So, here I am in Italy – the land of plenty of fresh and delicious food, cheap wine, awful public transportation, and maniac drivers. And recently a country of immigration, trafficking with an economic recession. And I have to say, I love it here! Viva la Italia.
First few days brought a disappointment with the TrenItalia and train stations. But more importantly, I am already falling in love with the fresh food market outside of my apartment, the hospitality and friendliness of the Italian people. Contrary to my expectations and my experiences from my other trips to Italy couple of years ago, most Italians here in Turin speak some English or French, and my knowledge of Italian is increasing rapidly as well.
For the first few days, my main way of communication was to announce that I do not speak Italian (“no parlo italiano”) and to communicate with the wonderful means of sign language and other forms of body language – and a smile can get you far here in Italy. After a week, I am a proud owner of more than ten sentences in Italian and can easily buy a tram ticket, order a cap of cappuccino, ask for directions, and the most important have a small talk – making new friends have suddenly become much easier!
This has been increasingly important at my internship as well- although some staff members speak very good English, some do not. I, therefore, always have the most questions at the end of the meetings. Nonetheless, I try not to let the language barrier to stop me from participating fully in the daily activities of the office and am courageously wading through the ‘pile’ of computer files in Italian and other documents.
These first few days at the office have been incredibly enlightening. TAMPEP was working on the final version of the final report on the ALNIMA project to the European Commission. ALNIMA is an extremely innovative project, co-ordinated by TAMPEP and sponsored by the European Union that aims at addressing the problem of repatriation and the life after the arrival to the home country of immigrants, prisoners and trafficked women from Albania, Marroco and Nigeria. It achieved a great deal of good work trying to help the deported prisoners and people from deported from temporary detention centers to start a new life after their arrival; the project was also addressed to the people at risk of illegal migration. This has been achieved through the establishment of training session, micro-credit schemes and self-capacity building courses. The project tries therefore to pre-empt the attempts of the returnees at immigrate again, mostly illegally by creating opportunities in their home countries – setting up their own business, etc. This has been an incredible lesson of empowerment.
My small role in the final stage of the project was to assist TAMPEP with the English version of the project. And so I spent three days, including Saturday, something quite extraordinary for the lunch-break/weekend/holiday loving Italians, (P)olishing the English version of the report. Me and another staff member, Melania, toiled over the ninety pages of the report – it was a bonding experience I must say.
Having read the report and having done some more in-depth research on the activities of TAMPEP, I have to say that I am amazed at the quantity and quality of the work done here. The commitment of the small staff of the office is truly remarkable; and the originality and innovativeness of the projects undertaken admirable taking into account the limited financial and technical resources of the office. I truly look forward to spending the next two months here, hopefully contributing to the work done by TAMPEP.
Posted By Ewa Sobczynska
Posted Jun 21st, 2005