I’ve shunned creating a blog for a long time, thinking that what could I possibly say that would make a single bit of difference? Not that “making a difference” should be everyone’s intention with a blog—-but it is mine. Or maybe not a difference, but an awareness. And, as well, a reaching out.
I am an academic faculty librarian. I am a fiction writer and a poet. I am a proud Italian-American. I am currently engaged in peace studies. I think a lot about social justice and education. Social Justice and immigrants. Social justice and migration. I am interested in seeing the intersection and impact of all of these factors .
I will leave for Sicily next week and will be there for one month, engaged in reading and writing about social justice and immigration, while working at a non-profit organization that helps to educate and acclimate the many immigrants who are coming to seek a better life in Sicily. I will be interviewing them. Listening, watching and lending a hand. My goal is to learn as much as I can. Dismantle my own preconceived notions about what I think I know .
My mentor, Dr. Ellen Skilton Sylvester, who is currently on a much deserved sabbatical in Costa Rica will be guiding me along, like she always does. I am hoping she will contribute to this blog , as well, because her knowledge knows no boundaries. I had the pleasure of accompanying her to Sicily last March along with 25 transfer students from our institution, Arcadia University. What we learned about immigration and migration there, with my friend and colleague Ramzi Harrabi, who is so generous in both time and spirit, has ignited a passion in me that I feel I must pursue. Dr. Lucia Ortisi, at the Mediterranean School of Arts and Sciences in Siracusa lent her guidance and full support. I have so much to thank all three of them for!
This blog will be a work in progress. I want to record what I see. What I hear. How I feel. And what it all means. This blog is not a scholarly pursuit as much as a personal one. My grandfather came to the United States from Petralia Sottana, one of the hamlets of Palermo. I remember the stories of what he went through in L’America and how, until the end of his life, he wanted nothing but to return. But of course, he had nothing and no one to return to. I have witnessed immigrants in Siracusa who have come from North Africa, looking for jobs, being treated as criminals and longing for home. When we posed the question to one man one day, in the rain, in the open market “Why didn’t you bring your whole family with you ?” he looked at us as though we were pazzo. He responded “Is it better for one of us to suffer or for everybody? A Sri Lankan immigrant volunteered his story to me when serving my coffee at an outdoor cafe. “Why does trust take so long?” he asked me.
So many questions, and right now , so few answers. But the pursuit of understanding is the best endeavor.