Sunday, March 20, 2011

1954 – 2011: The Changing of Italy’s Asylum Policy


The purpose of this paper is to explore the controversy of the changing of Italy’s policy on asylum over the time of Italy introducing the 1951 Geneva Convention implications. From that time till present day, Italy has went through a variety of different events and governments each influencing the policy during each respected time. One main event was the turn around of Italy being a country that was emigration to a country of immigration. This particular event started the reform for a new policy in regards towards such issues as asylum. Now with current world events, Italy is in the forefront of controversy, putting its open-ended policy in to question by the public eye.

Throughout my research, I was able to find various articles regarding the different standpoints of the changing of Italy’s asylum policy. The study of this issue has been a part of an ongoing discussion of what is going to happen with the open-endedness of the policy and current geographical events also happening are playing a major role in this. As a result, finding information about this issue was both straightforward and difficult. The fundamentals of the research were found through previous studies over Italy’s standpoint from the 1951 Geneva Convention until more recent times, 1990’s. For information regarding contemporary issues, I used reliable news articles and interviews of persons that experienced these issues firsthand. My findings supported the inconsistency of the policy and helped with the understanding of how Italy is treating current events it’s a part of.

In recent times, Italy has gone and is still continuing to go through a phenomenon of mass influx of migrants. Until the 1980’s Italy was known for being a country of emigrating, as Italians were leaving for the Americas pre World War II and then other countries of Europe post World War II (Vincenzi. Italy: A Newcomer with a Positive Attitude?). To fill the empty jobs of the now leaving Italians, immigrants have capitalized on this notion and now are coming in large numbers. The influx of immigrants has affected the policies of foreign migration, including those seeking asylum from countries of war and being persecuted under the definition of a refugee. When talking about such issues such as Italy’s asylum policy, the definitions of certain terms must be clarified for further analysis. According to the United Nations High Commission of Refugees, the official definition of a refugee is a person who "A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country…” this definition was set in 1980 and used the foundation of the 1951 Geneva Convention recognition of a refugee, article 1(Hatton. European Asylum Policy). Anyone coming for anything different is simply an immigrant. Also an asylum seeker is someone who is seeking international protection but whose claim for refugee status has not been determined.

In 1951, the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees was constructed to cope with the post World War II situation. After the war, various European countries were still under communist rule and this overall policy catered to the small numbers of asylum seekers. Two important clauses in this policy was article 1 and 33. In article 1 it gives a definition of a refugee as someone who is out of his/her country and is unable or unwilling to return as a will-founded fear of persecution. Any asylum claim submitted in a signatory state must be considered under due process without consideration of whether the potential asylum seeker entered respected country legally or not. Each country that signed the Convention had their own definition of a refugee, thus giving a wide entitlement to asylum. Italy’s definition for this was an alien who in his or her country “is not allowed to exercise the democratic liberties of the Italian Constitution shall have the right to asylum (article 10 of the Italian Constitution).” Article 33 also is important because it covers the issue of repatriation, as a claimed refugee under the Convention must not be forcibly returned to their country where they are in danger of living. This is also known as the non-refoulment principle (Hatton. European Asylum Policy). The Geneva Convention provides a foundation for asylum policy but does not provide a detail set of rules regarding a mass influx of asylum seekers, as each country has it’s own definition of what a refugee is, the opposition for treating ‘spontaneous asylum seekers’ is left to the country.

The Geneva Convention policy was enacted as law 722 of July 24, 1954. With Italy’s version of the definition of a refugee, this was the only law to be passed in regards to asylum until 1990. Even though Italy signed all the important international conventions concerning this issue, the country as a whole was not committed to reach an understanding of the problem. Article 10 of the Italian constitution was interpreted by courts as a programmatic rule and not considered compulsory. Judges actually considered that a potential asylum seeker couldn’t directly ask solely under article 10 because of the lack of Parliamentary law. Up until 1990, the Italian government faced problems of immigration and the arrival of asylum seekers, and without a comprehensive approach, acted under pressure to resolving the problem for the moment. With this law enacted, Italy committed itself to granting asylum to anyone coming from a European country that met the requirements provided by the Convention. For an asylum seeker who didn’t come from a European country, the government committed itself to granting protection de facto if they too met the Geneva Convention criteria. In most cases the government granted refugee status to those coming from a non-European countries, such as refugees from Chile and Vietnam. This was done because during this period the numbers of asylum seekers from outside of Europe was very small (Vincenzi. Italy: A Newcomer with a Positive Attitude?).

