A wise person once stated “the world is the true classroom. The most rewarding and important type of learning is through experience, seeing something with our own eyes”. When pondering what I wanted to do this summer of 2018, I carefully thought through my usual options which consisted of working my same summer job since I was 16, taking classes at my local community college, or attempting to get a new job/internship in the DC area. these all seemed like viable options and had there pros and cons, but something key was missing from all of them and it took me a while to figure it out what that something was. What I realized at the end of the school year, is that that thing that my inner soul was craving the most is that feeling I have not experienced since my senior year summer study abroad trip to spain. The feeling was one of many mixed emotions including fear, pride, and excitement to see a new part of the world, alone. At this point I started talking to the career center about any suggestions they had to get an internship/study abroad program for the summer as well as talking to connections in the DC area for help. I did not have much luck as it was late in the process and many people already had their summers set in stone. Then out of nowhere a golden opportunity landed directly in my lap. After a long day of studying for my astronomy final exam with a fellow classmate and friend of mine we found ourselves deep in a conversation of what we wanted to do with our lives. Many times young adults try to avoid this conversation as it is quite nerve wracking and somewhat scary to think about. Thankfully I did not avoid this conversation this time. As I started to tell my friend Pauline my dreams of possibly working for the state department or one of the agencies, she asked me what my plan was for the summer and I told her my plans as of that time. She then said “I do not know if you know this but my mother is an MP for the Italian Parliament representing Italians living in North and Central America”. I naturally replied and expressed my fascination in this but I did not expect what was to come next. Pauline then said I think my mom would love to have you intern under her this summer if you are interested. My first emotion was a feeling of fear and nervousness as this would be my first “real” job that pertains to major but I did not show it as I quickly replied in joy and excitement to this opportunity. She told me to prepare my resume and send it to her mother as well as setting up a phone interview. I did both and before I knew it I booked my flight to the beautiful Rome, Italy. The Honorable Fucsia Nissoli then explained to me what my duties and experience would be like interning under her which consisted of learning of italian politics at an institutional and specific level, writing press releases and touching up letters in english as she spoke english well but not perfectly, personally reaching out to her constituents, and learning about Italy’s role and relationship in the EU, and with the rest of the world. It seemed like a lot to me but after thinking it through I was ecstatic and ready to take on this challenge.
Upon arrival, Italy was coming out of a very interesting time politically and some would say a period of confusion. Italy was facing a hung parliament leading up to the election which basically means there is no government. A hung parliament comes from a certain party not being able to get the majority of the votes therefore not able to retain ultimate power. In Italy’s case you need 40% to win it outright. Thankfully Forzia Italia got enough votes to hold a considerable amount of seats in the parliament. To understand the current situation it is imperative to understand how the political system works institutionally. The politics of Italy are often confusing and complex to someone who is not familiar with it. The official name of the country is “the Italian Republic”. Italy was monarchy until 1946 and then it became a democratic republic which lasted until the 1990’s when a series of scandals and corruption hit Italy’s major political parties. Following this and currently it is known as the second republic. The president and commander in chief is Sergio Mattarella. His role is very different to our current president as it is mainly just a ceremonial role.The Italian constitution is similar to the US as it is very old but strong in its beliefs. The articles of the constitution are divided into three categories, which are fundamental principles, rights and duties of the citizens, and organization of the Republic. It is nearly impossible to amend the articles which prevents future dictators from getting power by changing these amendments. Only 13 in history have been amended. The Constitutional court is made up of 15 and these are members of the parliament and judges of other courts decide if the court rulings conflict with any of the articles. The power in italy is divided into the three branches of government, which all run separately while also cooperating with each other. The ultimate power is in the hands of the Prime Minister who leads the Council of Ministers. This group is in charge of making laws and he execution of them. This is usually done through presentation of bills to the parliament but can also be done by passing decrees.The judges are responsible for carrying out these laws that are passed by the parliament. They all serve as judges for life. The election of the Italian president is quite different than America’s due to the fact that the role of the two are quite different as well. Italy elects their president through a secret ballot by the parliament and a group of regional representatives. The President serves seven year terms which makes it impossible to be re-elected by the same parliament house. These duties consist of naming the prime minister, officially putting laws into effect, calling for referendums, and calling for elections. The Parliament is a bicameral one. This means they are made up of two houses which contain equal power and perform identical functions, but do so separately. These two houses are The Chamber of Deputies and the Senate. The Chamber of Deputies has 630 members, all over the age of 25 and the senate has 315 members, all over the age of 40. Both houses elect members for five year terms. To implement a new law, a bill needs to be passed by both houses in the parliament and they both must agree on all the amendments made to the bill. This is why bills sometimes end up stuck in a standstill for years at a time. The voting age is 18 for members of the Deputy and it is 25 for Senate elections. Some people see these as wrong because it protects the older generation. It is criticized by many parties and they have called for action for the age of voting to be lowered. Following World War 2, the politics of Italy were largely dominated by the centrist Party of Christian Democracy along with the Communist Party. There were also several other smaller parties that had a influence. After the series of scandals that hit in the 1990s, the Italian Communist Party became the Democratic party of the left, while the party of Christian Democracy faded away. This made way for new parties on the right wing. These are the Northern League and Forza Italia. Now, the Democratic party, Forzia Italia (the party my boss is in), and the Northern league are known as the four main parties, along with the Five Star Movement, which is an anti-establishment party that claims to be neither right nor left. It was founded in 2009.Other large parties are the Right Wing brothers of Italy,the centre-right Popular Alternative and Italian Left which were both also founded this year; the Liberal Popular Alliance and Direction Italy which split from Forza Italia, and the centrist Civic Choice.
