This is not a cliché.

October 2018

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Monday,
29 October 2018

I have learned to say ‘Inshallah’, and I have taught others to say ‘ si bieusu’

I have seen this world of ours change in recent decades, many walls which had fallen have been raised again, and with the years flying past us at ever greater speed, we have come to realise that the world has become smaller, but is still closed to the foreigner.
Alongside me in the reception area and back office are colleagues from Africa, in the kitchen colleagues from the Balkans and India, Spain, Russia, and of course Italy. There are of course occasional difficulties in our job but diversity here in the hotel has become an opportunity to meet and exchange, and a source of enrichment.
When I was just little, in the year 1989, and I had just started to learn how to read and write, I can remember really clearly that our TV at home showed the image of a young lad sitting on a multi-coloured wall, people moving around in chaotic fashion and dancing gaily, and I could not understand all the fuss for the simple fact that a wall had fallen. When I was a lad myself, just a little older than an adolescent, I was again watching a TV at the end of summer, obviously a much more sophisticated TV than our previous one, and in a state of astonishment and anguish I saw the Twin Towers fall and I thought that the world was heading for a dark period, a horrible and extremely complicated one.
Just a few years ago, a young man by then, I saw on my computer the image of a dead child on a beach here in Europe, a Europe which is imploding on itself and is ever more inward looking.
In the way I tell of, I have seen this world of ours change in recent decades, many walls which had fallen have been raised again, and with the years flying past us at ever greater speed, we have come to realise that the world has become smaller, but is still closed to the foreigner.
I was born in Germany, but was brought up in Sardegna and I have lived, studied and worked quite a lot in Europe – in England, Germany, Spain, here in Italy in Friuli, and now I live and work in South Tyrol. I have a girlfriend from Veneto, she having Habsburg origins, and she loving her cat from here in Val Badia. I wrote my degree thesis on Italian emigration to America. Is it still right today in 2018 to speak of foreigners, in a time when in just a few hours I can fly to Jerusalem and touch the wall pianto, or just as easily fly to New York. Perhaps you as an expert in semantics are better placed to judge! Not even Camus knew how to answer at the end!.
When you work in an international hotel such as is La Perla one welcomes and shakes the hand of persons from all over the planet, and of course one has colleagues from many different countries in the team. Long live Africa! In the office alongside me are Hicham from Morocco and Yero from Senegal! And then there are Goran and Sebastian from the Balkans Long live the Balkans! In the kitchen there is Mustafa, also from Morocco, and Hicham and Mervan from Kosovo, and then there are other colleagues from Serbia, Macedonia, India, Russia, Austria, and not forgetting our mountain guide Linda – she Spanish from the Canary Islands. And to finish on a local note there are people of Ladin origin, such as Maddalena, a fluent Ladin native tongue speaker and a person who knows these mountains around us like few others.
Of course not all is always easy, considering that we as a team from many parts of the world work and live together. For example, it was not easy for me as a man from the island of Sardegna to adapt to the very straightforward and direct approach of the South Tyroleans. It was not easy to explain to Yero the reason why certain behavioural characteristics would not go down so well here in this area. It is not easy to get used to some of the expressions of Goran. But it is possible. All of us have learned a lot from being in each other’s company. Diversity has become a meeting opportunity, a meeting of persons and a meeting of ways, and for me it is not important where colleagues come from. What, however is important, whether the person comes from the moon or a town just down the road, is that he or she loves the work here, and wishes to be here with us in this great hotel, and dedicate all to the daily tasks we need to go about.
At Christmas in 2017 we opened a bottle of prosecco and of fruit juice too and enjoyed a panettone together. We, a group of persons who wanted to spend some time together, and none of us was interested if others were catholic, protestant, muslim, or bald or black or white. We raised our glasses together because we respected each other and were proud to be together. Diversities may exist but it is we humans alone who may make of them an insurmountable wall: when I welcome Hicham and Yero for the new season it is easy to say to them “Inshallah” and they to feel also comfortable with the Ladin expression, “si bieusu”.

Valerio