Yesterday in my Italian class, my Kiwi teacher told me about his acting career, the TV and commercials he’s booked, and how much he’s gotten paid (turns out a lot for very little work). When he started off on a diatribe against immigrants in NZ (“They’re nice people, but I’m sorry, this is New Zealand!”) I found myself wondering how I could get him to shut the hell up.
Now, there was some difficulty because 1) he’s old and I’d feel bad telling him to shut up 2) I paid for his time and would like to continue the rest of the course in good humor + maximize my learning and 3) I’m the only student in the class.
So I tried to get him to tell me his inane stories in Italian, which was working about 50% of the time by class end. I think next class I’ll just respond to him only in Italian, and if he speaks in English I’ll just say ‘In italiano per favore!’ and smile with all my teeth. As for his racist comments, I’ll try a suggestion my amazing friend gleaned from her professor:
Smiling: “I really don’t appreciate your casual racism toward immigrants, can we please continue our Italian lesson :D”
Which in Italian is this, in case you were wondering.
Sorridendo: “Io davvero non apprezzo il vostro razzismo casuale verso gli immigrati, per favore, possiamo continuare la nostra lezione di italiano :D”
Witnessing racism and xenophobia not directed at me has been one of the most bizarre experiences about life outside of the US. It feels like I’m sitting in on the type of conversations that would normally be held (mercifully?) if I were out of the room. New Zealand has a rich community of immigrants from all over the world, and as an American immigrant myself, it’s one of my favorite and most comfortable bits about Auckland life.