It wasn’t until 1990, that Italy passed a law regarding its asylum policy. The 39/1990 law, also known as the Martelli Law was put into place to control the ever-growing migrant population of Italy. Thus attempting to start a quota system of how many persons migrated into Italian territory. There are many different clauses within this law involving immigration but the one regarding Italy’s asylum policy is article 1; where it annuls Italy’s reservation to the 1951 Geneva Convention. By doing this, it expanded Italy’s asylum policies from just those from European countries to non-European countries. It also applied a single procedure for potential asylum seekers when applying for refuge in Italy. Other than this, the Martelli law didn’t completely deal with improving the 1951 Geneva Convention because when passing this law, the Italian government did not anticipate the large influx of displaced persons escaping from wars or situations of general and widespread violence in their country of origin, arriving all together on the Italian coast, during the 1990’s (Vincenzi. Italy: A Newcomer with a Positive Attitude?).

The procedure left by the Martelli law became a very difficult procedure for incoming refugees. The main issue was the time it took to receive documents, as told by a discussion with officials from a non-government organization center helping refugees in Rome. The steps involve applying for refugee status is first one has to come into Italy on his or her own will. Then they must apply at a police station; here they are giving permission to stay in Italy until an appointment can be made to go in front of a commission to determine refugee status. This usually takes up to three months, so permission to stay is until then. If the commission granted refugee status, now the refugee has permission to stay in Italy for five years and allow traveling. Although this procedure also follows the Dublin system, which prevents the refugee from going from country to country, taking advantage of each country’s offerings for refugees. The claim will only be dealt with one state, the first one of entry. So with this, a refugee that has claimed asylum in Italy, is allowed to travel to other countries and live there without refugee assistance. If not, the refugee is to return to Italy. At the Joel Nafuma refugee center, there were many stories about refugees leaving to other countries but then returning after some time.

Currently Italy is now being faced with a number of problems because of its policy of asylum. With the political unrest of the Middle East and North Africa, there have been recent uprisings in the fight for democracy. Because of this citizens of these countries have been fleeing from the fighting and escaping to the nearest country providing asylum, Italy. Refugee camps along the southern coasts of Italy are now being flooded with those seeking refuge from the fighting. This has been a problem for the past decade and it’s only getting worst with the conflicts in North Africa. Refugee camps are completely over crowded and people are now forced to live outside in makeshift tents and there aren’t enough supplies to go around. The other problem is that the common entry points into Italy are now being flooded and it is becoming difficult for Italian officials distinguishing who is seeking asylum under the UNHCR’s current definition of a refugee or those just escaping from the fighting. These entry points are also favorite areas for human traffickers and Italian officials fear of the exploitation of the influx in these areas. There are also some reports of terrorist organizations also using the influx of these entry points for their own use of getting into Europe. What Italian government has proposed is that entry from sea should not be considered legally recognized and actions have been set forth in relation to this proposal. The Italian Navy have been intercepting boats between Italy and North Africa, treating them with medical support and relief but then turn them back. Another practice is when these displaced people and potential asylum seekers reach the coast of Italy to treat them and then take them onto planes back to Africa. All of this is done without due process, violating article 33 of the 1951 Geneva Convention. The UNHCR was granted access to interview potential asylum seekers but it wasn’t until after most were already sent back.

Till this day, Italy’s policy regarding asylum is still in question. As the civil unrest of North Africa continues it bring thousands of people seeking refuge from the fighting in their country of origin. In my opinion, Italy is using this open-endedness to their advantage so that they can refuse potential asylum seekers and considering this justified under the claims of protecting their boarders. Some argue that it overlooks article 1 of the Geneva Convention stating that each potential asylum seeker has to be considered under due process as they are returning these people as quickly as they make it to the boarders of Italy. But this goes into the controversy of the Convention. It was constructed for refugees of European countries and the Martelli Law was supposed to incorporate refugees from non-European countries. This is where the discussion comes into play, where does the Convention law of 1951 and the Martelli Law of 1990 meet?

