I’ve been quiet about what I’ve been working on this year, but with less than a month left until the end of my time at SACI, I think can finally start sharing. My thesis project has been underway for about five months; I started talking to the organization I’ve been working with in September and shooting since October. There's so much to say about this experience, but I can summarize it like this: it’s been both the most difficult and the most rewarding project I’ve ever undertaken.
Every Wednesday morning, I take the 9:40 train 40 minutes out of the city of Florence to a sleepy borgo. From there, after driving 10 minutes more into the hills, away from town, I reach a little old house. This place is called centro d’accoglienza straordinaria, or center for temporary assistance.
There are 144 houses like this in Tuscany and more than 3,000 in Italy as of 2014. Generally they are old bed and breakfasts or agriturismi or even unused vacation homes assigned by the Italian government, and their purpose is to accommodate migrants who are going through the process to remain in Italy legally. After months or years, many of these applications submitted are eventually denied (about 50-70% from this demographic) Until then, residents go to school, look for work, and wait.
This centro in particular is home for around 20 young men from central Africa, bringing with them many different cultures, backgrounds, languages, and stories. I take photographs, sometimes use my photos in Italian lessons, and use my own imperfect grasp of the language to stumble through conversations about what it means to make a life here.
From the very beginning, this was conceived as a book combining photos, interviews, and stories. This book is called Attesa, and you will be able to read said book very soon! However, until then, here is a little preview of life in a centro d’accoglienza here in Italy.