Michael’s diary - Remembering who I am

March 11, 2024

When people ask me the question “Where do you come from?”, I would always answer “Australian”. However, throughout my entire life, it never felt like the correct answer because I grew up as Italian.

To kick things off, I was raised by my Italian grandparents. My parents weren’t around much, so I had the pleasure of being exposed to a traditional Italian family right from the start of life. Everything from growing tomatoes and lettuce in the backyard, to drinking strong black coffees in the morning with relatives who would complain about the younger generation, to having homemade pasta for lunch with a side of scopa, and to finishing off the days with an Italian novella. 

My grandparents would rather skip the coronation for the next pope than miss a second of the cinematic brilliance of “Posto al Sole”. Everything was great. Simple, but great, until it was time for them to pass on the proverbial torch to the younger generation. And that, they did. My grandparents gave me a gift that I never knew the importance of: Italian culture. 

Michael's family during a birthday party

When I was 4 years old, my grandparents decided that it was time for me to understand who I am and where I come from. And so, when we arrived in Calabria and I met my new family, I was scared. I didn’t know who they were, I had no idea of their intentions. However, I could understand to a degree what they were saying. There was a weird familiarity to them; they spoke and acted similar to my grandparents. However, the deciding moment was when we sat together for dinner. What I felt was an unparalleled warmth that, in retrospect, is something I fondly remember 18 years later. And so, for the next 6 years of my life, I lived amongst my people.

Many years had passed, and I had blossomed into adulthood and had integrated into the workforce as a filmmaker. Although things had seemingly settled for me, I had received a rude awakening and a cruel reminder that life is never easy: my grandparents had passed away. It was a tragic yet expected loss that my family and I had the unfortunate foresight to experience. 

As I was at the funeral, mourning their passing, I found myself also mourning what they represented to my family and I: Italian culture. My family had spent the majority of our time in Australia integrating into Australian culture, and in doing so, we had forgotten most of the language, forgotten our cultural celebrations, and inadvertently rejected our Italian origins. To me, this was a decisive moment in my life to reclaim my culture again and in the same process, to keep my grandparents alive in my heart. Although I meant well with my intentions, how should I go about this? Return to Italy. And thus began my journey to Milan.

Ready for a life-changing experience in Italy?

Take your chance and shape your future in the “Bel Paese”!

Explore our programs!