Leslie Ibeanusi

Leslie Ibeanusi (Transnational AIDS Prevention among Migrant Prostitutes in Europe Project – TAMPEP): Leslie earned her BS in biology at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia (2001-2005). In 2005, she was crowned as the inaugural Miss Nigeria in America, where she represented young Nigerian women of the diaspora. Since then, she has become passionately involved in global health and social justice issues affecting women and children in African countries. She had also co-founded a nonprofit called Making Noise Inc, which uses the arts and media to raise awareness of social justice issues in Africa countries. At the time of her fellowship, Leslie had just graduated from the School of Public Health and Health Sciences at the George Washington University in Washington, DC, where she received her Master's in public health with a concentration in global health promotion.

Italy. I’ve Arrived.

11 Jun

I now know that traffic, MoTown, and rain are universal things. Here I was, newly arrived in Turin, sitting in a nice taxi (fully equipped with a TomTom navigation device) in Turinese traffic. Yes, even here in beautiful Turin, people leave work in massè to fight for right of way on the streets. It was comforting and annoying at the same time- part of me kept repeating to myself “Wow! I’m in traffic in Italy….wow!” and the other part just wanted to get to my apartment to sleep (We had to wake up 3am EST in preparation for landing!).

I sat in the cab, fighting sleep and sitting through the forced stuffy silence that language barriers create. I would sneak a glance at the cabdriver, and I could see him secretly glance back at me through the rearview mirror. After a few minutes, he switched the radio on, and sounds of old school jams from MoTown wafted through the speakers. He turned it louder, perhaps as a way of talking to me. I laughed to myself…Yes, even here, people jam to MoTown! Had I been sitting in traffic in Washington DC, I would have immediately switched the station. However, since I was hearing it in a different country, my ears craned to hear and my toes tapped lightly to the familiar beats. Yes, good music is universal.

The cab pulled up to my apartment door, and I sat back and accessed the area. It was a cute place….kind of like Adams Morgan in DC or Little Five Points in Atlanta. I was to ring the door bell for my landlord’s son, and he would show me into my studio. I rang the bell once…twice…three times….no answer. My stomach knotted up…fear came across me…was the apartment contract a hoax? Horror stories I’d read earlier about Italian landlords not renting to Africans came back to mind. Did he see me out the window and refuse my entrance? Just when I was about to really lose it, he answered the door, and shortly after, came running down the stairs with a big smile. “Welcome to Borgo Dora!” he said. We struggled through a conversation of broken English and broken Italian, that was interspersed with our periodic giggles because we couldn’t understand each other at times. We walked up several flight of stairs to reach my apartment and , finally, I was in my home away from home. After surveying my room, I tried to plug in my laptop and get signed on to the Internet. No response…rather I smelled smoke! I immediately unplugged it, and retried the process…No response again. My connection to home was gone…no Skype, webcams, email, English…nothing. It was now just me and the sounds of Italian television streaming through my room. After being so tired, this seemingly small issue nearly brought me to tears…honestly. As I stood in my apartment, frustrated and confused, thunder sounded in the distance. I opened the windows and watched the rain pour with fury on those outside. Yes, thank God rain is universal. I opened my windows wide, cleared my bed, and wrapped myself in my little Kenyan blanket, a treasured gift from my boyfriend. As the rain fell, I closed my eyes and forced myself to sleep…and to temporarily forget where I was. Yes, thank God, rain is universal.

DISCLAIMER: I dont normally cry over non-functional laptops…However, after lack of rest and missing my connecting flight earlier, this hit me when I was down! After being here for a week now, all is well, and I’m all smiles:)

Posted By Leslie Ibeanusi

Posted Jun 11th, 2007

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