Alyssa Ruste Culture and Identity Envoy Culture Shock Temple Rome

Diversity in Rome

Temple Rome hosted a walking tour around Rome, and it was one of the most engaging tours I’ve ever been on. I admired our tour guide’s ethnic background. She was well versed with the streets of Rome and provided students a greater insight that I will definitely take away. The walking tour was a nice experience because I got to explore a nearby area that I wasn’t exposed to for the first few months. We made many stops to ethnic businesses like a Chinese medicine shop, a Japanese store and outdoor market. I remember I was struggling in the beginning to find diversity and connect with my roots in the city I’d be living in for the next four months. It was a bit more of a culture shock than I expected. During the first couple months, all I knew was this international grocery store chain

and a few Asian restaurants that I could go to. I was craving Mexican and Chinese food to the point where I started learning how to make my own comfort food at home, but seeing all these resources on this excursion was helpful to be aware of from now on. When we went to the Japanese store, it was nice to see fellow students and advisers have an appreciation for the same culture I adored growing up. We would talk about our favorite snack and our connections with the different cultures. We also stopped by this beautiful street mural. It was nice to see this piece of artwork alongside the ruins of ancient Rome. I also believe it’s good exposure for the community of Rome and tourists to see. After this walking tour, I felt more comfortable in Rome and excited to try all the new places that were introduced to me!

Reflecting on the tour, I am glad to see that Rome is opening up to different cultures in their city. Although the number of resources is limited, it is a step towards appreciating diversity and allowing ethnic locals to live and thrive alongside them. There could be a sign of cultural appropriation if Rome only keeps these businesses for their own tourism profit, so it is important to check the intentions of opening up these businesses and who’s running them. If Rome is revamping different cultures and still making it their own or mistreating it, it would be disrespectful. It is crucial for ethnic businesses to preserve their cultural practices to better appreciate.

The next step would be to have a safe space for ethnic backgrounds. It was nice to see on the tour a refugee center as a place of resource. Rome could have more organizations dedicated to different cultures and events that celebrate them in their city. Even introducing this to their schools, so the youth can be exposed to life outside of Rome and support their peers. For me, cultural clubs and events at school exposed me to different practices, food, lifestyles, people, ideas and experiences. I also saw and felt that it was a safe space for people to gather and connect with a culture even if they were not personally identified. The education system plays a crucial role in the youth. They shape the way future generations think and act. I’ve even overheard how powerful the Migration in Rome course is at Temple. If there was a stronger cultural influence in student life and studies, young people will be exposed and might move them from within. However, it is important to consider how Italy might feel with the flood of cultures in their territory. It may stir fear and cause people to move away. Therefore, it is important to make a slow transition and to remind the community that migrants aren’t here to take their jobs or invade their space. Having these hard conversations could help shape the way people think and react. This gradual cultural movement could be seen in classrooms, workplaces and streets of Rome, so different generations can be exposed.

Nevertheless, the walking tour was a great resource available and fun experience in Rome. 

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