He had already chosen a table and ordered two pastries filled with chocolate cream and a huge cup of cappuccino, when I arrived. It was clear he was Italian. The expression on his face, his bright eyes, his moves and his preference in terms of breakfast couldn’t lie. “When you go abroad, your habits don’t change, but you start to adapt yourself to a new context” he said. “My grandmother used to wake up at 5 and cook a pan of butter cookies every morning. A good day starts with something sweet, doesn’t it? She kept baking cakes and biscuits until she was gone. After my degree, I came to England and I’ve been in London for six years, but I’ve never had eggs, bacon and beans for breakfast. It’s something I won’t change. The fact that I live here doesn’t mean I’m supposed to eat what English normally eat or to do what they usually do. Am I different because I come from another culture, because I’ve got diverse attitudes? No, I’m not. I’m just like everyone else and I love what makes us, anyone of us, unique!” He took a sip of milk and a bite of pastry. We talked about the weather, the food, the hobbies we had, the books we read, the travels we made and, after two hours we were sitting on those chairs, in that place, which was incredibly similar to the other ones all along that street, we decided to leave and walk around. His name was Dante, such as the famous Italian poet, author of the best-known Divina Commedia. He was 30 years old, he got a degree in Sociology and Education and worked as a teacher. He was an emigrant. Dante came from Italy and left for England when he was 24, his grandmother had died and he decided to move to England, because those who controlled education were burying the school system. There was no opportunity of working and where he lived children were growing up as animals. Since he was a child and went to school, he had a dream. In his world, made of knights, princesses, war and peace, wide lands and tasty foods, he dreamt to be the wise man, whose will was to organize and improve what really was needed to be organized and improved by education, in order to make children and families happy as he was. “A working world depends on culture, divulgation, proper use of information, respect, freedom and love” he said. “We are all made of skulls and flesh, but what differences each other is how our brains work. Each brain, on the Earth, should be cultivated, but doing that it means to get out of your comfort zone… And that’s what I did when I left Italy.” Dante needed to prove that there was a possibility to grow and realize his dream, not only in his mind, but especially in a reality which involves everyone of us in a continuous dance towards progress. He worked as a human, because “white, black, yellow, emigrant, immigrant” are only labels. He said he wouldn’t be understood in Italy as much as he was appreciated by his students in England, who considered him more than a teacher. The Italian government would have prevented him to express himself, because there was too much corruption and no one was doing something to save the country. “So I saved myself” he ended. “Health selfish… Isn’t it? But have you ever thought to come back? I could say that you’re saving many brains in England, you’re doing a great job, which is rewarding you of course, but why not to come to Italy? Now you have some proves, haven’t you?” I asked. “If I came back, the real question would be: is the Italian people ready to learn?” It was a difficult question, wasn’t it? It took me some courage to answer, but, in the end, I said: “You will never know if you stay where you are.” Dante thought there was no hope for his home country, but was that actually true? Listening to him, embracing his ideas, answering his questions and responding his rightful affirmations wasn’t easy. I finally started to think about what future we deserve in a world which is not fair, as we’d like it to be, and where to have a dream requires steadiness, constancy, effort and time. Dante went abroad to become what he always wanted to be, the wise man of his little word, because there were no possibilities to see his future brightening where he grew up, he wasn’t accepted. Sometimes we don’t know what uniqueness is, how to manage it, how to deal with it, how to let it be. We are used to thinking it is strange and rightly so it can’t be helpful or useful. We desperately want to build a better world where we can be who we want to be, but we are making too many false steps we are not able to repair, we are breaking down too many walls which can’t be rebuilt as the same as they were. And so, the “brain drain” can be an advantage if we learn, if we figure out how it should work. Will Dante come back to Italy in the future? I hope so. I hope for my country. I hope thanks to the brain drain.
About 4 years ago my neighbor, Maria decided to emigrate to London in the United Kingdom, she went there because of health problems (she was anorexic and in London there was an Italian doctor who cared for her) and because here in Naples there wasn’t the job and the pay which she wanted to find. The reasons that let her go were different, for example: she thought London people were kinder and friendly, the country was better for building a family and there was more work and more pay. She got a degree in languages, specialized in English and Spanish and also some Masters. Maria hoped she could find a job here in Italy to be with her family but unfortunately here there wasn’t what she was looking for and for her luck she found happiness in London, now she is married and has a little child. Last year she planned to return because she missed a lot her family and because her dad died so she thought her mom, who is an old woman, needed help in the house, but after that she made a decision and she decided to stay in London with her new family and her new friends. Maria would like to miss her Italian family less so she comes here to Naples once a month and during Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, so she can live happily both here and in London.