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Another Italy Exhibition: Other Realities

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During her speech on Monday evening, October 2nd, at the opening ceremonies of Italian Heritage Month, Ms. Serena Scaiola, Honorary Consul of Italy in Cleveland and Ohio, called our attention to "Another Italy: Other Realities" a photo exhibition displayed on the second floor of Cleveland City Hall which documented the backstories of 25 people from Mexico who decided to relocate to Italy. This exhibition is sponsored by "John Carroll University", "Notre Dame College", the "Italian Consulate in Detroit & the U.S.", ""Italyinus.org", and the "Bishop Pilla Program in Italian American Studies at JCU".

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We walked upstairs to see the photos and study the narratives that accompanied each photo. We discovered that many of the those depicted immigrated to Italy due to relationships some of which resulted in marriage although others had heard or read about Italy and wanted to live there. Once there, they faced problems dealing with the language and the culture not dissimilar to what people who immigrate to the United States have to go through. One of the expatriates commented that from his/her perspective life was a lot faster in the area of Italy where he/she resided and not as much emphasis was placed on religion in one's everyday life in Italy as it was in Mexico although Italy is home to the Vatican. Likewise, several people commented on how it took a while to get used to the governmental power structure in Italy. And, of course, as it is in the U.S., a frequent comment was that expatriates frequently encounter suspicious attitudes when they first arrive. Plus, there was quite a lot of career re-examination when the immigrants arrived in their new home; not too many of them ended up working in the same profession in Italy as they did in Mexico. But, on the positive side, both the Italian and the Hispanic cultures place a great deal of emphasis on familial relationships and almost everyone said that their new immediate families were of great help to them and even though many of their initial dreams were placed on hold (for at least a while) almost everyone was ultimately glad that they chose to resettle in Italy.

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The creator of the exhibition is Ms. Karla Guajardo Ro who is a Mexican photographer and photojournalist based in Rome whose emphasis is migratory issues. As her biography states, "as a photographer, she tells stories in the form of documentaries. In her work, she questions immigration realities, invisible to mainstream society. She strives to challenge people to question their ideas and prejudices. She began her research on issues that are related to her own personal experiences living in the United States and Spain."

In the course of her presentation at Italian Heritage Month, Ms. Scaiola noted that, "while our communities in the United States commemorate the invaluable opportunities that immigration to America afforded millions of Italians...it is important to acknowledge the role that Italy has been playing in a more recent past to become the 'land of dreams'." She went on to say, "in Italy in 2017 "immigrants represented roughly 10% of the population, or close to 6 million people (both legal and illegal residents). If we include those who have obtained Italian citizenship, the number raises."

As for ourselves, we very much enjoyed the exhibition and learned a lot from it thus we urge everyone whose home/job is readily accessible to downtown to take a few minutes and visit Cleveland City Hall in order to view it.

 

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC

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