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Citizens of the World” is the title of the event hosted by the Italian Embassy in Bucharest on 27th and 28th May. The event included the inauguration of the itinerant photographic exhibition, “Citizens of the World – How women see expatriation” and a one and a half day round table discussion on “Positive Migration”. The photographic exhibition is the result of a photo contest organized by the Italian, non-profit association Expatclic Italia.

The exhibition

citizens of the world

Claudiaexpat showing the pictures

The photographic contest wanted to provide Italian women living abroad with a space to express these feelings in images. 187 pictures were submitted from 36 different countries on all the continents of the world. The exhibition organizers selected 27 representative photos which will travel to various Italian and local communities abroad to demonstrate the positive and respectful vision that these Italian women have of their hosting cultures.

Ursula Fait, an Italian citizen living in Bucharest and a contest participant, brought this exhibition to her hosting city. The Italian Embassy in Bucharest enthusiastically included the exhibition and a debate on “Positive Expatriation” at the Ambassador’s residence during the Italian Festival, a celebration of founding of the Italian Republic.

The event included a press conference in the morning and a lovely lunch at the Italian Embassy, where guests viewed the beautiful exhibition. In the afternoon and the following day, participants enjoyed an interesting panel discussion on “What it means to be Citizens of the World“, which was moderated by Italian journalist, Niccolò D’Aquino. The Italian Ambassador stated that women’s expatriation today is no longer a passive act, following one’s husband in search of better economic conditions, but these women have turned it into a great opportunity to learn, create and grow. The panel stressed that despite difficulties, hardship and loneliness that accompany expatriation, a real opportunity exists to get rid of one’s own cultural constructions and welcome new ways of living.

citizens of the world

The panel of the first day

citizens of the world

Second day of discussion

The only pollution we must not fear is the cultural one” said Mr Jean-Leonard Touadi, first Congolese member at the Italian Parliament, who gave a moving account of how his Congolese mother bravely faced the French culture and the diplomatic life in Paris, after having been married by correspondence and always maintained her “Africanity” within her family.

This concept was reiterated by Ms. Ayse Sinirlioglu, Turkish Ambassador in Romania, who described the balance between the difficulties in frequent moves which found her in complex situations and the wonderful opportunities offered by expatriation. She explained that when having to learn to live and function in another culture we must confront deeply with our own culture, in order to understand the points of similarity and differences, and this exercise helps us to better focus on our own cultural structure, while at the same time welcoming a new culture, which is an enriching and formative process. Living in other cultures, asserted Ms. Sinirlioglu,  means to be constantly stimulated as every aspect of daily life opens new discoveries-everything is an unknown surprise.

The thoughts shared during the panel discussion are reflected in the images of the photographic exhibition which are on display from 3rd to 18th June at the Clubul Taranului and later on at the Hotel Residence Cerisiers until mid July. Observing other cultures with open eyes and hearts is a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Expatriate women have the advantage and privilege of being able to live other cultures from the inside, and by showing their children how important it is to approach them in a positively curious and conscious way, they certainly contribute to the future of a better world.

Claudia Landini (Claudiaexpat)
Milan, Italy
June 2009

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