Work Cited

“Italy 'facing refugees crisis'”. ( February 11, 2011.

Coomerasamy, James. “Inside Italy's growing refugee camps.” ( March 20, 2002.

Hatton, Timothy J. “European Asylum Policy.” National Institute Economic Review No. 194. 2005.

Kreickenbaum, Martin. “Italy carries out mass deportation of refugees.” ( October 9, 2004.

Lister, Tim. “Italy: al Qaeda will exploit North African migrant flood.” ( February 18, 2011.

Stoyanova-Yerburgh, Zornitsa. “Seeking Asylum in the EU.” ( June 11, 2008.

Vincenzi, Stefano. “Italy: A Newcomer with a Positive Attitude?” Oxford University Press 2000. Journal of Refugee Studies Vol. 13, No. 1. 2000.

Rione Trevi

Trevi fountain, an infamous fountain found in the city center of Rome. It encompasses an entire side of Palazzo Poli and it is the largest fountain in all of Rome. With all this said, the fountain is just a part of what many might not know about, the Rioni of Trevi. Rione in Rome was a way to split up the city center into different regions and giving them their own coat of arms, Trevi is the second of the now 22. Located along the southwest side of Quirinale hill, it is home to many important sites of historical Rome. The name derives from Medieval Latin “trivium” meaning the crossroads of three roads, hence the coat of arms having three swords, representing the three roads that converge near where the Trevi fountain is now. But now this area is where tourist flock to throw coins over their shoulders for a variety of reasons.

The entire Rione of Trevi has had significance in the city of Rome throughout all of the timeline of Rome. During antiquity, the hill was used by the Romans to worship such deities as excavations in gardens have found idols of worship. The Aqua Virgin, built in 19AD was one of the aqueducts that supplied ancient Rome with spring water was also here and was well maintained throughout the Middle Ages. With the fall of the Roman Empire, residents moved from the hill closer to the Tiber River. It wasn’t until during the renaissance that Trevi was urbanized with the addition of roads, churches, and fountains. Quirinale Hill was prime location for those looking for as it was away from all the busy city life that was at the bottom of the hill next to the Tiber River. This carried onto the papal period, as it was the center of a lot of political importance. By this time there were two major changes to the Rioni, Trevi fountain was built to replace an old fountain of the Aqua Virgin aqueduct and Quirinale Palace was built. This area was also being torn down and being rebuilt, changing the demography of the Rione.

The fountain of Trevi was built in the mid 1700’s as a celebration to the end of Aqua Virgin aqueduct. A common misconception was that Bernini designed the fountain but as story goes; Pope Urban VIII asked Bernini to stretch out some drawings to replace the less dramatic fountain that was originally there, but after the death of Urban VIII, the plan is thrown out. It wasn’t for another century, 1730, that the new fountain was commissioned to work on by Nicola Silva. Construction began at the peak of Baroque design, so evidently the fountain is in design of the era. Silva died in 1951 leaving the fountain undone, Giuseppe Pannini finished it in 1762 adding the two statues on both sides of Neptune. The significance of the fountain is the central figure of Neptune riding a shell shaped chariot being pulled by two seahorses guided by tritons. The horses themselves represent the fluctuating moods of sea, one being calm and obedient, and the other is restive. On the left of Neptune is Agrippa, the general who commissioned to build the Aqua Virgin aqueduct and on the opposite of Neptune stands the Roman virgin who help find the spring, which was the source of water of the previous aqueduct. In the upper panels, it also depicts the story of a young girl helping soldiers find the source of water. There are several different interpretations of the legend of Trevi fountain, but the overall objective is that if one wishes to return to Rome, for them to throw a coin with their right hand over their left shoulder, all while facing away from the fountain. The money collected in the fountain is used for charity purposes.

