Saturday, October 25, 2014

Becoming Italian

In July of 2009, I hired a lawyer to assist me with requesting Italian citizenship. My mom's family is all Italian, and Italian was the first language my mom learned to speak. When she was at school, the teachers asked my grandparents to stop speaking Italian to their children because it was making their life harder to lear Portuguese at school. So they did.

My mom no longer speaks Italian, but as you can imagine, has a very strong connection to the culture and the country too. So when I was living in Europe, after visiting Italy with my mom, we started speaking about recovering our Italian citizenship.

Anyway, millions of small document correction processes later, in March of 2013 I finally got all the documentation issued, translated and validated by the Italian Consulate in Porto Alegre.

Since my mom wouldn't be able to apply in Italy any time soon, and the line in Brazil is 10 years long, I decided to apply for Italian citizenship myself, in the United States, where I live now. The consulate website said the average waiting time for processing such requests was 5 months.

I got my appointment scheduled for July 16th, 2013. There I was: nervous as hell, I entered the consulate to have a chat with a very friendly gentleman.

After filling up the forms, talking about retirement in the Alps and how Como Lake is beautiful, we agreed that, if I haven't heard from him until after New Years, I would email him and he would tell me what happened with my case.

Back I went to the office, and after 1 hour of traffic in the US101 from San Francisco to Menlo Park, life moved on. Business as usual.

December arrived, but no news from the consulate. Then in January I emailed the consulate to ask for news. I never heard back. I emailed again, and again, and so I did for several times. Radio silence. I thought they just lost all my papers and were not able to tell me or something. I thought it was all lost.

A few months after giving up on emailing, I escalated: I started calling them. I called once, twice, a dozen times. All the time I got the same: no response, until a message would say something along the lines "Thank you for calling the citizenship office. We are all busy, but leave a message and we'll get back to you as soon as possible. Sweet! Except that after the beep, there was another message "This mailbox is full". No message for me.

I tried a few times again, and sent a few emails again. Nothing.

This past week, I was on my way to an event in San Francisco. It was a one hour ride in a bus, so I used that time to, once more, send an email to the consulate. About 20 minutes later, an answer. Wow.

The message said I should actually contact another email address. So I re-sent my message and went to my event.

At around 3:40PM, I got an email. The email said:

"Ms. Weiden,
Please find attached a scan of the letter of recognition. If you did not receive the original, you can pick up a copy when you come in for your passport, but please be aware that it is unfortunately water-damaged from the second time my office flooded mildly."

After the millionth time reading the letter, I start paying attention to the details: the letter is dated: July 25th, 2013. This is 9 days after I applied. What the hell?! My Italian citizenship has been recognized for almost 1.5 years and they didn't inform me.

So I go back home, drink more wine than it is responsible to do. Post pictures of my tongue on Facebook. Celebration time!

Next morning, with a hangover, Mark looks at the pile of mail we received the day before. One of them was from the Italian Consulate in San Francisco. It tells me that I will soon have the opportunity to vote to choose members for the Committees of Italians Abroad. So it seems I would get to know about it one way or the other.

1 comment:

Kay said...

Thank you for sharing your experience about this subject, my father was from Ireland wanted to do the same thing if possible. He has passed away and I have little info on him and his family.. should be fun. Its like the show "Who Do You Think You Are" on TLC, anyways, thanks for your insights!