Would you feel comfortable with this in your classroom?

Its the start of a new term for my Italian class.

Here in Italy, there are subsidized Italian lessons organized in various regions and comunale, for residents as well as foreigners who carry a permesso di soggiorno (permit to stay). And it costs very little, ranging from 10 – 20 euro for about 40 hours of lessons, usually in a public school.

In any case, when I reached the classroom, it was an extremely chaotic encounter, with the new students of all the various levels of fluency all clumped up together. There were some who didn’t understood any Italian at all, and there were some conversing seriously with the teachers. And the teachers where looking quite stressed out, trying to get a sense of semblance of order.


But it was nice to meet familiar faces again, those whom I’ve been with in the same class last year. And as I walked in to sit down, all the faces lighted up in recognition, “Hey! Come stai? Stai bene?” And I cant help but to think, why do you people ask me only now when you ignore all my emails and messages

And then we were given a test. Before this, I was feeling quite nervous, thinking that it would be very difficult, testing us on topics such as passato prossimo, pronomi diretti and condizionale, that I even had a dream about taking a test the night before. But when I got the actual sheet of paper.


Freaking heck, its just a “What is your name?” “How old are you?” “Where do you come from?” Man, what an anti-climax!

But in anycase, while sitting in the class, I noticed something on the wall on every classroom that I’ve been in.


The first time I saw it to be honest, I didn’t care. A symbol is a symbol. Although admittedly it does make me feel very aware that I am a minority. Although these days, I don’t even see the symbol. Kind of like non-seeing ads in a website.

While I think that we should respect other cultures and leave it be, Cart thinks that there should be other symbols of faith along with it. What do you think?

Sidenote : Urgh, feeling sickish with flu, fever, sorethroat

17 Replies to “Would you feel comfortable with this in your classroom?”

  1. Hey Marina,
    I’m living in Rome and learning italian, too. I recommend you to check “centri sociali” in your area. They are usually occupied buildings with free workshops and italian classes. In my neighborhood, Pigneto, there is an italian class for women, too. These classes usually have different levels of italian and they don’t have any religious symbols at all. Mail me if you need more info.

    1. Really? I didnt know about that! Thank you for the information Sezgi ! That sounds very interesting!

      I think that there is a Centri Sociali near my place, but it doesnt look very active this year. Its rare that I see any activities going on. But I should investigate more πŸ™‚

  2. Quite a touchy topic in Italy. My personal opinion is that the symbol of a nation is something in which everyone can recognize a part of himself. And this is not the crucifix, not for me and not for millions of people who are not christians in this country.
    But there is a political battle on this issue, you maybe know it. Some political parties strongly defend the symbol in order to get the approval of the catholic establishment, that means only one thing: votes.

    1. Also I think that is is because of the majority of Italians here are Roman-Catholics, hence the symbols being in many places. Indeed, its quite the same when me and my girlfriends were in Thailand, there were so many Buddhist symbols everywhere we were at. To me, I cant say anything because its their culture which needs to be respected. So its the same here in Italy.

      Oh Emanuele, have you heard of the news where a school in Italy had a political party symbols being constructed on the walkpath?

      1. Sure. Another example of the interference of the politics in the education fiedl. Partially this is true for the crucifix also, when its presence is instrumentally used by some politicians

  3. I suppose since Italy is still a predominantly Catholic country who holds on very dearly to its tradition, culture and religion hence there are crosses in nearly all schools. I assume the situation is similar in predominantly Muslim or Buddhist countries whereby one finds the respective religious symbols in their schools and or public offices.

    1. I think that we are in agreement because it is the faith of the majority, the same as in Thailand being predominantly Buddhist, some parts of being predominantly Muslim …

      But would you agree that it would make it more embracing to have other symbols too?

  4. I guess it’s not something we’ll see in Singapore however like Elaine pointed out it is still predominantly Catholic which kinda explains that. It’ll be nice to see the classroom without it though it doesn’t make me particularly uncomfortable

  5. Ha, I’m so used to the crosses now, it doesn’t even faze me. Giant crucifix over the bed? Check.

    I had no idea that you could get discounted classes with a permesso! Thanks for sharing that tip. Is there a way to find a listing of where they offered? I moved to Rome recently and my Italian needs a lot of work!

    1. Hi Natalie! Welcome to Rome! πŸ™‚

      Yes, you could attend Italian classes depending on your commune and have a subsidized course with your permesso. I am not sure about the listing though because I only knew about this class through word of mouth and I don’t really see any official site about it.

      Why do you have a giant crucifix over your bed by the way?

  6. I wonder if anyone has seen schools and or public offices in predominantly Buddhist or Muslim or Catholic countries have other symbols other than that of the predominant religion.

  7. I do not understand why this might be an issue. Having attended a convent school from ages 6-17 having cruxifices in classrooms were norm. Having nuns walking around in their habit were norm. More than that, having classmates of different religions (predominately Muslims and Buddhists) were the norm. The parents of these children were of the understanding that they wanted to provide their child with the best education and just that. Receiving an secular education which happened to be a religious school in classrooms with cruxifices. If they were offended by the fact that such religious representation were in the classrooms where their little ones were having lessons, it would be highly hypocritical of them to put their child there in the first place. If, even, should the day comes where all religious symbols should be allowed in parish halls, classrooms, what is stopping a satanist from insisting their symbol of the devil to be placed alongside?

    Echoing Elaine’s opinion, if you are in Rome, do as Rome does. Italy is the nation of modern Christianity therefore it should have cruxifices and christian representation wherever and whenever they feel appropriate. It isn’t as if being in a room with a cruxifix is going to cause anyone to be any less devoted to their chosen religion or branded a judas!

    Likewise, when I visit or live a (for example) Muslim country, I fully expect NOT to consume pork, NOT to consume alcohol (apart from legalised bars), I fully expect to be dressed appropriately and obey the countrys laws. Most of all I fully expect to have all representation of their religion because at the end of it, there is beauty in diversity.

    As an example, France is a secular nation and have recently called for a ban on religious headscarves in schools. That, as far as the news reports did not go down well amongst the muslim community and have cited religious intolerance towards muslims. France went down the road of catering to all religions and faiths by going straight across the board (ie no religion get preferential treatment – very much like the suggestion of having various religious symbols in a classroom) in order to make “everyone feel comfortable”. That’s not really working is it? Someone will cry foul and you can’t please anyone.

    So let’s just embrace our different faith to the best of our abilities and not get caught up with “political correctness”! When in Rome..etc etc etc.

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