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Het verhaal van een Italiaanse expat

Interview met Bruno Gardini

De respondent die ik voor dit onderzoek heb geïnterviewd is Bruno Gardini. Hij is in 1947 geboren in Passatore in de Italiaanse provincie Piemonte. Tijdens zijn jeugd is hij nog naar het nabijgelegen Cuneo verhuisd. Later heeft hij aan de Techniche Universiteit van Turijn gestudeerd, hij rondde zijn studie af in 1971. Vervolgens heeft hij twee jaar dienstplicht gehad. Hij heeft daarna nog een aantal jaar in Turijn gewoond en gewerkt bij de universiteit. In 1975 is meneer Gardini geëmigreerd om in Noordwijk als ingenieur te werken bij de ESTEC (onderdeel van de European Space Agency). Hierdoor valt hij binnen de categorie van expats. In 1977 is hij weggegaan en in Duitsland gaan werken om in 1981 weer terug te komen naar Nederland en zich daar definitief te vestigen.

Door: Irene Garofalo

"And then came, fortunately for me, an offer for research fellowship at ESTEC." Hij kon daar voor twee jaar gaan werken, maar zijn contract was niet verlengbaar. Hij hoorde op deze manier bij de korte-termijn expats, hij was hoogopgeleid en ging voor een korte periode in het buitenland werken. Toch was hij heel blij met deze mogelijkheid.

"It was for me a tremendous opportunity to get out of an impossible situation, from one side. And of course I realized that outside Italy there was a lot of things going on that, and also very high quality work that was unthinkable to have there."

"You have to realize that in those days to move from Italy to Holland or any other place in Europe was still emigrating. There was still the control, the borders, the douane checkpoint everywhere. And it was not like now that you travel around very easily."

"And so I took, I had a small car, a 500 FIAT, and I left Cuneo and travelled to Holland. Took me two days. Also because I was not a very good driver. I just got the driving licence short time before. And the funny thing is that my English was very poor, almost non-existing. Which was the other really big problem I had. I could read and write in English, technical things. But I did not know how to say spoon or anything like that. So it was not so easy [...]. So the first experience: I arrived at the Dutch border and they asked me what I was coming to do. So they wanted to see the paper, the contract, everything and they asked me: ‘Where do you go in Holland?’. No, they asked me: ‘Where do you go?’. And I said: ‘I go to Noordwijk’. But my pronunciation was very bad, so they understood I was going to Norway. And they told me: ‘You are going to the wrong country!’. And, so they checked everything and they let me go of course.

Toch waren andere dingen in het migratieproces moeilijker. Dhr. Gardini geeft aan dat de voorbereiding wel een beetje kan helpen bij de migratie.

"So it was somehow difficult. But difficult because I, but my colleagues here as well, was not prepared to emigrate. So, for us it was a big step to come to Holland. [...] the opportunity came very suddenly and I was busy working in the university. Then the letter arrived in August and in August the university is closed. So I found it end of August when I went back to Torino. And in [...] two days I had to come to Holland. So I had no time, didn’t know where Noordwijk was. And so it was a rather hectic moment. So I just came here and had the interview. I was absolutely convinced I would never get the job. [...] And then I got an offer and came back to Holland at the end of October ’75. So the things went very fast. 


Over zijn werk voor de Italiaanse school:

"But from a personal point of view I think it was a very, very important experience. It helped me actually to come to Holland and to do something, to socialize even, if you want. Not just,work. It was also for me a moment of going up, don’t know, if you want to call it like that, to get out of the world I was living before as a student, as a university student. So I think it was an extremely important experience [...]. And it also helped me having this extra activity, it helped me to get used to the new environment, because the first feeling when you come to a foreign country, and that was the same for me, I was a little bit lost. At the beginning it was not so easy to adapt, to accept all changes are coming up and also of course as I mentioned difficulty in language and everything was new. So it took me a while. So it helped a lot, it created this bond with this small group of people, which personally, I think the initiative, it helped these other people as well, but it helped myself and my friends very much. Maybe even more.

De Italiaanse migranten waar ze met name mee spraken hadden twee reacties op het idee van de Italiaanse school:

"And from one side people who did not have the courage to start a new adventure like that and going back to school. I mean, if you have been a miner or a worker for 30, 40 years, and, okay, some of them were younger of course, but to go back to school is not, is not so obvious. Many of them, they were a little bit afraid that they would not make it. They were… So that was one aspect. The reaction from another group of people was: the Dutch government, the Italian government, they must help us. They must give us money, they must, they must, they must. That doesn’t work either. I mean, you have to help yourself if you want to achieve something. So it was, sometimes we had difficult discussion with these, with these people to convince them that this was something worthwhile to do for themselves. So we had, we were going to visit these people, also, I mean Delft is where at the end we had a major, a big group of people which really we could motivate. But we went to Amsterdam, we went to Haarlem, everywhere there was this, this group. Also Sittard, down the Limburg, but then was too far away for us. It did not really work."

