Writer In Florence Ela Vasilescu

Day 93 – Where are you from?

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I have been seen in numerous occasions by new friends, avoiding to answer that question and that arose some other questions, so I decided it’s only fair to explain.

First of all I have never stayed longer than five years in a place, so even back home that question was a little hard from me to answer, because honestly I am from everywhere and nowhere. When I came to Italy the answer became simpler because I could resume my whole background to the whole country and not a city in particular, but still I avoided to answer. And now the question would be why? Well, my people are spread around the world and on the other continents they are known as hard working, fun to hang around, ingenious people with amazing skills; but on this continent, well… we didn’t do that much good. Some of the European countries associate us with gypsies and not the good kind, but the kind who steal, stab, and beg, so you could see where I am coming from. The other ones, know the difference clearly, but because many of our bad twigs ran away from the country to do their dirty work mostly in Italy and Spain, let’s say those of us who have nothing to do with that pay the price. It’s been more than once that I have said proudly I am a Romanian to an Italian and he would just roll his eyes and of course make either a comment like: “So, your country is awfully poor right?” or just stare at me and protect her purse for the rest of evening. The first two years I have spent here, my attitude was slightly different; whenever asked or given the chance, I used to brag about my country and the amazing people who live in it until… until one day I took a bus and because I was reading I missed my stop. I ended up in a part of town that I didn’t know at all and I started to watch outside the window hoping to see something familiar. As the bus went into a neighborhood I began reading the same inscriptions on all the walls of the buildings: “Romanians should all die! If any Romanian steps foot in here they will be exterminated! Beware we are not messing around! Death to all Romanians!”. Oh yes, good times. My first reaction was anger then I thought how mean could my people have been to be talked of this way. Ever since then I have understood that no matter how good of a person I would be, in this country if they don’t get to know me before they hear where I am from, I will be judged, sentenced and have no chance of anything.

I love my country and I love the people in it, but as all nations we have our bad twigs and our monsters. My country is among the most beautiful I have ever seen or heard about and the foreigners that have visited come up to me and say that it was an amazing experience that they will never forget. With all their flaws my people are warm, intelligent, with Latin blood running through their veins and all the characteristics that comes with it, amazing hosts and most of all we are raised to have dreams and to never let go of them no matter what. So, whenever I have to avoid the question: “Where are you from?” it makes me really sad and somehow I feel like I am betraying every single little mountain stone that I have stepped on and loved. It seems that sometimes the bad twigs can form a forest so deep that the rest of us who are genuine can’t manage to cut around it and show the real values and beauty that surrounds our history. I will say no more except that I come from a place of beauty and great values and that place shouldn’t have a name, it just is.

About the author

Ela Vasilescu

I’m a writer based in Florence, Italy.

Human nature inspires me, different cultures, traditions, folk stories and the differences which make us unique. Documenting stories is a privilege, a glimpse into humanity, an unforgettable experience, one which I embrace and honour every day.

If you have a story twitching in the back of your pocket, one that is ready to be told, shared and heard, chances are I will be ready to listen; so don’t hesitate to send me an email.

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By Ela Vasilescu
Writer In Florence Ela Vasilescu