The tale of an Italian interning on the 'Rock'
Master's student fascinated by Jamaica's culture, lifestyleSunday, October 17, 2021
BY ROMARDO LYONS
Italian postgraduate master's student, 27-year-old Jacopo Butti thwarted disappointment when he jumped at an opportunity to complete a school-required internship in Jamaica.
The Bergamo, Italy, native was supposed to have completed his internship in 2020, but his plans went up in smoke because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“My university gives the chance to postgraduate students to carry out a period of internship, providing a grant for the students who decide to go abroad. And so, I took advantage of this possibility. During the second year of my master's degree, I should have carried out a period of internship but with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was not possible for me to do that,” Butti told the Jamaica Observer in an interview.
“I received my master's degree in human rights and international cooperation in April at the University of Bergamo. My degree is part of the law faculty and it started in 2019. The study plan was composed of different subjects, but the focus of the course was the history of international cooperation, development economics and human rights.”
Butti told the Sunday Observer that this is his first time in Jamaica and he will be staying in Kingston for the next four months, while working with human rights group Stand Up for Jamaica.
“I decided to come to Jamaica, thanks to the fact that I already knew Miss Gullotta (executive director) for her work with Stand Up for Jamaica and her past as organiser of musical events, writer and promoter of reggae music and Jamaican culture. I will try to learn everything I can about Jamaican culture in this period. I will have to get used to a different environment and especially with a completely different language, but I have already begun to do it, observing and listening to the people around me,” he said.
“Every day that I spend at the office is an opportunity to learn and see what is the real world in which a non-government organisation works for the respect of human rights. I got here a month ago and so I have just started to see the surface of what Stand Up for Jamaica does.”
Despite being in Jamaica for only a month, Butti added, he sees where other foreign nationals could benefit from interning in Jamaica.
“It's a normal feeling for a young student or a young worker to want to go to another country to do an internship, and I think that this is true for every country in the world. At the same time, it depends on how many chances you have to do it and also it depends on the subjects and on the working environment in which you would like to work. Personally, I would recommend Jamaica to other human rights students to carry out an internship, even though I got here only one month ago and I still have a lot of things to learn.”
However, he would be remiss to not highlight how big of a contrast Jamaica is to his way of life.
“Jamaica is very different from Italy, especially from my hometown,” he said, wide-eyed.
“The food, the environment and the weather are different. I'm eating a lot of chicken here in Jamaica. I usually didn't eat so much chicken when I am in Italy. And the local fruits and vegetables here are amazing. It's really hard to find such good tropical fruits in Italy. I also like yam, callaloo, soursop and June plum. And I see that here, the people have a different mindset and a different way of living everyday life, but at the same time, there are also some similarities, especially due to the fact that we both live in a westernised world.”
But the biggest challenge for him at the moment is language, he admitted.
“The patois... I would like to learn it and try to speak it, but it will be hard. For now, I'm trying to understand the best I can. Sometimes I watch some video lessons on YouTube to learn new words or grammar structures,” said Butti.
But the human rights enthusiast finds solace in reggae music. Since 2006, Butti has been a member of a cultural association, BergamoReggae, that promotes reggae music and culture.
“Every year, we organise one of the most popular reggae festivals in Italy, the BergamoReggae Sunfest. Thanks to BergamoReggae and its members, I have come to know Stand Up for Jamaica and Miss Gullotta. So, I decided to contact her to ask if it was possible to carry out an internship at Stand Up for Jamaica and she accepted my proposal.
“I can say that some of my favourite artistes are Yellowman, Culture, Freddie McGregor and Barrington Levy. But I also like new-school artistes like Lila Ike, Protoje, Jah9, Chronixx, Koffee, and definitely Damian Marley. I have to make a special mention of Bob Marley, who was the first reggae artiste that I ever listened to and he is one of the reasons why I started to get closer to reggae music. He is one of the best artistes who ever lived,” he said.
“As for the songs, I can say Ring the Alarm by Tenor Saw, Big Ship by Freddie McGregor, Trench Town Rock by Bob Marley, See Dem a Come by Culture, Wanna be Loved by Morgan Heritage, and Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt by Yellowman. All of them have a special meaning for me and give me a really good vibe,” Butti said.