Journal Summary 2009 – March 20th Equinox
In the last two weeks I’ve had a bit of time to really get into work and settle into it. Specifically three things have distracted me from this bent – the departure of my friends for the U.S., Africa, and Greece…my own travel planning for May…and my continued foray into the darker areas of Milan seeking the full picture of a metropolitan area in Italy.
In my opinion the concept of violent crime is one that is shocking to Italians. It is only recently that Italians have had to deal with increased small crime, rising murder/rape rates and they have avoided the idea that it is Italians themselves who are perpetrating the majority. The amount of fear in the populace has skyrocketed due to political and media manipulation of the facts. Every day the media runs stories about the Rom – the Romanian/gypsy population that live in communes around cities and towns throughout Italy. This media attention is driving increased hatred and fear of immigrant populations within Italy and furthering support for their removal.
As is happening in the U.S., immigration is becoming a major issue. However, unlike the U.S. which has a sustainable birthrate (2.1 babies per woman) Italy is not breeding fast enough to maintain its population. In addition, the population that is present is aging quickly placing a heavy burden on the extensive social welfare system here. Thus immigration is a necessary factor in the Italian economy especially the labor sectors. With the economic slowdown and the increased layoffs many Italians, like nationals of countries through the world, are feeling cheated out of jobs that they had happily abandoned to immigrants in their quest for a higher quality of life. This rift is boiling under the seams of Italy’s britches. I can only imagine what its next step will be. The news seems to foster support for total expulsion which would destroy Italy’s labor sector and remove cheaper labor sources forcing price increases… it does not bode well for the country.
I am constantly surprised by facets of Italian culture. Again and again the differences between the north and south stand out like a flame in a darkened wine cellar. Southern Italians in general appear to be louder, more opinionated and less politically concerned. Additionally they eat later. I was classified as southern the other day because my roommates and I eat dinner around 9-10pm instead of before 8. Italians are also very good at picking out where another Italian is from. In part this is due to the fragmented remainders of different dialects. The Italian language wasn’t unified until relatively recently and as such dialects and pronunciation differences are still quite pronounced. I’ve begun to recognize subtle differences – folks from Napoli for instance just leave off the last few letters on their words, leading to forchett (fork) Amic (friends) Aspett (wait) and other variations.
Paul approached me to assist in the creation of an intern resource page and faq’s for incoming interns for mission Italy – I’m pretty excited at the prospect.
T- 4 days to bro’s B-day – T- 3.5 months to UK w/ him!
This weekend I plan to venture out into Milan suburbs considered to be less than wonderful (slums). I don’t feel my personal safety will be called into question but I’ll also be wandering during around midday to avoid any question. It’s part of my desire to catalog the different sectors here for my independent study paper on Milan’s changing physical form.
I’m feeling better and the week long cold/sinus issue I’ve had is on its last leg. It’s a battle I’m steadily winning. Tonight we go out to celebrate Paul’s birthday. More later.