For many dual citizens of both the United States and Italy, knowing that there are representatives in the Italian government dedicated to giving Italians in North and Central America a voice provides a feeling of connection despite being far away. Like the United States Congress, Italy’s Parliament is also divided into a bicameral system, with the Camera dei Deputati (Chamber of Deputies) mirroring the American House of Representatives, and the Senato della Repubblica (Senate of the Republic) mirroring the American Senate. In celebration of National Italian American Heritage Month, we sat down with the Honorable Fucsia Fitzgerald Nissoli, a member of the Camera dei Deputati who was elected to represent Italians living in North and Central America.
Can you explain your work in the name of Italians living abroad?
I was elected to the Camera dei Deputati by Italian citizens living in both North and Central America, so my work is concentrated on the issues that Italians living in those areas face. In Parliament, my work focuses on improving the services of Italian consulates, including employing new technologies in their work, as well as the promotion of the Italian language and culture, so that children of Italians are encouraged to study the language of their parents. I am also working for Italians who have lost their citizenship due to their ancestors emigrating abroad so that they can reacquire their citizenship with a simple request at their local consulate without having to go through a lot of paperwork. I also spend a lot of time promoting the “Made in Italy” initiative so that Italians living abroad can find Italian products of high quality, despite being out of the country, so that they can celebrate where they come from. I am also closely following the questions linked to Italians living abroad, for example, the conversion of drivers’ licenses or academic titles. Through my work in Parliament, I am trying to assist as much as I can with the daily needs of Italians living abroad. It is a complex job that requires a constant dialogue with my colleagues, because it is impossible to win these battles alone and so what I want to do is to help people abroad understand what Italy truly is, to help others see the beauty of all of the Italian communities spread throughout the world, and to make people understand what an enormous resource these communities are for Italy!
Why did you decide to dedicate your political career to Italians abroad?
I felt the need to do something that was worthwhile for the people who shared my own situation of being an Italian abroad. I have lived in the United States for 30 years, so I decided to put myself forward to represent the Italians of North and Central America in the Camera dei Deputati.
There are many Irpinian communities in the United States—have you ever visited any? If so, what struck you the most about them?
I have not yet visited any specifically Irpinian communities, but I have met many people of Irpinian origin in both the United States and throughout North America. It is interesting because, although their lifestyles in their new countries are different, what unites these people is their strong attachment to their roots, which creates a culture based on humanity that shines through no matter where you live.
How can Italians living abroad best maintain their ties with Italy?
They can do them by joining various organizations related to Italian culture as well as by learning the Italian language. Also, in today’s world, new technologies allow people to be informed about what’s going on in Italy much better than in years past without taking anything away from emigration as a whole, which represents an important instrument around which people can find themselves and create their own identities.
Do you have anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! I’d like to say that working abroad and visiting the various Italian communities that are around the world, I have had the opportunity to discover the “true” Italy, which has made me be even more proud of my country! Because of this, I can confidently say that abroad, Italy is seen and felt deeply!