(Almost) Wheels up (again)!

6 May

As I prepare for the next trip, I am excited and nervous at the same time.  When I traveled to Brazil in 2012, my Portguese was not all that great (can only boast minimal improvement even now) so I couldn’t say confidently I was stepping into a country where I knew the language and the surroundings.  The same holds true for this trip to Italy.  But here’s the difference:  for Brazil, I knew I would be around people of African descent and that would be enough to diminish any fears of not knowing the language.  For Italy, not so much the case.  I not only don’t speak a lick of Italian (I am soooo hoping my Spanish, French and Portguese will allow me to tread water), but there is little chance of me seeing an Afro-Italian.

I know, when I went to Madrid last year, I was shocked to see Africans. But, I knew the LANGUAGE. So I could still catch the subtle nuances of passersby, of folks I passed by and still felt “comfortable.”

Something about this trip has me a bit more anxious.  I am leading way more students than ever (16 this time), but, although there are logistical things there of concern, it really is about this anticipation of the unfamiliar in all respects.  I am used to being somewhere and not really knowing the language well (Brazil, Senegal, South Korea, Haiti) and I am used to being in spaces where my color sticks out as the beautifully different thumb it is (Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Spain, heck, the USA in some places).  But the combination of these two are rare for me.

Needless to say, some of my posts this trip may be a public negotiation of this combination.  It will also be an opportunity for me to, for a moment, sit in the places of those Black Away from Home ex-pats living in Japan, China, Russia (well kind of, there are Afro-Russians) and all those other places where language and identity are impacted simultaneously.  It will really put a lot of my research into perspective.

I am thrilled, EXCITED to be going to Italy!  For all of the reasons that anybody else would be excited to go.  But also for the reasons I list above that may read as apprehension.  It’s not.  You should know by now, I set the stage for my thought process in order to prepare myself (and you).


The Coliseum


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