-educational projects, among which are:

• EU Socrates-Comenius project, didactic circles of Macerata and Verbania (Italy);
• an expression-linguistic project on literary geners for children’s literature (comics, fairy tales, legends, stories and novels);
• the ‘Libriamoci’ project, generating ideas for and building a book for children, within the ‘La Scuola Adotta un Monumento’ (The School Adopts a Monument) project for the conservation of Italian artistic and cultural patrimony – both projects done for the Macerata school district authority.

Ms. Quintili writes poetry and has also written ‘Un Dono da Scoprire’ (A Gift to Discover) a short story about inter-religious matters for young children. She attended many professional updating courses and formation courses for teachers offered by the several Italian and foreign educational institutions – mainly concerning the teaching and learning of foreign languages. Furthermore, she is dedicated to inter-cultural and diversity education, religious and spiritual education, peace education and non-formal education. She is also interested in art, philosophy and Oriental religions and cultures and takes part in various initiatives for the actualization of the “Spiritual Forum” and about integration of traditional and alternative medicines.

Recently she has been working in three educational-didactical projects: “A peaceful future” in 2003, “Searching for peace” in 2004, “Peace in the Outer and Inner Environment” in 2005, all inspired by Lama Gangchen’s principles for better living, in order to create a Peace Culture, which may bring hope to future generations, and by his teachings about non violent medicine and inner peace, which is the most solid foundation for world peace.






There is a famous phrase by Lao Tsu: “What looks like the end of everything to the caterpillar is called a butterfly by the rest of the world.” Something that we don’t necessarily like, like the rain, produces a “positive side effect”, a wonderful rainbow, when it comes into contact with the sunlight. In the same way, when we have to face difficulties, this can make us grow and renew ourselves. On a lager scale, similarly, highly complex negative chain reactions that come from an infinity of causes can be transformed into positive synergies of the outer and inner environment by producing “virtuous circles”.


Knowing oneself and the others through PEACE EDUCATION, environmental education and health education as effective means to create positive interdependent relations and to reduce as much as possible negative side effects in certain areas. The overall aim is to sustain the goals and programs of UNICEF and of the UN Decade for Education and Sustainable Development.


The students involved in this program are special care students at the Istituto Auxologico Italiano of Piancavallo-Verbania, requiring special care for their nutrition behavior and for problems with their growth. There are also other schools affiliated to hospitals that will network with this project.


Drawing inspiration from the goals of this congress, we chose to work on the following aspects:



  • Ensuring the right to health and education

  • Reducing the school problems of the students in the hospital through activities that develop and enhance their individual skills and social aptitudes. We promote small-group cooperative learning and give every child a job that is necessary for the well functioning of the collective whole.

  • Overcoming the children’s isolation in the hospital. We try to create a network of friendships between the children and different schools. In this, we are helped by multimedia learning tools and by networking projects with various school institutions.

  • Promoting the integration of children who have difficulties or who are in need of special care.




  • From a scientific point of view, we analyze human development and the evolution of some natural phenomena:

  • The phenomenon of the rainbow

  • The composition of light

  • The metamorphosis of the caterpillar into a butterfly

  • The alphabet of the butterflies

  • Basics in nutritional education, physical exercise and health.


  • Learning to do group work with scientific research methods such as the confrontation fo results - origin and definition of the rainbow; creating a rainbow by composing and decomposing light; why does the rainbow take an arch form?

  • Learning to share different experiences: Newton’s disc; the working of the prism; refraction; laboratories:The nature of the colors; the emotions connected to the colors; coloring with plants.

  • Learning to recognize the causes that preserve good health: preventing child obesity and cardio-vascular diseases by monitoring one’s nutritional behavior and life-style.




Experiencing things from the point of view of someone else and learning to respect the others. Reading and writing on the lives of great people who have transformed their reality and who have become universal examples of peace.. Recognizing how they were able to transform difficulties and disadvantages into “positive side-effects”.