Quirinale Palace was built towards the latter half of the renaissance, in 1583, as Pope Gregory VIII used it as a papal summer residence. The location was chosen because it was far enough away from the smell of the Tiber River, which at the time was also Rome’s sewage outlet. From there on it was used as the headquarters of the papal state and used as conclave four times before the state of over thrown. During the unification of Italy and with Rome becoming the capital, Quirinale Palace became the official residence of the Kings of Italy. Although there were some monarchs that did choose to live in their own private residence. Then from 1947 the palace housed the president of the republic of Italy. The piazza in front of the palace is home to a fountain that was pulled from all different parts of Rome and assembled throughout centuries. The two figures are of Caster and Pollux, twin brothers that were horse tamers in both ancient Greek and Roman mythology, these statues originally stood in front of the bath houses of Constantine but brought over in 1588. The obelisk in between them was found during the excavation of Mausoleum of Augustus, which came in 1781. Finally the fountain itself was actually a watering trough for cattle in from the Roman Forum and brought in 1818. Scuderie del Quirinale, across the palace was a stable, housing one hundred and twenty horses strictly for the use of the Pope and his guest. Now it is used for temporary exhibitions that come through Rome.

Trevi is also home to over 20 churches that were built around the time of urbanization of the region. Something noticeable about the churches in this Rione is that they are smaller than other churches around Rome, this could be because the lack of room in the crowded Rioni. The Church of Saint Vicenzo and Anastacio, across from Trevi fountain, is very significant as it houses the hearts of over twenty Popes. Along with churches, the Rioni was home to several noble families such as the Barbernini’s and the Urban’s. Both families used Bernini to design and build various artwork and fountains for them. In Piazza Barbernini, the Tritone Fountain was one of Bernini’s first freestanding fountains. This fountain influenced his fountain in Piazza Navona. Now the piazza is an example of the progression of the Rioni, it looks somewhat out of place with its surrounding tall buildings but when it was originally constructed in 1642, it fit in with the buildings neighboring it. Bernini also design and built another fountain, this came second as the Tritone fountain didn’t suit the needs of those attempting to gather water from it. The Api fountain was designed for just that, it also located in the Piazza Barbernini but with the family’s bees on the bottom of it. Barbernini’s palace is also near by where Bernini designed a lot of the artwork in there.

When choosing Rioni for this project, I thought it was strictly based on the fountain. But I actually thought the opposite, the fountain is built and based from the Rione. Take away the thousands of tourist and tourist traps this Rioni is a fine example of the progression of the different eras Rome has went through and ability to adapt and survive the change.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

blog assignment #8

Throughout my time here in Rome, my service learning took place in Joel Nafuma Refugee Center. Located in the crypt of the church, it offers a place for congregation for political refugees of Rome. The reason for this is because the refugee camps in Rome close during the day and literally kick out the refugees at 8am and don’t allow them to come back until 5pm. The center is here for refugees to be able to come to a place that is safe, accepting, and neutral for them to get off the streets. The center is open to refugees from 8am to 2pm, here the refugees are given general commodities such as shaving razors, lotion, soup and shampoo, tooth brushes and clothes. In the center, there are game tables, a television, and a classroom. Everyday, they get served tea and a small snack, and two times a week they get lunch.

I chose the refugee center because I’ve done some work with the South East Asian refugee community in Seattle and thought it would be interesting to see the comparisons from Rome and Seattle. The first time we went to the center, it was after 2 and we were able to talk to members that ran the center. After this introduction my impression of the center wasn’t the best, they basically explained the worst that could happen and that these refugees were very emotional distraught. Although this wasn’t what I experienced while with my time there, I felt that there were some hostilities but none of them expressed it to us. In my opinion, I think they were being courteous as they were still representing their countries of origin.

In the two days we’d go in a week, we were able to experience both the morning and afternoon sessions there. What we do in the mornings was to split up and help out with usual things in the morning, help with tea, handing out necessities, and teaching English. In the afternoon session we all would be in the classroom helping teach English and typing. In the mornings I helped with handing out things and the problem with this was the language, I didn’t speak much Italian and most of the refugees didn’t either. So with the development of hand signals and me learning what the names of certain things helped resolve that problem quickly. The other problem that occurred a lot was the refugees waiting in line for these things. I don’t think the problem was them not respecting one another, I think it was some felt they didn’t need to wait. Sometimes this was acceptable as some would want something quick and wouldn’t affect the flow of the line but there were others that did the exact opposite. I tried to regulate this by standing in the front of the line and seeing what people would need and telling them to wait in line. Then the issue with this was that I had no authority to tell these people what to do and some felt that way and would let me know through profanity and racist comments. I took no mind to them.

