By Arlene Gonzalez-Kelsch
Let me get right to it. I am an American woman trying to find employment in Bologna. I am not writing anything heartfelt or romantic at the beginning of this article (it’s coming, though) because I don’t know how many readers are going to stay with me throughout my desperate plea for help in making my dream come true.
I’m a U.S. citizen and live in Houston, Texas, currently employed in marketing and consumer research for a television station. Bologna Press gave me the opportunity to write an article, which as I type this I am praying it will be published. It’s an opportunity to tell hundreds of thousands of people that I want to be a contributing part of the amazing city that is Bologna.
“Why in the world would you want to move to Italy, Arlene?” Many Italians here in the U.S. and in Italy ask me this. I hear how difficult it is to get the simplest of tasks completed – red tape, extended periods of time waiting for a wide variety of products or services and many, many inconveniences. And, yes, I know about its economic situation. I don’t care. I have dreamed about this for years and as some readers may understand, I have to try to reach my goal or live with regret for the rest of my life.
Now, the romantic part of the article.
When I am not visiting Bologna, I am dreaming about it. Of the 11 times I have visited Italy, four of them have been to Bologna. Not once have I been treated poorly. Some Italians tell me that is because I am an American tourist, but I truly feel it is because I try to fit in with the city. I try to speak Italian and I can get my point across, although sometimes when I get stuck speaking to a shop owner, some Spanish words get thrown in to fill the gaps. I slow down my usual hectic American ways to enjoy my surroundings like the Bolognese. I am friendly and humble. I am a guest in your city. My last trip was in November 2017 and I actually had a tear in my eye as I got on the train headed to Milan.
When someone asks me which city in all of Italy I’d like to live, I respond with Bologna. It is the perfect combination of the culture, art, and beauty that I see in larger Italian cities, but with the intimacy of the smaller country side villages I adore. My memories of Bologna are always with warm, golden colors and tons of twinkling lights.
Bologna, by far, is the food capitol of Italy. (Yes, I did visit FICO a couple of months ago.) Salame, burrata, tortellini en brodo and Pignoletto frizzante. These are my four major food groups. I could live off of these forever. When I return to the U.S. smelling fabulous, I always give credit to the kind employees at Antica Profumeria Al Sacro Cuore. Calcio? Of course, Bologna F.C.! Free entertainment? I can always count on finding impromptu group dancing taking place around midnight in Piazza Maggiore. Recently, the most memorable experience I had was outdoors at night, where there was a bustling outdoor market with baked goods, pizza, seafood, desserts and much more. It was freezing that night, but no one cared. I was alone and had a wonderful time, just me and my Prosecco. Well-dressed Italian men wearing great cologne is a bonus. I don’t know how many people in these crowds knew each other, but I sensed they were all a part of each other.
Back to work. I think I can help businesses in Bologna that are interested in expanding to the U.S., but are unfamiliar with how U.S. business is conducted. My expertise is research and I would love nothing more than to help Bologna grow. I have developed many contacts in the food and beverage industry (Italian and U.S.) because of my three year membership with the Italian Chamber of Commerce-Texas (recently ranked among the top ten Italian Chambers throughout the world). I volunteer and participate in a wide variety of business activities, including the wildly popular Taste of Italy convention in Houston taking place in March. Italian food and beverage companies from Italy visit Houston to introduce their products to the American market.
I am certainly open to continuing with my profession for any media outlets looking for an American perspective with marketing and consumer behavior.
Also, I am also completely open to serving gelato at a gelateria.
Hopefully, I will be in Bologna again this April, trying to make as many business contacts as possible. At the very least, if I don’t find business contacts, I always find new friends. Friends across the world are priceless.
You have my mind and heart, Bologna. Please adopt me.