While most of my research was into the depth of Italian politics at an institutional level, most of my work can be seen on the surface. Coming into this, I was most interested in the work that I was going to be doing regarding Italy’s relationship with North America and Central America. There are many similar pieces of work to this but one of my favorite projects was writing a letter to the Toronto school board concerning their language program. Toronto is home to many Italians and they were deciding on whether or not to rid of the foreign language program as a core part of scholastics. I spent countless hours preparing a letter to explain the significance and the value of foreign languages, especially Italian, to the trustees of the school board. To sum it up, I wrote about how learning a new language and discovering a new culture can help you enrich yourself as a person and give you a new perspectives on life. This can make you more versatile and give you a skill set to adapt to almost any foreign situation. It was eventually overturned and they decided to keep foreign languages as a part of the core program. This felt amazing and something that I will never forget doing. Another similar type of objective that I was given was to write to the Chicago city council concerning a controversial monument of a fascist Italian Air Force leader, Balbo, who was under Mussolini during World War 2. There is an ongoing feud between the people that want it removed due to its fascist undertones and the large Italian community that sees it’s deeper meaning and value as Balbo severed as cornerstone of respect for Italians at the time and Air Force tech. In general. I wrote to the city council explaining that the meaning of the monument goes much further beyond fascist ideals and goes into the proud Italian culture in Chicago. These types of assignments gave me a sense of pride as I could see my work helping a much bigger cause.
I did a significant amount of work concerning Italians living abroad and migrating to the U.S and Canada but I also did a plentiful amount of research concerning immigration into the Italy. They currently have a massive problem with immigrants illegally coming into Italian land through the mediterranean from North African countries. Sicily essentially acts as a port for these illegal immigrants to travel freely and they have received little help to resolve this problem. This matter is very interesting for the american person as we work together with them through NATO to stop ISIL coming into Europe to perform terror attacks in Europe and globally. Similarly to us, they have a new leader/ Prime Minister, Salvini who holds strong views on immigration. He is very firm in his beliefs and has initiated a plan to ship out illegal immigrants in masses. Living in Rome I was able to experience the tension between obvious african migrants, and the traditional Italians. Many want Italy to be a country where all immigrants seeking asylum are welcome however many feel just the opposite as they believe illegal immigrants are taking the low-paying jobs away from residents and do not act as well behaved traditional Italians. After much research, I presented a plan to my boss to help improve these African countries so that we can bring down the number of people seeking asylum which would in turn bring down the number of illegal immigrants. With the help of the European countries and other allies in the world, we can bring them technology and knowledge on how to farm the bountiful African lands. To go along with this our leaders and european leaders can help these countries that have a weak or little democracy to give the power to the right people in countries like Libya, Morocco, and Egypt. I understand this is a long process but I believe it is a better solution than just shipping out masses of immigrants which is costly to Italy and takes a long period of time. This also will provide countries long term solutions instead of the recurring cycle that Europe and Italy specifically is stuck in. Hopefully my boss and her team can work to reach a solution that keeps both sides of Italy happy while having immigrants legally come and make great contributions like they have for centuries.
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