Throughout the weeks, coming to the refugee center was easier since we knew what we were doing and got used to it all. The only thing that was hard was approaching the refugees, the first day we were all in the classroom we were told not to force anything on the refugees, “if they wanted to learn English they’ll come into the classroom.” This was the same way with talking to them, if they wanted to talk, they’ll talk to you. So that’s how it was, we just let them approach us and talk about what they wanted to talk about and a lot of them did want to talk. It would always start the same, they would come up and ask where we were from, most of the time they wouldn’t believe it when I said I was American since I was of Asian decent. Many would leave after me telling them I was American as they taught I wasn’t being truthful to them so they didn’t feel the need to talk to me anymore, but there were some that were curious to why I called myself American and wanted to know more. Then I would explain to them that I’m an Asian American and America, for the most part, is diverse. I was also able to connect with them by telling them that my parents were refugees and from there it was easier to ask questions, this was usually the start of my informal interviews. I was only able to do this with probably a total of three of them but it was fun and enlightening as I got a lot of information about their treatment here in Rome and a first person view on the regulations and policies of refugees in Europe.

After our time at the refugee center, my impressions changed a lot. A lot of them just didn’t want to be singled out. They did this in many different ways, some examples was the clothes they choose to wear and the wanting to lose their accents. At first, with the clothes I thought that they were picky but it could be because they wanted to look apart of Italian society and not stand out. So physically looks they could fit in, but then it was their English. Some of them knew English, but with their accents and grammer, they could easily be considered foreigner. That’s why the only things they wanted to learn in class; was how to lose their foreign accent. It wasn’t until afterwards thinking about why they were so picky with the clothes and English that I came up with the idea that they were afraid of standing out. Although this could all be me over analyzing things and they could just be picky and want to improve their English.

All in all, I feel that my time at the refugee center was quite informative, enjoyable, and I am happy I was given the opportunity to be apart of it. I was able to learn more on what we’ve been learning here about issues towards non-Italians and being able to compare refugee policies with another country, other than America. Although, I did have some questions that were unanswered about the center; I wanted to know why whomever started this did so. Also there were no women there, and there were only people from Afghanistan and Africa, I wanted to know where the others were. Finding the answers are probably very easy to answer with the contacts that I have with the center and I could easily ask over phone or email.

Monday, February 28, 2011

blog assignment #7

The past eight weeks of my stay here in Rome, my view of Italy has changed dramatically from what it was before coming. One issue that is very complicated and always up for discussion is the authenticity of something that is considered Italian, what and who is Italian? This can only be supported by the definition of culture and how it is a social construct that is not static and is always changing. Describing an Italian, especially a Roman, is probably very different then what it was 30 years ago than what it is now. In the past few decades there have been some major events that have and that are still happening where the result is reshaping Rome and Italy altogether; issues such as education, immigration, and the definition of the youth. These are all changing and it’s hard to say what is authentically Italian and what isn’t with the integration of the recent diaspora of migrants coming into Italy. Each issue is different and is happening on its own pace, although they are all intertwined with one another creating one web that I feel is what is “Italian” now.

Immigration has been a major issue impacting everything across Italy. Immigrants and refugees have been coming into Italy as they ultimately come looking for better opportunities for themselves and their families. This has been a recent occurrence but there is a certain group that has been over looked but has shown a presence for over 500 years, the Roma. Commonly mistaken and stereotyped as gypsies the Roma community has been completely other’d from anything Italian. But for how long they’ve been in Italy? It has to be long enough for native Italians to become accustomed to the their presence, isn’t that Italian? Immigrants and Roma both affect the education system here in Rome and Italy after the law that was passed to have students required to attend school, regardless of their legal status. The integration of their children is now being incorporated to Italy’s curriculum with Italian language and religion classes. Another aspect with the schools is the diversity of the classroom with all these students now apart of it; the next generation of Italians will be diverse. There has been some debate over this though, Gelmini has recently passed decrees effecting migrant students as one of the regulations is to have the demography of a classroom to not exceed 30% immigrant student.

