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From the start of the article I identified with it in a big way. I myself am half Italian and half Chinese, with both of cultures playing into my life in profound ways. I grew up with one set of grandparents being called “Nonnie” and “Papa” while the other set was called “Kon Kon” and “Who Who”, my family has always laughed if we have kids will they call my dad “papa” and my mom “Who Who”. This mixture of cultures I live by parallels the way I look.The constant question of “What are you?” by people I just met is such a common occurrence it doesn’t phase me anymore. Then they guess I am Filipino, Islander, Latino, Chinese, Jewish, European, or anything else; Astoundingly, I have heard them all and more. I believe the author accurately summed up the feeling when other people feel the need to “figure you out”. Growing up with strict Catholic and very old Italian values grandparents has shaped the way I have viewed Italians, Italian Americans, and myself. The stereotypes I have derived from my experience with my family, and the media has played a part in the way I recognized the stereotypes we fit and the ones we do not. The first thing that comes to mind is congratulating those who made it through Catholic school alive. I never attended one myself, but my grandmother was a Catholic school teacher and while I love her, I would not have survived. That describes a common difficult Catholic school stereotype, I have heard it on TV multiple times. Then I get descriptions from my dad, who did attend Catholic school, speaking how some nuns did take tougher disciplinary action. Another extremely common stereotype is the fact that many Italians wave their hands about or make large motions when they talk. I did not recognize this as an Italian stereotype until classmates actually pointed this out to me early on. Any of my friends will be able to tell you how much I unconsciously use my hands when I speak, and I know I get it from my family. In fact, there has been many dinners where we get into talking and laughing, then someone's motions (most likely my nonnie’s) will knock over a wine glass and make a mess. When I first started taking Sign Language people would joke that since I was Italian I already spoke sign. This is one of the most common stereotypes for me, and it may be annoying sometimes, but there are definitely worse ones that could be inflicted. Additionally a stereotype I have heard through television and my family alike has been the Italian love for wine, particularly red. I can not speak for any other Italian or Italian American, but I know how much my family enjoys sitting around the table talking over a bottle of red wine. Also I know the large amounts of red wine is produced in Italy, but stereotypes are difficult because they can never speak for everyone of a culture. From my experience in their common stereotypes I do believe them to be as close to accurate as stereotypes can be. I have never watched Jersey Shore, and could really not have thought of any other stranger stereotypes I am sure the media has thrust upon Italians, aside from the stereotypical picture of a man in a striped shirt pushing a boat in Venice. Throughout this course I am excited to see what the true Italian life is like, and live the culture my nonnie is always talking about.
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Sep 26, 2015