After a week of chasing planes, trains, and metros, I have finally made it to the beautiful city of Alghero. So far, it has been so interesting hearing about everyone's experiences and it seems like we are all getting pretty settled in. I wanted to start off by saying that I am honored to learn with a group like ours- well-rounded and open-hearted. The past few weeks we have been constantly challenging the truth in academics, in news and media, in the U.S. government as a hegemonic body, nationally and globally and cultivativating an abundance in people-centered theories and approaches that help us understand the truth for those uncounted for or otherwise marginalized. I cannot say how lucky we are to work alongside the Romani community, activists, and Italian professors to see what efforts are currently being made through research to create a political tool for reappropriating the discourse on Roma.
Personally, I have been making note of the things I see and thinking about the way our current events may shape our perspectives. For instance, we can talk about the Brexit and how it enables xenophobia and allows more people to scapegoat immigrants for economic suffering rather than confronting the austerity measures and policies created by politicians themselves. We could argue that this was due to populism and nationalism like many of conflicts increasing poverty and violence in other marginalized communities like the Romani. We could relate our current presidential race to the political manipulation of public opinion, and we can see the increase in resistance in areas that struggle with this which has not necessarily resulted in any change. In Oaxaca for example, teachers union members protested against the government for the educational reform but that resulted in the violent repression of these individuals.
Earlier this week, I woke up in Greece thinking about the things going back home in the states, particularly Minnesota and Louisiana and realized I am now here in the place I was always thinking of when I was home. When there's a suicide bombing on the other side of the world people automatically feel safe because we live in the U.S. and not in ‘other’ places. The truth is, no matter where you are in the world, there's always something ugly going on and we have to fight for those who deserve to be treated as equals. Refugees, Muslims, and black lives alike, we are all just humans and the issues are more or less created by those in power.
My experience in Italy has been nothing short of welcoming. The sightseeing is great, the food is delicious, the gelato is only 1 euro if you get lucky, the people are eager to help, and transportation is very easy to navigate if you aren't afraid of getting out there! The language here is beautiful and I enjoy the challenge of starting conversation even though it may end in lots of random hand gestures from both sides. I've gotten the most practice on trains and restaurants as I'm always remembering the names from product labels and random words I've heard. I'm usually right 90% of the time, but I owe this to a old man I had met on my train to Venice who gladly repeated phrases with me back and forth for the full 3.5 hours. Any Taranath asks, "What does "connecting across differences" really mean?" I know that we can all relate to his story and I want to challenge myself to also keep in mind the historical, cultural and geopolitical positions we occupy (Taranath, 2016).
I am already starting to tie together so many of the concepts we have discussed as the culture here has so much to do with the way health and migration intersect. I know it was difficult for us to see much going on in the more touristy areas but I look forward to all the days we have ahead and look forward to reading and sharing all of our perspectives!
Taranath, Anu. (2016). Out and About as a Global Citizen. VONA Special Issue: Winter 2016. Retrieved from http://awayjournal.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/young-698939_640.