Outside of education, the presence of different non-Italian communities is very well known. Another group that was oppressed by Italians were the Jewish. Here in Rome, home of the Vatican, the Jewish community was forced to live in a certain part of town which was literally walled off from the rest of the city, the Jewish ghetto. Although now the walls are gone, for the most part, and new buildings have been put up the Jewish community still congregate in the common area of the ghetto as their synogog is still located there. According to our tour guide at the synogog, other than religious difference, the Jewish community has completely integrated into Italian society. With the Vatican and the Jewish synogog, another place of worship for another group is the Muslim mosque. With members of the Islamic faith growing, Rome is actually home to Europe’s largest Mosque, although there were rules to completing such a project; it couldn’t be in the city walls, could not be higher or seen from St. Peters, in Vatican city. As the mosque is a place of worship for more immigrants of such faith, our tour guide there did mention a small group of Italian Muslims coming there. One problem that I am noticing here in Rome is that there is a presence of Chinese immigrants here, but no temple of any sort.

This could be a sign of the Chinese being sojourners and do not plan to consider Rome a home for them. With our visit to CARITAS today, another example of how the Chinese community here in Rome is not trying to integrate as most elder don’t speak Italian. But with a group a volunteers there has been an effort to incorporate the Chinese. This subject is very comparable to the history of the Chinese in America, as they first came strictly to work and planned to return with their earned money but with rules and taxes imposed on foreigners the Chinese could do nothing else but stay and live their lives there.

With all these conflicts with the diversity of Rome, I feel this is affecting the youth in different ways. I feel they are most tolerant to these recent changes in reshaping the definition of national identity of Italy, or they must not care. But it will only continue to change with all the controversy in north Africa and with more eastern European countries seeking better opportunities in Italy. So to answer the question: what and who is Italian? To me, all of this is. When I was first accepted to this program the only thing I could think about Italy is a hefty Italian with a big mustache speaking with his hands at a pizza parlor and “giodos” and “giedettes” from MTV’s Jersey Shore. But now, if I had to describe what and who is Italian, I’d say the native Italian walking around with shiny puffy jackets, the Bangladeshi vendors at the market in Pizza Victtorio, the Chinese selling clothes outside of the market, the Africans selling bootleg purses, the refugees at St. Paul’s are all Italian in my eyes. I feel language is a big factor to identity, as one can learn customs and traditions through the language. Italian is no different and a person knowing and speaking it regularly is only going to become more and more to the generalization of an Italian.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Critical incidents from 21/2 readings

This story follows a character returning to her to her place of upbringing, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I don’t feel that her being of mixed race, not even of Cambodian decent, was a critical incident. There was one quote that caught my attention, when thinking about what we’ve learned in class. “It was natural to think about the crocodiles, their unseen and furtive presence was, however, well-known by the inhabitants of the area (p.31, paragraph 3).” When I thought about this quote, all I thought about was the Roma community of Italy, as they are on the backdrop of Italian society. The following paragraph of the quote talks about a method farmers used to kill the crocodiles, this again I felt was a very rough comparison to the Roma, how Italy has “other’d” them, even though they’ve been inhabitants of Italy for centuries now.

“Give Me Back My Coat”
I didn’t really get this story. One question is what did the character go through to make him decide that death was the only way out? But reading it a second time, I don’t think the character wanted to actual kill himself but to feel belonged. I say this because he kept talking about all the different ways he could of killed himself but he always had a reason not to do it that way. Also he went to the bar to have some last drinks with some people and then there was the one person that the main character could be envious of, the person with the job interview and took his coat. This here I interpreted in the way where he wanted to see if the person succeeded that’s why he wanted to have his jacket back from the person after they are done using it.

“Light Beer and Peanuts”
Identity seemed to be a major part of this story as the character went through her own issues involving her identity throughout her life. I feel the reason she ended up the way she did was because how she was brought up; her father said she had nothing to do with India and her mother was trying to keep her from looking Indian. What I wanted to know was why she went back to India when she told herself that she wouldn’t. Also after visiting India, how did she feel and did anything change for herself after returning at an older age, able to understand more?

