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Alexander Viola
00:00 / 12:06

Audio Transcript:

my mum came in the 50s, my dad came in the 70s um...

my moth- my grandfather

who came in the 50s from Tocco in the Provincia di Pescara

which is in Abruzzo so he came over first and then he brought his six

or seven sisters over one by one

so then was your mum born here?

- ah yes, she was born... they'd only been here like a short while - ah okay

my dad was born in Italy umm he came when he was 15 so

so first my grandfather... my dad was born in Abruzzo but my...and so was my grandmother

but my grandfather was born in Puglia and he went to Abruzzo

- on military service and met my grandmother - yeah right

- they came to Australia - yeah right

first and then sent for the rest of the family and my dad didn't really know he was

- leaving forever - wow

this was as late as... like the early 70s

and he was one of the last to come by boat so yeah but he did fairly well I mean he

he he came here when he was 15 and then passed VCE English at 16


or it's equivalent

when my mum was brought home by my dad to meet the family they were in the

driveway and they could hear them from inside the

house and my mum goes 'what are they yelling about?'

and my dad goes 'what do you mean?'

my parents, they talk to each other, even now like between rooms like they have a normal conversation

yeah do you speak in Abruzzese dialect?

- um initially... - or do your family?

I mean yes, there's the problem is that even within Abruzzo

all the dialects are different cause the region is quite mountainous

yeah okay, I didn't know that

so Tocco, Toccolani is different from whatever they...Milanese

cause my dad's from a frazione of Sulmona um so it's not quite a commune

it's a little town, it's an offshoot of the town umm and they speak even, maybe not now, but even then the...

the frazione spoke different to Sulmona so even between towns they were a bit different yeah

but they... obviously they can understand each other through these dialects

they're not that diverse, in that sense, it's not like they're speaking Napoletana or something


yeah yeah

I knew more words like I could speak more like in Abruzzese than Italian

until I lived there for...when I went on exchange


the Italians would laugh at me cause I would say some stuff


that an Australian saying this is just really cute

yeah, totally

like they couldn't believe I like...

like an Australian speaking Abruzzese


like even the non-Abruzzese could understand it and they thought that was amazing that I...

yeah...was Italian your first language?

or was English your first language?

ah I was the first one in my family to speak English first, I could speak Italian decently


- and my brothers can't speak Italian - yeah right

cause my older cousins couldn't speak Italian


um and they got less and less fluent as they go on, if you know what I mean?

yeah totally

I saw a video of it recently, my baptism

it was basically The Godfather

where do you feel like you fit, if there is a place that you feel like you fit?

I would say from the outset I'm

definitely not Italian um even my dad who's born in Italy's

not Italian anymore...

Italian in a sense of like an Italian from Italy?

yes like, I mean, you look at the Italian like Italian Americans

on TV compared to watch an Italian program, like you know

it's completely different and like it's the same here

if you're not Italian

then are you Australian?

well you are Australian but I mean my brothers are Australian

because they're a bit younger and my cousins

are less Australian than me, I think I'm kind of stuck in the middle, to use a cliché

but what I do feel affiliation with is people my age who are not just Italian but

Greeks and from the Balk... Balkan states...other immigrants


like kind of you just you just you feel they're your family


like cause you have...your thing in common is where you are at

that point and you're just a bit lost


so that's what you identify with it doesn''s not really anything to do

with like race


like even culture at that point, it's just circumstance

um, I saw a question... oh forth 'what do you feel about the word wog?'


um, I mean

like I think it was a lot worse like ah, for our parents and grandparents


I mean, you shouldn't use it then... now, amongst ourselves, it's just a shorthand


I mean it's not...once or twice I've heard people say it to me when they're drunk or

something and it was inappropriate, it's not an appropriate, like, to say that


if you're not a wog

there is like a, like a unique kind of social, political

positioning of this kind of generation of Italians... what is that?

