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An Afghan refugee journalist looks for work in Italy

Commentary on stereotyping by M.Amin Wahidi

Saturday 13 September 2008, by Mohammad Amin Wahidi


editorial assistance by Caitlin Quigley

Since discovering that I have been allowed to work, I repeat the same sentence in my broken Italian when I enter employment agencies in the city: “Buon giorno, singora/ signore, mi chiamo Amin e sto cercando lavoro, volevo chiederela se c’e un lavoro qui?” (Good morning sir/madam, my name is Amin and I’m looking for work, are there any jobs available?
Upon hearing my Italian, the first question they ask is where I am from. Usually I surprise them when I say “sono Afghano”(I am Afghan), which makes them even more curious. Perhaps they wonder what kind of an Afghan I am without a beard and a turban. They have known my people only by these characteristics.

The employment agencies read over my CV, then look at me and then nod their heads: “Mmmm, vediamo cosa possiamo fare, ci sentiamo fra pochi giorni”. (We’ll see what we can do; we’ll get back to you in a few days.)
Although I know some of the agencies do not offer jobs to foreigners, most of them ask me to return in September, after the summer holidays, and I say; “ Va bene, ci sentiamo dopo, grazie arrivederci.” (Okay, talk to you later, thank you very much.)

These days, when I receive calls from unknown numbers, I assume it must be from one of the agencies. I answer with “Pronto?” instead of “Hello?” to show them that I speak Italian.

Sometimes my friends tease me. They call from unknown numbers, pretending to be from an employment agency, and ask me to come to work tomorrow, but soon I recognize their voices and their accents and we burst out laughing.

Because now I have to practice my Italian more and more, I write you the last sentence in Italian: "quando avrò qualcosa nuova, metterò qui per I lettori di questo blog, ci sentiamo dopo, ma sperò che sara una buona novita subito!" (When I have something new, I will post it here for my readers, talk to you later , I hope to have good news soon!)

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