“The B-Line”
Although this was shorter than the rest, I felt it had a lot to say. “Far from the forest, the lion cannot roar like it used to (p.55, paragraph 1).” This quote expresses how immigrants and refugees go through, as they are far from their country and are usually never able to be what they were in their new homes. In some occurrences it could benefit emerging cultures as they are able to create a new identity for themselves and/or their cultural background. Or it can do the opposite and just reinforce stereotypes.

“The Beggar”
Up to now, this story has been my favorite out of the selection of stories in the book. I enjoyed the way the author connected the words that each person gave in the story. It easily gave imagery to each one of them, even though there wasn’t a lot given and the beggar was blind. What was interesting was the name of the church the beggar went to, the Church of Consolation, and the only words he was getting from there were very oriented. This could tie with the hegemony of Rome, the Church. Home to the Vatican, Rome is very church oriented and I feel that has hindered the progression of tolerance towards the immigrant community.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

blog assignment #6

When people hear of Trevi, they automatically think of the fountain. Trevi’s main focal point is the fountain; it is one of the main attractions to see when coming to Rome and to be honest, the same went for me. All I knew was that it was the largest fountain in Rome and the person in the middle of the fountain is Neptune, the god of the sea. The first time I was there it was very astounding, I came to Rome by myself and a few days before the program started so I was just walking about and seeing all the sights on the map. All through my walks I came across fountain after fountain and it was nice to see them compared to back in Seattle. But then I walked over to the Trevi fountain and it was something else. There were flocks of people everywhere and I could tell that this was a tourist trap as there was a ton of gelato shops, souvenir shops, pizzerias and restaurants there.

The assignment for this blog was for my partner and I to go to the rione and interview people in the area; at least one resident and one visitor. We came across a couple who looked like tourist and to find out later they were visiting from Sweden. We asked questions about if they knew anything about the area and why they chose to go there. Standing in the pouring rain, the first response was that it would have been a lot better if it weren’t raining. But besides the rain, they said that they enjoyed the area though they came pretty much for the fountain and didn’t know anything else about the area. They didn’t know anything about different rioni in Rome. I would have to agree, as I didn’t know anything about this until going into more dept with my studies here in Rome.

Getting out of the rain, we stopped into a gelato shop and spoke to one of the employees. She was actually an Albanian student here in Italy but has been here for 10 years. She is studying international relations and has only been working at the shop for a little over a year. She was able to help us by giving us a different perspective of the neighborhood. All the businesses around the fountain cater to tourist and knowing that they can capitalize from this, things are usually marked up. Another way these businesses were making money was the employment they were hiring. Our interviewee told us that usually immigrants work in the businesses around Trevi because they pay less. According to her, there isn’t a lot of places for someone to live in Trevi, its more businesses and for the ones that are there are expensive. She doesn’t live in Trevi because she said it cost too much to live there. She also said that in the historical area, it’s all expensive but everyone want so live there. She didn’t know much about the area other than that. We tried to find someone else but it was pouring down rain and not a lot of people were out other than tourist.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reflection on readings 14/2/2011

After reading the introduction and asssigned short story, I did have a lot to agree with what was being said. In the intro, I really enjoyed the quote of a migrant leaving three mothers. The third mother being the mother language is, in my opinion, very true when looking at a language other than English. To make a long discussion short, it’s easily analyzed by how the expression of one’s self is articulated; in English there is three ways to say it; me, myself, and I. In other languages I’ve studied (Khmer, Japanese, Spanish, and Italian) there’s only one way to say “I.” I feel this is what makes learning English as a second language difficult. Although these short stories deal with immigrants in Italy and they are dealing with native tongue of Italy, not English, the connection is when one has to leave their mother tongue where it’s only a part of what they are leaving.

In the short story titled Salvation, I feel that the main character of this story had a reason to leave his “mother country.” He came to Italy for work and once home he was confronted with hosting distant relatives who were also seeking food, shelter, and work. With the incidents that happen as he helps out fellow migrants, he decides to stop helping them and lies to the next one saying that they must convert to Christianity if they wanted to come to Italy. After reading this some questions come up; who helped him when he got to Italy? Is it a cultural obligation to help distant family members? Who’s considered family members? All in all this story gives a point of view of a fight between sacrificing social status and order against an obligation to help fellow country folk.