Disclaimer: This is a translation of an open letter written by my fellow citizen Lara Lago, who has given me permission to translate it. I am not the author of this content, I am simply translating it from Italian to English.
Background: 100,000 young Italians left their country looking for career opportunities, since the unemployment rate is alarming and, once one is out of college, finding a job related to one's field of study is just not an option. On December 19th, 2016, the Italian Minister of Work, Giuliano Poletti, declared:"the ones that leave Italy are not the best. This country won't hurt in getting rid of them."
After the Minister's declaration, Italy's social media exploded. Thousands of people felt personally offended by his statement, some even took it as far as asking for his resignation. Among the crowd of screams, insults and whatnot, a certain post obtained everyone's attention. Here is the response of Lara Lago, a young Italian journalist who lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Dear Minister Poletti,
this letter is not meant as a protest, but rather as a personal invitation, for you: take it into consideration.
I invite you to lock your life in a suitcase, 50 pounds, to be precise. Pack your personal belongings, clothes, pictures of a sunny land, hopes, competences mixed between the toothbrush and your sneakers.
Because you're gonna have to run.
By all means, come by yourself. Pray not so much to speak a good English, that is vital and we take it for granted, for you just as for every politician, but rather hope to understand every shade of English accents that populate the world: the grouchy one of the Indian to whom you will have to ask for directions at the station, the fast-paced one of the locals who grew up without dubbing, even in a non English-speaking country, the one of the mother-speakers in your business, Americans, Australians, English, the bosses that will inspect you up and down only for your ideas and your ability to express them, most definitely not for your tie or for how well your blazer is ironed. Just saying, nobody irons clothes here, and being brilliant does not need to be starched.
On your first days, when it gets dark, try to get back home swiftly, feel what it means having to start over. And when I stay "start over" I mean not knowing how to shop for groceries anymore, because the names are all different, and it only takes a second to buy salted butter. Especially if one does not even imagine that salted butter can exist. When I say "start over" I mean nobody to go home to, nobody to call if you sprain an ankle down the stairs. Sure, if you scream "Help!" somebody will hear you. But don't expect the Italian warmth, dear Minister, cause if the whole world is a small town (translator note: Italian saying) not all countries are Italy, and if your car were to break down in the middle of the road and you wanted to call one of your coworkers, he, with his effective pragmatism, will send you a text with the address of the closest body shop.
Then call the district, get an appointment, get registered in a country that is accepting you so that you will make it alone against the world, do some paperwork, bureaucracy, open a bank account in the new country, share with others your house, your floor, your bathroom, sometimes the trash room, take turns to use the kitchen and clean it. And don't you dare go complaining to other Italians, cause the first thing you'll hear is:"That's just how it is, what, do you think you're in Italy or something?"
You say that the 100,000 young people who left are not the best. It's true, but we are the ones that haven't settled down, the ones that don't give up, the ones that cannot stand to have a future wrapped in the fog, the ones that, although they may not be the best, were too smart in school, with too many ideas, too upfront, with too much will to make it. So much will to make it that we cannot stand a Minister of Work who will not understand that if we're leaving it's because of what should be his job: work. And when we're surprised that here a contract, after three times, becomes permanent, that loans have low-interest rates and that they are given to young people, too -mostly to young people!- and that yes, if you work, you can still buy a house, we hear back:"That's just the way it is, what, do you think you're in Italy or something?"
One last thing, Minister. Among all of the Italians that live in the Netherlands, I have yet to hear one that says:"Life is better here." All of them, instead, say: "If we could live like that in Italy as well we would be back in a heartbeat. But."
I don't know if our But is in your hands, But we will be back only when courage and competencies will be seen as an added value. Courage and competencies, not recommendations and shrewdness.
I'm waiting for you, Minister Poletti, actually, no, it's too easy to have some handhold.
Dive, it's soft. Definitely softer than some affirmations of yours, soft just because they lack consistency.
Signed: one of the 100,000 young people who left Italy, one of those 'it's better to get rid of', as you declared.
One that puts her face and her ideas out there. Without having the chance to take them back, or wanting to do so.
Written by: Lara Lago
Translated by: Leenda Maraldi