This week I found a little teaching job. A friend of mine called me up and asked me if I felt like teaching Italian to some guys from Tunisia that arrived in Lampedusa a couple of months ago, like many others after the North-African revolutions and the war in Libia. The classes were being sponsored by a NGO, so they weren’t paying a whole lot, 5€ per hour. He had now found a better teaching job, 7.5€ per hour, so he was leaving this one.

I accepted, and I am happy I did. I love helping people to learn Italian, moreover these guys are very nice people. I do not know a lot about their lives and their stories because I did not want to stir up bad memories. They escaped civil war by crossing the Mediterranean sea on an old boat, leaving families and wives, arriving here with nothing in their pockets; some of them hold a university degree in commerce, in finance, one of them is even a mechanical engineer, but they are all still unemployed and looking for a job. Their degrees won’t probably help much for now, as all they might hope to find is maybe a place as bricklayer, with no contract, no insurance, nothing. I feel ashamed for my country whenever I think about it. At the same time, though, helping them with Italian makes me feel good. I feel like I’m doing something important, something that matters. I’m building bridges between cultures; I’m helping them to move forward, hopefully towards a better future, maybe not immediate, but someday.

I teach them a couple of hours a day, so what I make is 10€ a day. Today after class I went to the supermarket to get some stuff I needed: some salad, coffee, tea, breakfast biscotti, a couple beers. I spent 12€. More than what I managed to make.

I decided to accept this job because I thought it was good experience and also because in the end it’s better than earning nothing. Teaching isn’t easy. One has to prepare the lessons, it takes time, and it’s tiring. It’s sad that after years of studying hard all there is for me to do is a job which earns me less that serving in a bar (or maybe the same amount of money, 5/7 euros), and that doesn’t even allow me to get me through breakfast. And if life is expensive for me, how bad is it for them? Don’t we all eat? What did they come here for, if even we run away?

I don’t feel like emigrating. I said this already. I don’t want to.

It’d be nice if the turmoils found their way to the northern shore of the Mediterranean sea as well. It’s about time to get rid of what is holding us down, depressing those who remain and making us younger generations expatriate.

The wind of change has been blowing pretty hard so far this year.

Is it the right time, yet, for change to happen here as well?