Hij heeft verder nooit meer serieus overwogen om terug te gaan naar Italië:

"There were the certain time at the end, when I was still working in Germany that I got some very interesting offers from Italian industry. But something was lost.I did not trust that, I trust the people who gave me the proposals. That was absolutely no problem. I knew them very well. I did not trust the system. To go back to Italy, to start a new life over there, I felt, well I did not feel comfortable. Okay, I made the step to leave, twice, and there was no such a fantastic opportunity when you. Not only money, I mean also in terms, really in term of work. Something said, ‘yes that what they want to do. I go back, I do that!’ I could not find that. So I decided, okay: I stay abroad and that’s, that’s it. [...] If I did not have this opportunity to come back to Holland I probably would have stayed in Germany anyways. So, that is also were I met my wife by the way."

De tweede keer dat meneer Gardini naar Nederland kwam namen zijn sociale contacten een andere vorm aan. Om te beginnen waren veel van de vrienden die hij in 1977 had achtergelaten ook korte termijn migranten en waren velen er niet meer. Samen met zijn vrouw werd hij wel betrokken bij vriendenkringen van Italiaanse en niet-Italiaanse expats.

"Most of the friends I had in ’75 had left. Because we had also a lot of visitors, I was working with visiting scientist. And they also had a short term contract so they went back to Italy and to other countries. But then when Geo came to Holland of course we were a family, and it’s different. It’s different because okay, we had met again a lot of Italians. And it was a nice group of friends. She also got involved in the International House in Leiden. Leiden University had a kind of institution for foreigners, foreigner students. There were lot of PhDs in Leiden in those days. Several Americans but from all over the world. And so they had an international, in Rapenburg one of the houses over there, it was, now they sold it I think. But they had a small studio for visiting scientists and things like that. So it was a very nice group we met. We had very nice friends. We met there. It was very active so they were organising a lot of things from language course to almost everything. It was very nice, a very nice interesting community."

Meneer Gardini onderstreept vervolgens het multiculturele karakter van deze gemeenschap. "It was a much larger, larger community." Ze hadden behalve Italiaanse vriendschappen ook vrienden uit bijvoorbeeld Duitsland, Iran en Amerika. Sommige van deze vriendschappen zijn langdurig gebleken. Veel van hen bleven echter slechts enkele jaren in Nederland. Meneer Gardini vond het ‘extremely interesting from a cultural point of view, very, very, lively’.


"The question was to which school would we send our daughters? And at the end, we decided to put them into the Dutch system from the basisschool onwards, because first: there was no Italian school. If there would have been one, maybe we would have thought different. To go to International House, English, or French, or German, then they, thought, well they will acquire a culture which is not Italian, we did not like it. And then the other things that in International School there is a big turnover. Children change from one year to the next one many go away. And so we said let’s try at least for them to integrate and more into the environment. So we sent them to the basisschool here. Then later on to the Stedelijk Gymnasium in Leiden. So they grow up into the Dutch system, and I think it was the right decision. Of course we took the risk, if I had to move then of course the Dutch system is, you don’t find a Dutch school in another county.

Het feit dat meneer Gardini nog in contact was met familie en vrienden maakte het makkelijker om zich weer thuis te voelen in Cuneo als hij op vakantie was.

"Coming from a small village has the advantage you know everybody. So to go back was really like going back to a family. To a family, to a group of friends so from that point of view it was always very nice. Of course you accumulate different experience, but it did not, I did not feel as a, let’s say, an outsider."

In andere aspecten voelde hij zich toch niet 100 procent op zijn plaats in Italië.

"What I realized pretty soon, but that was also quite obvious, that I would not fit, is on working environment and on, on, let alone the political life in Italy. When you have an experience abroad and you see other things and you, you would never fit into that situation anymore."

But you know the story of my father is also something which has had an influence later on, because he also emigrated. In the 30 years he worked five or six years in France. And first as a, as a driver, then he worked as a smith, fabbro [smid], that was a big company, they build the road on the Cornice around Nice. Along the coast. And he was working for this company and he was making metallurgical treatments of the machine, of the board, they used to make holes in the rocks for the dynamite. And then from then he worked, became an electrician. So for all, and that I think is also what influenced our lives later on in terms of experience. He of course was speaking French, exceptional in the, all things, and it was, gave me and my brother the interest on the technical work. That’s the story, how it goes.

MondriaanstichtingVSB-fondsSNS ReaalPrins Bernard CultuurfondsOC&WVROM