Friday, June 29, 2012

Fa Caldo!

As it seems to be in many parts of the United States these days, it's hot in Rome!  Today is the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of the city of Rome.  It is a civic holiday here and the government offices are closed.  The house is abuzz with activity this week as delegates begin to arrive for our General Chapter.  More about that later, but here's a few pictures on this festive day.
So, there's a pyramid in Rome!
The new class of 2012: Gautier (Burkina Faso), Nereo (Mexico), Javier (Spain), Daniel (Kenya), me, Joseph (India).

The Basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls.  It's a bit of a hike from our house because, well, it's quite a ways outside the city walls.  But, it's one of my favorite churches so far because...
...this mosaic is beautiful and quite captivating.

...the interior is just a large, open space.  To be inside reminds you just how insignificant you are, and yet you are surrounded by God's grace and mercy. that's a Paschal candelstick!  (This one is for the liturgy nerds.  You know who you are.)

...the tomb of St. Paul and the chains which held him captive in Rome.

Piazza del Popolo and an obelisk that dates from 2400 B.C.

Piazza del Popolo with Brothers Bosco, Dani, and Daniel.

With Bro. Bosco overlooking the city.

Hey look....
... St. Peters.

Church of San Sabina and Generalate of the Dominicans.  I liked how the light was coming into the church.

At Trevi Fountain with Bro. Dani.  No, we didn't swim in it.

Tourists or Romans????

Just one more....This week, we celebrated the birthday of our Rector, Fr. Pachi.  Here he is toasting with the staff of the house.  Salute!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Take a number, and wait......

I learned a new Italian word today: incredibile (you can figure out the translation)

You might remember that shortly after I arrived, I had to apply for my permesso di soggiorno (legal residency permit).  After applying, I was given an appointment at a police station to take care of the last step in the process, and today was the day of the appointment.  I'd like to share a few lessons from today.

Lesson number 1 - Appointment-schmointmen:  Even though I was given an appointment (date and time), it doesn't mean anything.  You show up at the police station and take a number...and then wait.  I took number H-24.  The first number I heard called was G-94.  The station I had to go to is near the Vatican and exclusively handles priests and religious, so at least the crowd was friendly. 

Lesson number 2 - the value of A/C: The waiting room at this police station has, by far, the best air conditioning I have found in Rome.  It has been very hot in the city, and Romans seem to use as little A/C as possible.  But, I was actually getting a little cold.  It could have also been due to low blood sugar as our wait was now approaching three hours.

Lesson number 3 - make multiple copies of everything:  I was told to make ONE photocopy of all the requested documents and bring four passport photos.  While waiting, someone told us that we needed TWO photocopies of everything.  Luckily, I had extras with me.  However, when I presented the documents, one of the copies was evidently not good enough.  Fr. Pachi had to go and make new photocopies (Dan ran the same trouble) because, of course, there was no copier in the office.  Oh, and they only really needed 1 picture.

Lesson number 4 - two sets of fingerprints are better than one: Once all our documents were in order, they had to take fingerprints electronically (seems reasonable).  Then, I was directed to another room where they (you guessed it) took another set of electronic fingerprints.  At both places, they typed in my passport information and linked it to my scanned picture.  Efficiency does not seem to be their strong suit. 

Lesson number 5 - we're not done, yet:  I have to return on September 4 to participate in a session on civic formation and civil life in Italy.  I think this is where I learn how to correctly twirl my spaghetti on a fork.   

Lesson number 5 - gelato makes everything better:  All in all, this took about four hours.  Add in the bus ride home and we were going on five.  And then there was prep work beforehand as well.  Of course, we missed lunch, but there was plenty left aside and waiting for us when we got home...including some ice cream from the General Administration's "secret" stash.

A reflection: I now have a new-found respect for the entire immigration process.  Due to the slowness of the process and the lack of (and at times contradictory) information available, I found the experience frustrating, inefficient, and time-consuming.  However, I'm reminded that I did not do this alone.  Most of my documents were prepared by someone here in the community and I had support/help in the process (including translation).  Furthermore, I received a letter from the Vatican that (so it seems) stream-lined the process a little.  I'm left to wonder what the "average person" does.  How does he or she wade through the process alone? 
This experience has made me pause and think about the immigration debate currently going on in the U.S. (and that will escalate in this election year.)  I know it's not fair to compare Italy and the U.S. - both countries have unique cultures, processes, and concerns.  However, I have learned first-hand how difficult and tiring (and actually I get the sense that I had it easy) the bureaucratic process can be for someone who wants to be in a foreign country for legitimate purposes and is willing to enter into the legal process.  Just some food for thought as I enjoy my gelato.