An Eye-opening Experience

Monday, November 28, 2016

This morning I woke up at 5 AM. I fell asleep before 9:30 PM last night because I was so tired! Today I had a third permit to stay appointment. It has been quite the process getting permission to live in Italy for 9 months! 30 sleepy FFEs left San Gallo at 7 AM  before making their way to the immigration office 15 minutes away.

As we approached the building, there was a long line of people anxiously and impatiently waiting outside. It was chilly this morning too. Elisa, one of our advisors, arrived shortly after we did and got us into the building. We cut about 100 people in line, and they were not happy, glaring at us as we walked past them.

The immigration office reminded me of a Subway station. The lighting was very dull, and it was loud. There was a loud alarm that would go off every 10 minutes or so. We all waited in line to give the friendly man our paperwork and get initial fingerprints scanned.

People whispered in line how uncomfortable they felt in line because we were all stared at by many people of color. They were waiting just like us, and they weren’t doing us any harm. It made me feel ashamed in a way because there we were complaining about how early in the morning it was and how slowly the whole process took. These people weren’t all going to be granted residence in Italy. And these people were probably waiting for much longer than we were.

I enjoyed the experience. I didn’t feel unsafe or threatened to any degree. It was cool because the scene is something I never would’ve seen at home in southern Vermont. I can’t stress how much more diverse Italy is. There may be a white majority, but it doesn’t feel as apparent because there are so many people of all different races and ethnicities. It’s the type of environment everyone should be used to and familiar with.

We waited until 10 on benches until a man told us that we had to come back and do our fingerprints on Thursday. There were many cranky freshmen leaving the immigration office. It was a bit of a pain that we wasted two hours there waiting, but I didn’t mind. It was a memorable two hours. Here’s the poem I wrote while waiting to help describe the experience:

Monday Morning by Emma LeMay


The black benches we sit on resembles

the darkest charcoal pencil

The walls are the color

of its overused eraser

A wave of drowsiness and hunger

fills the impatient and anticipating room

along with the echo of an overtired baby

and its overtired parents

Chatter about ‘sketchy people’

shouldn’t be heard by the ears

hidden under the panda hat

A majority of the people here are in loose jeans

Not us though.

Leather boots, warm scarves, cold fingers holding iPhones

We’re in the seats that have hosted thousands

Some were not as lucky

We are one

But really

We are two

xo ~e.


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