Texts: Interview with Noah, my nephew

Noah and David rest in the grass after playing.
Svínoy, Faroe Islands

 

Noah and David rest in the grass after playing.  

Noah Guttesen is my 10-year-old nephew. He lives with his parents, my sister and Faroese brother-in-law, in rural Italy. Like me, he is figuring out how to be American and Faroese in a country where he doesn’t fit.  

I connect with Noah’s experiences because they mirror my own: The isolation, the struggle with dyslexicia in an educational system that doesn’t recognize the condition, and the separation from friends and extended family. He is my version of a self-portrait. 

This is the transcript from a recent conversation on Skype. 

Benjamin – What language do you think in and dream in? 

Noah – English. 

B – Do you feel more American, Faroese or Italian? 

N – Uhhh, I think Faroese. But I don’t know where I will live when I grow up. I think I will just live in Italy for a while. 

B – Do you like living in Italy? 

N – Yeah, I have got lots of friends here. I like the food, especially. And I like the little, the little, the little…How do you say a little city? 

B – A town? 

N – Yeah, I like the town I live in. 

B – When you go back to the Faroes and visit [your cousin] David, do you think he understands what Italy is like, or is that hard to explain to him? 

N – It is pretty hard to explain to him, because I think he imagines it another way. He thinks it’s really cold, like there. And that there is only pizza and only wine and those kinds of symbols of Italy. 

B – Do ever wish that you were growing up in the Faroes or the States instead of Italy? 

N – Sometimes, but it would be really different. I would have to start making friends all over again, and learn another language and write it, because I already write in Italian. 

B – Do you feel like you are different from the Italian kids? 

N – Yep. I don’t know so much of the culture. I’m not very good with the gramatics. And I’m not very good at school. 

B – Do you think the way that your mom and I grew up is similar to the way you are growing up?  

N – Yeah, because you are from one country and growing up in another country. 

B – Does Italy feel more like your home? Or does the Faroes or the United States?  

N – I don’t know. It depends on how long I stay there. I think now it is Italy, though.