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One pandemic, two cultures

China Daily | Updated: 2021-01-23 10:00

Hu Lanbo (right) with the then Italian ambassador to China. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Straddling two cultures

This realization played a major role in her decision to put pen to paper and relate the stories of Chinese residents' life in Italy during the pandemic.

"As I spoke to other Chinese people in Italy I realized that almost every individual, family, or organization played some role in providing masks or helping out in some other way, and the idea for the book came from that," she said.

Hu said she invited members of the Chinese community living permanently in Italy-tourism professionals, actors, translators, designers, writers, musicians, educators and mediators, from Palermo in southern Italy to Turin in the north-to tell the story of how the pandemic had changed their lives. She said 20 people submitted stories that appeared in the book, even including one poem. Most were written in Chinese and translated into Italian.

The 20 best stories appeared in the 232-page book Noi Restiamo Qui: Come La Comunita Cinese Ha Vissuto L'Epidemia (We'll Stay Here: How the Chinese Community Lived Through the Epidemic). Hu said that collecting the stories and editing the book, which was published in last September in both Chinese and Italian, became her main focus during the pandemic.

"Now it's been 10 months since the start of the pandemic in Italy and five months since we received the last contribution to the book," she said. "We have captured a piece of history by telling the stories of our lives during such an unusual period, and that gives this book meaning."

"That whole experience also made me realize how much a part of Italy I had become," said Hu. "Even after 31 years of living in Italy, I sometimes feel like a foreigner. But there are other times when I realize this country (Italy) is home to me now."


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