i-ItalyNY - 2014-06 - page 16

June-July 2014
By Lucia Pasqualini
When I was appointedVice Consul of
Italy in NewYork I never imagined how
much the experience would change me
both professionally and personally. I did
not yet know what it meant to hold such a
post in a city like NewYork, or how special
NewYork is for Italy. Nor had I fully realized
howmuch thiscity had been shaped by
Italian immigration and howmuch it has
been influenced by the Italian American
I remember vividly the first event I attended
in an official capacity almost 4 years ago. It
was the Columbus Day Parade in Queens.
Each borough has its own parade as part of
the Columbus Day celebrations. At the time, I
did not even know what a parade was.When
I was informed that Congresswoman Carolyn
Maloney would be the Grand Marshal, I
remembered never seeing a Member of the
Italian Parliament at a similar event.This was
my first contact with the ItalianAmerican
Community and American democracy.
I was very struck by the presence of a
Congresswoman at the parade. On that day I
understood that in a democracy a politician
is always close to his or her constituency and
the constituency’s needs.
When I went back to the office the following
Monday, Lisa Calello, who has served as the
assistant to the Consul General for the past
forty years, asked me: “Howwas the parade?”
She then told me something I will never forget:
“To get know the community, you need to love
the community.”After four years in NewYork, I
finally realized what she meant.
The ‘threesouls’ of thecommunity
I have attended hundreds of events across
NewYork and Connecticut. I have met
thousands of people, the “three souls” of the
community: the ItalianAmericans of second
or third generations; the Italians who came
to the US in the fifties and sixties; and the
newest wave of immigration, the Italians
who in Italy are often called the brain-drain
generation. One must learn to grasp the
great asset this multi-faceted community
represents for Italy. If Italian is spoken
everywhere in NewYork today, it is thanks to
the Italian American community, which has
worked hard to promote an appreciation of
Italian culture.This was not always so.There
was a time when Italians hesitated to speak
their own language. In many cases they tried
to assimilate by changing their family names.
I learnedhowspecial
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