This was my schedule in Rome. I traveled with Cal Cunningham, lawyer from North Carolina; Chad Evans, VP of the Council on Competitiveness; Ellen Kackmann, associate with Wachovia Bank; Hussein Samatar, executive director of the African Development Center. We were also joined by Corinna Horst, Deputy Director of the Brussels office of the German Marshall Fund, sponsor of the fellowship.
March 19, 2007
Afternoon -- fly from Copenhagen to Rome
6:30pm -- program overview with city coordinator
8pm to ? -- Welcome dinner hosted by The Council for the United States and Italy. Six Italian MMF fellows attended. It was very interesting to hear about their experiences traveling around the US on their fellowship. More on that later.
March 20, 2007
9:30 - 11:15am -- Art as an Economic Asset, held at the Scuderie del Quirinal museum.
12 - 2pm -- individual appointment with the Emigrant Somali Women's Association. This was not set up for me, but for Hussein Samatar, another MMF fellow. He is a refugee from Somalia and he was very happy for the opportunity to meet other Somalis. Somalia is a former colony of Italy and so there is a significant Somali population in Italy. I sat in for about 15 minutes and met the ladies. Their English was limited and I didn't speak Italian or Somali. Executive Director, Ms. Zeinab Ahmed Barahow, did speak very good English.
The Emigrant Somali Women's Association was established in 2003 and there are 18 members, all volunteers. Four of the women have opened their own businesses, such as selling Somali clothing, operating a call center, and interpretation. I was so happy to hear about refugee and immigrant women as leaders and entrepreneurs!
They estimate that there are 3,000 Somalis in Italy, but they have started leaving for other parts of Italy because of lack of jobs. Many women work as house cleaners to earn a living. They were a great example of a mutual assistance association trying to help one another the best they can. One thing they try to do is raise funds so people who pass away can be sent back to Somalia for burial or to celebrate holidays. That's something all ethnic groups the world over do.
Ms. Barahow is the second from the right.
2:30pm -- meet in lobby to take bus to next appointment
3:30 to 5:15pm -- The media and press in Italy, held at La Repubblica newspaper. It was very timely because the day before, a reporter for La Repubblica was released by the Taliban in Afghanistan and everyone in Italy was very happy to have him safely back home. In exchange for his release, 5 Taliban prisoners were released. There is still debate whether that was the proper thing to do. Sadly, the Italian journalist's driver and interpreter, both Afghanis, were killed.
These are the American fellows, with Ms. Raffaella Menichini, third from left. Ms. Menichini is the foreign desk journalist for La Repubblica and an European MMF fellow. On our tour of the newspaper, we stopped by an editors' meeting. No women were editors.
8:30pm to 12am -- home dinners with European MMF alumni. The dinners are held in people's homes and they're very informal. Only 2 or 3 American MMF fellows attend each, to avoid overwhelming the host. There were at least 2 other Italian MMF fellows at the dinner.
One fellow (who was a woman. We need a better, gender neutral term other than fellow!) did not have good things to say about the American health care system. She started in Washington DC, then went to Raleigh, North Carolina. While there she went hiking with her host family (apparently European fellows sometimes have host families. We American fellows did not.) in the woods. Then she went on to Dallas, Texas. While there, she found a tick buried in her skin. Her only option for getting health care to remove the bloodsucker was to go to the emergency room. But she didn't want to go and "sit there with all the immigrants." So after a few more days, she went on to San Francisco, California. Finally, her host family called a doctor friend who came over after hours to remove the tick. She was incredulous that it was so difficult to get health care! Join the club.
March 21, 2007
9:30 to 11:15am -- Italian Institutions and their relationships with the European Union, held at the Italian Parliament. This will be discussed in another post.
Lunch -- at our leisure. I think I took a nap.
4:15pm -- meet in hotel lobby to take the train to the Community of Sant'Egidio.
5 to 6pm -- Italy's policy toward the poor and the immigrants. To be a longer post.
7 to 8:30pm -- dinner with Claudio Betti, of the Community of Sant'Egidio.
8:3o to 9pm -- Catholic mass with the Community of Sant'Egidio. It was held in Italian, with translation head sets. Mr. Betti provided the simultaneous translation into English. The mass is said every night by lay volunteers.
March 22, 2007
10 to 11:30am -- an Economic Outline of Italy, held at the Banca d'Italia, the equivalent of the Federal Reserve. The European Union is essentially an economic and trade body and so we had a power point presentation about how it worked. Fortunately, I had already read "The United States of Europe" by T. R. Reid. Very easy to read, made European economic policy interesting. I had to leave this meeting early to make it to my individual meeting with:
12 to 1pm -- Telefono Rosa, a national hotline to help women in distress. To be a separate post
2 to 3pm -- bus trip to farm
3 to 5pm -- visit Azienda Agricola Castel di Guido, a farm managed by the city of Rome. They raise longhorn cattle, dairy cows, olive grove, and make their own cheese, bread, wine and spirits. We had the opportunity to sample the organic food products and rode a tractor pulled wagon through the country side. We even had to Roman cowboys ride along side.
These are maremmana cattle, protected by the European Union and in danger of extinction. They're born reddish and turn grey as they age.
You will have to imagine for yourself the rest of the hilly vista, with the top of St. Peter's Basilica of the Vatican off in the distance in one direction, and the sea in the other direction. I was busy trying to stay on the wagon. There were no guardrails and nothing really to hold onto.
Between the farm and Rome lay a forest where our guide said 2000 immigrants, mostly from Eastern Europe, were living in shanties. The authorities had gone into the forest to tear down the shanties, but found no people. No one knew where they had gone or how they knew the authorities were coming. Even in this idyllic setting, the global economic reality was present.
6pm to ? -- Goodbye dinner with fellows, Ms. Horst, and Ms. Liberati, the city coordinator.
Next up: Belgrade, Serbia!