Background information about the picture above:
This picture was painted on a back of a Hotel in Sassari that has been abandoned from 1930s-1940s. It has now been occupied by homeless people. Previously they have wanted to break it down and build a beautiful landscape but Italy is all about restoring. The turtle represents slow progress, the houses represent the homes for single husbands that were abandoned by their wivrs that have moved away. The picture also represents the destruction of what humans can do to a town.
Today we embarked our first journey into the town of Alghero, Sardinia, Italy. We took a train as a way of transportation to and from the town. Before the program started, my friends, family, and even the people on this program have warned me about the dangers of people living in this area. One of the warnings that they gave me was to be aware of pick pocketing on the trains. When we were getting ready to board, I had a fear that my stuff was going to be stolen. As I got on, there was no one who I have deemed to be dangerous in anyway. The stories that I have listened to from people who are close to me changed my attitude and my experience of the train ride or people who live in Italy.
In class, the speakers presented on the Introduction to Romani people in Italy, Anthropological Overview of Romani people in Sardinia, and Romani People: From Camps to Houses. This lecture was very informative and very educational about the Romani population. One of the speakers mentioned that the Romani population was labeled as “socially dangerous race” by Catholics. I am personally Catholic and this was new information to me. The reason why the Catholic population wanted to eliminated the entire Romani population is because they were not the same as them (religious reasons) and they were “creating a unique culture” that needed to be stopped. The fear and they stereotypes that have been being passed down from generation to generation has limited and labeled all Romani people as dangerous. As discussed in our pre-departure course, the art of story telling. Storytelling is really emphases and is used as a tool of empowerment to have to Romani population be heard.
With this population, stories have originated from centuries back that have dehumanized and have built of this wall of inequality before they could even present themselves and be exploited to the world. In the video we have watch for our pre-departure course, “The Danger of a Single Story” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, she emphasizes that there are a variety of ways of presenting or telling a story based on who is telling it (socio status, education, etc.). She mentioned that “power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definite story of the person.” (Adichie, 2009). This relates to our class lecture at the University of Sardinia, about how of person of power, for example Hitler and the pope in Catholic Churches, have labeled and defined the whole population of the Romani population because they are different from them. A person with higher power can control others perceptions and actions towards others because they have a higher status.
What I have learned:
What I have personally learned from the first couple of days on this journey is the feeling of being an outsider. Comparing myself to the people who have come over to America not knowing our culture and our language is a very difficult journey for them. I am not saying that I completely understand how they feel. My experience in Italy has been very difficult whether it is asking them for directions, ordering food, or paying, I sympathize more for the population that have traveled from their country to America and trying to “fit” into our culture. America is so culturally diverse we label them and put them into categories so we understand them. We place them into a bubble which restrict them from branching out and not them voice out who them really are. In America we do things a certain to way that we seem to be socially acceptable and have this herd mentality. Going to back to what I have previously mentioned about Hitler and Catholics wanting to eliminate the Romani population because they are not like them is history repeating itself but we are moving them out of major cities and putting them into camps in a environment that is barely livable. I’m excited and very grateful to learn more from the Romani population in ways which they have progressed to get out of those stereotypes and oppression in which they live in and create a new life for themselves while still representing the Romani population. Studying abroad has been a challenge with the culture shock, but this has opened my eyes up to what a difference the culture is from America.
Adichie, Chimamanda, (July 2009). Transcript of “The Danger of a Single Story”. TedTalk. Retrieved: https://canvas.uw.edu/courses/950932/files/36228020/download?verifier=d8jQK6V0LGWnYSvwspvPbMEQ2113Qv85cfAXbxVb&wrap=1