Rome is one of these undefinable places that somehow always makes everyone’s top 5 city list and how could you argue against that? What’s not to love about Rome? Historical ruins. Check. Great food on every corner. Check. Deserts for breakfast. Check. But with amazingly awesome cities there always comes unbearably great responsibility.
Last week I found myself in the most international setting I have ever found myself in, and mind you I am half Filipina, half Austrian living in Norway with my half American and half Greek husband (and yes our family dinners do sometimes require a neutral mediator and a very good translator). I sat in on the 42. Committee on Food Security (CFS) and the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (for short FAO) in the heart of Rome. Where I listened in on how the Private Society Mechanism wanted to eradicate hunger by 2030. I listened to many translations from different nations about their personal experiences over the last year and how they have achieved lower poverty, how they raised the access for everyone to more education and how the nations came closer to gender equality.
It was an intense week with little sleep, many headaches, many disappointments but great encouragement, great possible future collaborations and most definitely a once in a lifetime experience. We are all people and we all are human and I think, sometimes, within these big settings we forget to think about that what we are discussing is the wealth, the happiness, the survival of human-beings. We discussed war zones and the nations impacted by climate change. We discussed the situation that women, men and children find themselves in, not being able to drink clean drinking water, not being able to have proper sanitation, not being able to work, not being able to eat. These negotiations are “easier” when you sit at a conference with a full belly, able to drink however much water you want daydreaming about your next big Italian meal.
Everyday we would start the panel at 8.30 am and wouldn’t get home until well after 10 pm. You get used to little sleep and little exercise. The only exercise you are actually able to do are mental exercises, wondering how many more interventions there will be before the break. There are many smart people out there and many important things they want to say, but I think, that sometimes, you just need to take a step back, sit down in the neighborhood cafe and watch “normal” people live their lives. You’d be amazed. Probably just as amazed as I was by this cappuccino. My early morning ritual.
My early morning cappuccino became my spiritual sanctuary. I was almost still asleep before I entered the next-door tiny little cafe in the Jewish ghetto. I was greeted by Alessandro who knows everyone’s name, everyone’s favorite hot beverage and he knew that a single cappuccino was not enough for me (which is why he always gave me a triple one without me ever asking). At the end of the long days, however, I found myself restless and confused. No matter how wonderful my morning was, I always felt beat at night. And what do you do, when you don’t know where to go from here? Well, you take a walk. Stroll through the plastered narrow streets, let yourself get lured into restaurants, eat pizza and drink wine. Preferably while sitting next to this beauty:
Let me tell you, even after every single most wonderful meal, coffee, desert, gelato and anything edible and drinkable in between, life doesn’t get easier. The arguments from all sides around the globe during the endlessly long plenary sessions are still ringing in my ears. I guess the real problem is me not being able to understand or relate, how could I? Why would I want to relate to a country that relentlessly works against global health and clean drinking water as human rights? Why would I want to agree with a company that drills their protegees into money-sucking minions with no regard for the social implications that their decisions might have? I cannot relate because this in my head, makes no sense, but that’s just me.
So, how am I to conclude this blogpost that so fittingly I called Rome is for lovers when there clearly was no love in the air during the CFS? I tell you how, I just have to take this experience and run with it. Work with what I think is good, after all, who is to say that my intentions are all that good? All I want is for children to be happy and safe, for women and men to have access to their basic needs. It sounds like such a simple thing, but achieving this goal is not an easy task. And this goals, I can guarantee you, is not achievable after a week long battle in Rome, but maybe we got a teeny tiny step closer. Maybe. I can tell you though, Rome is for lovers. You see couples hand in hand, giggling, whispering into each other’s ear, steal a kiss here and there. You cannot help but feel loved. If only that would transfer into the plenary sessions as well. So, yes, we are a long way from resolving any issues, but then again, Rome wasn’t build in one day either…