I think it's more existential


um no it's not it's really's not reflected anywhere

I mean this is a...I mean I mentioned I've kind of thought about these things in

- the past yes - yeah and you've written about it

and I'm really... this is a really thing good thing you're doing

because it's good to know that other people have kind of felt this


I mean, because people only see that... and obviously I'm not trying to... this is what you would

describe as a first world a sense that you know we're doing fine

we're fed and we're educated and so forth but you know

within that context I mean it's

people's solution to things are 'well just work harder and more money'


or something...but if you're kind of looking for more self-acclimation and then you don't even know...

like belonging? haha

yeah, belonging but you don't even know who you are


or if that is even...there is even the who that finds yeah that's, that's tough

I mean when you're in poverty and establishing yourself you have a

direction because you just know what you have to do


and yeah, we are a unique kind of position where you know we don't

really fit somewhere

but I think once you leave your home, you've kind of burnt

your home because if you go back 20 years later you're different and the

place has changed and the place that you have come isn't...wasn't your home

no yeah

so good unless... the people who have homes are the people who were born in

their homes and it's kind of grew up with similar people and that's their home

in some ways it's a disadvantage because it gives you the longing for a home

does open up different crevices of thought that you can start exploring things that

have nothing to do with it

here there is this like holding on to this place and

that the idea of the place of home that they have doesn't exist there either

which is like exactly what you were saying so they've like created this here in the

hope that will hold... keep the traditions that they were having at home but those

those things aren't there anymore

half the town came here


I mean like, they all know each other, like the town was it was just...

they kind of started the town here again

you still sort sort of cry in Italian


even though you are... you um... you think in English

how would you describe the unique culture that is an Italian Australian culture then?

the Italian Australian culture now, I would say, the Italians here, they've got

Australian friends and they bring them over for barbecues

with with the Italian family and so forth it's kind of like um, you can call it

the uh, sharing phase


where like, the things that we have from Italy like the

kind of meshing we have barbecues and beer and so forth

but afterwards we'll drink coffee

things, kind of, were very tough in like


the villages and so forth like um, you know if you had meat today you might not have meat for

a week you just... they just carry these things of like, you know,


like conservatism but not...

but it's not reflective of their income anymore

it's reflective of a mindset

exactly and that just goes into the way they

view everything else... kind of the way they approach the world

they still put their family and their kids beyond their happiness

I'm really generalising here

yeah, of course

like, what I've learned is that people are individuals


- but I think, in this context it's okay to generalise - of course

so you personally don't feel so hugely

connected to Australia, it doesn't sound like?

I'm interested in Australia

yeah, but from afar, kind of

yes, I like observing Australia like I like watching

politics in Australia and I care about their issues and stuff but um it's kind of like a

third-person observer... and I think I'm more detached than I should be in terms of

like I'm a unique example in that sense, like people... I'm not a

representative I think it's just more my personality I just I happen to have grown...

I happen to feel more connected to Italy

I wouldn't just say with possessions and material things just like valuing um...

the time you spend, you put into something like, like you really don't throw friends away

you don't like don't throw your ambitions away like

I don't know if it's like... I can't speak for Australian's on Anglo Australians

but yeah it's kind of like everything you do has a value and you're really mindful of

not wasting your life, not wasting opportunity, not wasting anything because

it's scarce

I mean social... I'll just touch on social capital first because just

from my experience but that's the one thing that every immigrant loses

the Italians that immigrate here now, their second wave so to speak, their nothing

like our families, um, they're nothing, they're nothing like us actually


they're just modern...more modern Europeans I mean they come here already speaking English

and so forth but they also stick together







if we're gonna be called wogs

and all this while I may as well be a wog and there's nothing wrong with that


and then you just kind of...and then you have a positive view of being

Italian Australian and so forth

you reclaim your identity

exactly cause otherwise you'd have identity crisis, as a teenager


do you know what I mean, so I do admit that like when I was younger I felt like that at many times

in my life

it's really changed quite dramatically for me um

but it's nice still having that that feeling of being Italian Australian left


and still proud of it, it's's still a part of me

but you don''s not a dominant...

it's not something sort of dominating thing that you always have to bring to the

forefront in every situation

but you did in the past?

yes, in the past you couldn't separate the two

you still sort of cry in Italian,
even though you think in English
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