Monday, February 13, 2017

Italian is Fun-damental  
Emmanuel had his first Italian lesson with me today at the literary coffee shop. He was very sweet, as usual. 
I discovered that the book I got him is not going to help very much because he does not know how to read English. Instead, I invented a sign language system to help him memorize the different subject pronouns in Italian and how to match them with the verb endings. For example, I eat, I sleep, I work in Italian is expressed by making the verb end in the letter "o." I taught him to make a circle with his index finger and thumb and put it over his eye to remind him that when he says "I" do something, he needs to make an "o" sound with his mouth, as in "mangio, dormo, lavoro. .." 
We started with the Italian alphabet so that he can spell his very long last name for the officials.
He explained to me that it is hard to learn when his brain is always trying to keep track of what his son Precious is doing without him in Nigeria. Is he eating? he wonders. Has he bathed today? Did he go to school? It is hard not to know, but his brain is always searching for answers. It is like hitting his head against a wall. I tried to be encouraging. The lawyer said knowing Italian would help his case in asking for political asylum. And that in turn, would help him to get Precious here. 
He had a lot of questions because he knew at least a dozen phrases in Italian, but not why they were constructed in a certain way or what the individual words stand for. They were nice to us at the cafe. Today, we didn't have any problems from the police, but I have to remember to make sure I have my stay permit with me at all times in case I have to produce it or justify why we are together. We have never been asked for our permessi di soggiorno by police while going about our daily lives in Lucca, but F had to produce his to explain why he was giving a donation from our car to one of our group members. Best to be always prepared.

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