  • Learning to understand the interdisciplinary dimensions of a problem

  • Learning to deal with conflicts through a ritual that uses symbols and that creates spaces for dialogue, mediation, negotiation. E.g. “Preventive introduction”: ”What the others say about me; “The Book of Conflicts”: were the solutions that the group arrived at in dealing with problems are recorded; “The trashcan of anger”: when any member of the group feels a disturbing emotion, he or she represents it graphically on a peace of paper. This is then thrown into the trashcan with the accompaniment of the whole group’s applauses.

  • Learning the principles of a healthy living together in society.

  • Learning to switch attention from emotional resentments to a reflection of events.

  • Studying the non-violent behavior of great personalities like Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Papa Giovanni Paolo II to be inspired and to find food for thoughts.

  • Recognizing how violence is rooted in ignorance, fear, in a lack of understanding. Therefore, learning appropriate techniques to control and to transcend violence.




Keeping the examples of the caterpillar, the butterfly and the rainbow as metaphors for positive interdependence, we start a course in cooperative learning. Hereby, we promote the goals of a deeper self-knowledge, of a greater capacity to harmonize one’s life with the environment and the people around us. In case of conflicts we sit down around the “Table of Peace” to explore the different advantages that different solutions to a problem entail. Then, we look for a compromise that suits the needs of both sides.
Learning to tolerate, to accept and to appreciate various cultures and opinions.


  • Discovering one’s potentials as well as one’s limitations, and learning to accept them.

  • Accepting the difficulties that result from differences.

  • Learning to know the Islamic culture.

  • Recognizing our prejudices and transforming them by recognizing the value of others and by respecting them.

  • Learning to listen in an active way: this is fundamental to understand the point of view of the others.

  • Learning to talk in a group: practicing interviews with role-switching; working on communication by getting together in pairs or as a group to gain a better understanding of one’s conflict patterns.

  • Learning to negotiate and to take group decisions.

  • Producing cooperative activities in which all can participate by creating Peace Flags.

  • Understanding that there can be no individual success that is not also a group success and realizing that this also represents an instance of a positive interdependency.




What does our society consider either as a “caterpillar” or as a “butterfly”? We analyze the condition of being ill and try to emphasize the positive side effects of the healing experience. We will examine the cultural bias promoted by the media: the stranger, the differences, the ideals of beauty. The topic of diet and self-image. “If I was a caterpillar…” seeking self-knowledge as a basis for meeting and understanding the others.


  • Learning to document and to present the obtained results: realizing hypertexts and multimedia products; sharing and diffusing the produces materials through videoconferences or softwares for cooperative learning. (e.g. the FLE3 system).

  • Learning to find informations from various innovative sources: researching Internet for the various discussed topics: legends about the rainbow in different cultures and religions; nutrition in history and in the various cultures, etc..

  • Participating in group games in which self-awareness and the awareness of the others is promoted.

  • Learning to reflect critically on the tastes, preferences, habits and attitudes one has towards food.

  • Understanding why certain pathologies entail that we cannot eat certain foods.




Reading and commenting a text on the responsible use of the resources and on the poor countries’ debt burden. Realizing new objects from recycling material. The principles of trash sorting and collecting. The “global cake”. Hunger and obesity: a global survey. The story of the rich man and the poor people. The physiognomy and function of the Non-Governmental Organizations.


  • Recognizing the importance of socially useful and responsible forms of behavior like long distance adoptions; becoming a sponsor of the UNICEF projects, etc..

  • Planning the saving of energy, recycling, and protecting the environment.

  • Learning to realize constructive activities for an inner and outer balance.

  • Promote the children’s awareness to the problems of the third world and to the exploitation of the natural resources by the rich countries.

  • Experiencing how things can be transformed into something beautiful and useful for man (recycling).

We would like to thank the teaching staff of the Scuola Media ed Elementare di Piancavallo for helping with this project by sharing material resources and experiences: Trovato Palmina, Torelli Rita, Romeo Maria, Matella Margherita and Barigozzi Franco.