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#202 Italians

February 13, 2013

Submitted by Brian Harding who blogs a little bit at ANairobic Inspiration

As members of the EAW community, Italians are a valuable resource when in [enter any country here]. Many Italians understand poverty deeply, simply because they come from Italy. This also means they know how to create the most nutritious of meals from the simplest of ingredients. (And everyone knows that EAWs love food).  This skill is exceptionally useful when in countries that do not have access to proper food such as packaged chicken breasts, boxes of frozen burgers or a choice of fresh imported vegetables.

Making friends with Italians can be tough, though, as one of the favourite activities for Italian EAWs is spending time with other Italians. However, when this barrier is broken, Italians can be some of the greatest friends an EAW can have.

Italians offer glamour in places where glamour has not been invented yet. Their knowledge of La Bella Figura can mean that even when going to the expat bar or the house party, they know how to dress appropriately. They are also important at sourcing food and items that can make life for an EAW much easier. “No, dai, no, ….you musta go to the street where the butcher lives to get the best pieces.” Italians also import many delicious treats on their return from R&R in Italy and are like a hub in and of themselves.

Italians also generally work for “small Italian NGOs” that have many hallmarks of being GONGOs. These can have names that most EAWs have never heard of e.g “Dante Onorario Organizzazione per la Liberazione” or “Cooperazione Organizzazione Nazionale”. Such organisations never get an acronym. When Italians work for larger organisations; these are generally ones that have a headquarters in Rome. Italian organisations also like working in ex-colonies of Italy.

Italians can give other EAWs much to talk and gossip about. Italians are one of the few EAWs that like to meet locals in intimate ways, are known to go native and on occasion this can result in children. Invariably as Italians are a good-looking bunch, the child of such a pairing generally tends to be very beautiful.

Italians EAWs are also dedicated to staying in their duty station for many years. This is principally because they hate Silvio Berlusconi and Italian politics. The fear that Berlusconi (or in the future his ghost) may come back is also reason enough to maintain their position working as an EAW.

Overall Italians are great contributors to making the life of the EAW easier…. Oh yeah… and for the local people… they help those guys too.

18 Comments leave one →
  1. Mafmaffy permalink
    February 13, 2013 6:44 am

    best article ever! I am an Italian EAW and I recognise myself and my Italian friends in this! proud of being Italian, for once…

    • Sefania permalink
      February 18, 2013 12:30 pm


  2. an italian humanitarian worker permalink
    February 13, 2013 7:48 am

    A nice and fun piece until you become very offensive writing: “Italian organizations like to work in ex-italian colonies” and especially Italians “like to meet locals in intimate ways” and ” are known to go native and on occasion this can result in children”!!!!!

  3. Lucie Laplante permalink
    February 13, 2013 8:41 am

    Spéciale dédicace aux amis Italiens de la Côte d’Ivoire!

    Baci baci Lucie XXX

    Portable (Suisse): (+41) 79 251 7381 Skype: lulaplante

  4. Serge permalink
    February 13, 2013 9:10 am

    As an italian, i always make a point to bring along Mascarpone, for the proverbial Tiramisu. it tastes so much-e betterr, when in mission abroad…

  5. February 13, 2013 10:45 am

    trop marrant! je confirme 100%, c’est vrai! expats italienne, dans le meme pays depuis 7 ans, mariee avec un local, avec un bebe! et tjrs a la recherche de bonne nourriture! sauf que, eh bon: quelles ex colonies italiennes, exactement???? jamais eu de vraies colonies nous memes, les italiens!

  6. Anna permalink
    February 13, 2013 11:41 am

    Please notify to us where are the ex-italian colonies…maybe RDC? Algeria? Angola? Mozambico? Zimbabwe?….and yes, when back from Italy we carry a lot of italian food with us and no one of you says no when invited for a dinner!
    Please come in Madagascar and see how many old french retraited men are around with ados lady….maybe the intimancy you mentionned should be better addressed…

    • February 14, 2013 7:27 pm

      At the risk of sounding out of the loop, and perhaps drawing the ire of the Italian commenters, do we not consider Libya, Albania, and the Horn of Africa as colonies? Do Italians use a different name for the early 20th-century relationship between Italy and these places? Is this a controversial thing, like the Armenian question in Turkey?

      • fiammettacappellini permalink
        February 14, 2013 8:43 pm

        We don’t call these “colonies”, but “brutta figura”!!

  7. TAT permalink
    February 13, 2013 1:56 pm

    “Dante Onorario Organizzazione per la Liberazione” or “Cooperazione Organizzazione Nazionale” Could you please let me know the websites? I never worked with them and never heard about.. I am italian, maybe I should apply..

  8. Far away permalink
    February 13, 2013 2:27 pm

    Eritrea? Very beautiful and you left some great traditions behind….other issues, of course!

    Thanks to the Italians who taught me French….and how to make gnocchi.

  9. La Rochelle Stanis permalink
    February 13, 2013 6:54 pm

    Take it easy my Italians buddies, as 100% Italian I am on your side.
    I did my internship at “Cooperazione Organizzazione Nazionale” in Malindi (Kenya) where I owned my humanitarian skills and deeply bonded with the autochthonous. I was then for 6 years the Regional Program Director for Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea for “Dante Onorario Organizzazione per la Liberazione”. I am currently in Tripoli where I opened a restaurant “La grande muraglia” with my latest Congolese wife and 3 of my 12 children (the others are working in my Italian supermarket in Addis Abeba); please pass by for a real pasta Alfredo or for a pizza al prosciutto (0.5% of the income will be donated to the Don Bosco soccer team of Bengazi – Forza ragazzi!).
    As a matter of fact I don’t understand neither all these references to the Italians ex-colonies, I don’t get the point. I am happily married 4 times, I am helping a lot of poor people and this job IS BIUTIFUL!

  10. Davide permalink
    February 14, 2013 2:00 am

    No harm done – it’s just an entertaining blogpost – but still I can’t remember another occasion in which I could see so many dull stereotypes packed in the same article. First time I approached this blog I thought hey, this could help me understand a few things about the expat world. But if this is the approach, then it’s more likely that this blog makes people misunderstand lots of things.

  11. Ali permalink
    February 14, 2013 1:56 pm

    Italian colonies? easy to answer: Albania, Libia, Eritrea, Ethiopia and, part of Somaliland….How many years?Must have been 4 or 5 ys, short enough for nobody realized we were around, ahahah…Hey!Liked this post…glad to hear that we give a lot of gossip to other EAWs!! ;)

  12. February 15, 2013 1:19 am

    As an Italian, I reckon this is so true and incredibly funny…loved it! ;-)

  13. Gary Owen (El Snarkistani) permalink
    February 15, 2013 1:19 am

    Sweet 8 pound 7 oz. baby Jesus but this is true. Amazing work/read as always. Frightening how parallel all of our universes are in this community.

  14. alice permalink
    February 16, 2013 8:57 am

    Look at this :
    yeah, we always think about food… but not only!

  15. Max permalink
    February 25, 2013 1:52 am

    for all the Italians that have taken this wrong….relax, enjoy life and the work you are so luckily doing…..I think this blog serves its purpose and that is take things in a light and funny way… btw,if you would like to eat some great pasta, pass by Nairobi as I am now heading back home for a few weeks and am planning to bring bak some pancetta, parmigiano and pecorino cheeses!!…(opsss, am married with a french girl and have two beautiful very blond boys)!!

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