Recently, staff introduced iPads to the centre based programs at The Italian Village, St Agnes. Many of the members were very hesitant in using modern technology and did not want to use them at all – stating , ‘it is not for me, I can not understand how it works and would not know what to do – it is only for the younger generation to use’.
But, after some encouragement by staff, members were supported to navigate the tablets and how they worked. Memory games were played and other applications explored leading staff to enquire where in Italy members came from. This is when they were led on a journey through Google Maps.
Several of the clients had known each other before they had come to the program as they had come from the same town in the Province of Benevento, Italy called “ San Marco dei Cavoti” who had migrated to Australia over 40 years ago. Some had come with their family, others had arrived in Australia on their own with their wives and children following later.
One gentleman had stated that he, ‘arrived here with just a few belongings – the clothes and shoes I was wearing and a small suitcase.” He lived with family and remained there until he had saved enough money to bring his wife and children to Australia.
All the clients began to reminisce about the church and the church bells resounding during the week and on Sundays. Their experience during winter as the town was located in an mountainous region – how heavy the snow was and especially how cold the temperatures was.
They spoke about the Torrone factory which is located near the town – stating it was very famous, supplying most of Italy with this confectionery.
They chatted about their childhood as they recognized images from Google Maps, becoming emotional when they remembered how hard it was explaining to family members their decision and reasons in coming to Australia to find a new life and more opportunities.
Staff who sat listening and were of migrant parents who came with a young family also shared some of their own stories that their parents had told them about their migrant experience.
Our sense of longing remains for the cobbled streets of our hometowns, of familiar places that bring back memories of our birth, marriage, strong friendship and interconnectedness. For many, returning to these towns is but a dream as life takes curious turns. Technology can make dreams come true and the impossible possible. iPads and related apps open opportunities and provide a window to different and exciting parts of the world. It was wonderful for staff and members to have shared their journey together sharing happiness, joy and challenges of the migration experience.