Friday, October 24, 2008


For those of you non-Italian speakers out there a sciopera (pronounced kinda like show-per-a ) is a strike. Strike's especially for teachers and students, yes in Italy students go on strike too, are not near as a big of a deal as they are in the states. Strikes here are usually only for one day where one party or the other boycotts school (or work, but this post is about school strikes) for the day and protests in the piazza. Well the reason that I thought that I would update my blog again so soon after updating it last time is something sort-of big has been happening in my town for the last two days and is possibly happening again tomorrow. That big thing is a sciopera for the students. Here has how the last 2 days of school have been for me.

When I arrived at school on Thursday all of the kids were gathered around the entrance of my school. Which is normal but today no one was going in to the school, which was weird. I asked a few of my class mates what was going on and they said that today there might be a strike. To me this sounded very weird because in the States students don't go on strike. Well one of the older kids got up and started speaking to the big group and then a whole bunch (almost all of the school) started walking back out of the gate. My class stayed because they had a big Latin test that they had to take that day so my class stayed so i did too. I didn't join the strike (which I didn't have any clue why they were striking because I didn't understand). So we didn't really have normal classes because the teachers didn't really teach anything all day because there were hardly any students in the school. Well at 1130 when we have our normal break what students were in the school went out so that we could have our break. About 5 minutes in to our break we see this GIANT mob of students holding signs and chanting (in Italian so i don't know what they were saying) So all of us students went back in side the building while this mob surrounded the school (it was really amusing to me because it was soo different) They all gathered around the school and one of the older boys got up with a megaphone and was talking to the whole crowd (me and my class were watching from the classroom) and they were all chanting and they had whistles and blow horns and signs and everything. The teachers were all watching and honestly they seemed amused too. The mob stayed for about 30 minutes at our school then continued walking down to do the same at the other schools. When I got out of school and came home I found out that there were student strikes all over Italy today and that they were on TV. The strike in Carbonia even made it on TV. Then My sister informs me that there is going to be another strike on Friday and Saturday. and that brings me to Friday, today.

Me and Ele get ready for school like normal except this time we don't take any of our school things with us to school because we know that there is going to be a strike and we don't want to carry our school books with us while we strike. So we get to school and again everyone is crowding around the entrance but this time NO ONE is entering the school, unlike yesterday when a few people went in. The same few older guys got up on the ledge thing and started talking saying that they didn't want to enter so the whole group of kids walked down the street to the piazza and waited for the kids from the other schools to get there because they aren't as close to the piazza as the classic/linguistic school is. Once everyone got there finally a few of the senior (5th year) students got up and started talking about all the problems and why we were striking while everyone stood around... there were sooo many students it was truly craziness but it was soo cool to see all the kids together for one thing. After they talked for a while we all just had to wait for the president of the school to show up, I'm not sure why but that's what I was told. To be honest it was really really boring and kind of hot waiting for the president to come talk to us. Well the boys got up and talked a few more times I'm not totally sure what they were saying but its something about the classes being cut and it not being fair for the little kids I think. At around 1130 they told us that we would be having another sciopera tomarro and we will be protesting at each one of the schools starting at 900 am.. So really today we didn't do anything but sit in the piazza for 3 hours and not go to school.

We all got ready for school just like we would normally but this time Claudio didn't drive us to school we went right to the piazza because this strike was already planned and everything was set in to place. so everyone waited around for about an hour until everyone showed up because it was planned for 900 some people didn't even come until 900 even though school normally starts at 830. there were SOOO many people there at least twice as many as there were yesterday. So they started passing out whistles and balloons for everyone to use and to blow up and then the whole mob started to (very slowly) walk in the middle of the street down the main street in downtown Carbonia. We were stopping traffic and everyone from there house s and the shops came out to watch the strike. everyone was shouting, yelling, using there whistles, blowing there blow horns and just being really loud (i have the massive headache to prove it). we walked all the way down the main street of Carbonia really slowly and stopping alot so that they could yell and chant together. I don't know for sure what they were saying cause i didn't really understand. Then at random times we would all sit down in the middle of the road so that we could listen to the "organizers" of sorts talk. We all walked together for about 2 hours very slowly through the streets of downtown Carbonia. We finally made it back to the piazza and then it was over. It was alot of fun even if i have a huge headache and am not sure why we were striking.. but hey... no school!!!

So I have figured out why I am striking (which we are still doing by the way). There is a new piece of Ledislation that is trying to be passed by the Italian Goverment. This legislation, created by Italian Leaders Gelmini and Berlusconi, is taking funds away from public schools (elementary and secondary, for now). With this piece of legislation, they are secretely trying to privatise the schools. As funds get taken away from the public schools, and given to the private schools, that means that teachers will be laid off, it means some students wont have chairs and desks to sit at. Because parents want the best for their children and their childrens education, they will take their children out of public schools, and place them into private schools, that, even though they receive large grants from the government, demand large sums of money for education. By this time, if there are less then 300 students in a school, that school must close. With the closures of most public schools, many students will, of course, be in private schools. But there is an even bigger, more sinister thing behind this as well. The government is also trying to shut down the public universities, In public university, you only have to pay like a thousand euro to go their for a year, but with the private universities, you have to pay, large, exorbitant amounts of money, like back in America (the government says it is trying to make the school system more "european", but it is looking more and more american). Many of my friends now are worrying that they will have to go to France or to Spain, or to some European country far from their home, to get a good, cheap, university education.
With that said, I am joining my friends in some of the protesting(peacefully) against this piece of legislation. We have protests almost everyday, that involve sit ins, traffic jamming, and the likes. (so yes, it is like I am living in the 70s, really it is like the 70s :) I have put up pictures on my web sight if you would like to see.

(side note: thank you for everyone who has left me comments on my blog, I love reading them they are very interesting, keep them coming)


Anonymous said...

Kendra, this great grandma is amazed and amused with all that is going on with you. What a terrific time in your life. I'll try to keep up with you on this venture. Stay safe though.
Thanks! Jan Kint

Anonymous said...

Dear Kendra,
I am Hedi Montgomery (Doug and Tracey's friend from Dubuque). You and your family came to our house sometime ago on Thanksgiving. Anyway, I am originally from Iran and I really can relate to a lot of what you are experiencing in Italy. I entered U.S. schools during my Junior year. Your blog about the strike reminds me of something that at the time seemed confusing to me during my first day in an American school. I was having such a hard time finding my classes (in Iran we also stay in one classroom and teachers change classrooms). Anyway, after getting lost several times, I finally made it to my math class (10 minutes late). I realized the class is empty and the teacher was catching up on his paperwork. He told me that everyone is in the auditorium for assembly. I had no idea what either one of these words meant but all I could do at the time was to sit in confusion and wait for him to feel sorry for me and help me out. By the time I arrived, the assembly was over and everyone was rushing back through the hallways. Needless to say that things got better and now I can laugh at my early days. Your mom was kind enough to add me to your list so I can receive your emails. I really think this is a fantastic experience for you. I hope you will come back rich in knowledge and tolerance for the world.
Your friend in Dubuque, Hedi

Lisa said...

Cool strike experience!! I'm glad you finally found out why. (-; Thanks for explaining it. It makes me really sad that the world (Italy, Monroe, Wisconsin) keeps cutting funding for education. It sounds like in Italy only the wealthy will have access to quality education - widening the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged. Interesting that this is happening. Quality education. Equal opportunities for all. That's what democracy depends on and here you are living in the country where the foundations of democracy started. Thus - stikes! Great cultural experience. Hope it comes out o.k. A fun American movie about Latino students striking for their rights in the 60s is "Walkout". Maybe you can see it there. (-; Profe