Celebrating Nonni

One of the most precious family bonds is the relationship between grandparent and grandchild. Bridging the gap between generations, both parties have the opportunity to learn from each other. Such a beautiful, mutually beneficial relationship is certainly one worth celebrating, particularly when it spans not only the age gap, but also a cultural divide. Many Italian immigrants who moved to Australia in the 1950s, 60s and 70s are now grandparents to Australian-Italian descendants, who don’t have the lived Italian experience of their ancestors. Associazione i Nonni, created in 2005, is dedicated to recognising, celebrating and strengthening the benefits which grandparents (particularly those of Italian heritage) can have on their grandchildren and vice versa.

Associazione i Nonni – celebrating grandparents

Associazione i Nonni aims to raise the profile of grandparents within the Italian-Australian community. Whilst children bring energy, humour and fun to the lives of older people, grandparents have much to offer the younger generation. Not only are they wise, they also have good values, discipline, skills and cultural wealth to pass down in return. The grandparents’ association (a literal translation of Associazione i Nonni) runs a number of different projects which are intended to bring about greater mutual appreciation between the generations. Two of the most exciting ventures to date are Nonni Day and the publication of “A Journey back to origins: the lives of Italian immigrants through the eyes of their grandchildren” (“Viaggio di Ritorno alle Origini: vite di emigranti italiani attraverso gli occhi dei loro nipoti”).

Associazione i Nonni Board Members lunch at Gasparo Trattoria

Showcasing the lives of Italian immigrants through the lens of youth

The publication of “A Journey Back to Origins” is the stunning culmination of nearly four years of hard work by members of Associazione i Nonni, particularly Mr. Joe Commisso (Ambassador NSW Grandparents Day) and Mr. Antonio Bamonte (OAM), respectively president and vice-president of the Association Grandparents. The publishing project, in partnership with dozens of talented Italian-Australian young people, was completed under the guidance, passion and expertise of editor Prof.ssa Concetta Cirigliano Perna.

The roots of the book go back to 2016, when the Associazione i Nonni held the “A Journey Back to Origins” writing competition. The purpose of the competition was to capture the memories of Italian immigrants, as recounted to their grandchildren. Such narratives are enormously valuable for all sorts of reasons; in the first instance, before the younger generation can write with authority, they need to engage with their grandparents, asking the right questions and listening to the responses carefully in order to get the information on which to base their work; the inter-generational communication involved was a powerful advantage of the competition, regardless of the quality of the written work which was created.

In addition, the stories generated as a result of the competition painted powerful portraits of a bygone age. As authentic information, based on first-hand sources (the lived experience) of grandparents, these stories are a valuable historical resource. An important part of Australia’s varied history, the stories submitted for the competition capture the words, thoughts and actions of a previous generation who sadly will not always be with us.

Too many powerful accounts to be ignored

The response to the 2016 competition was overwhelming, with dozens of entries being submitted. Although judges (with considerable difficulty) managed to find a winner in each category, there remained a large number of high-calibre, compelling stories which deserved wider recognition. It is a selection of these stories which have been put together in an anthology entitled “A Journey back to origins: the lives of Italian immigrants through the eyes of their grandchildren.” The anthology is published in both Italian and English (a bilingual book), in celebration of the key role which the Italian heritage of the writers and grandparents has played in defining the character, content and value of the book. In addition to the written words, vintage photographs play a key role in further illustrating the grandparents’ memories of days gone by.

Book launch at Nonni Day on 20th October

Preceding national grandparents’ day (in NSW this is celebrated on the last Sunday of the month), Associazione i Nonni will be holding their own, special Nonni Day on 20th October. Held at the Club Marconi, it’s an opportunity for more than 400 grandparents, grandchildren and family members to celebrate. The book will be unveiled at this event, adding an additional element to the occasion. It brings to public attention a cornucopia of precious recollections and memories which bring a poignant, human touch to a part of Australian history. A fantastic opportunity for young and old to gather together, Nonni Day is a chance to make irreplaceable memories.

Beloka Water – proud sponsors of Nonni Day

Beloka’s founder and CEO, Joe Commisso, is committed to raising the profile of grandparents and demonstrating their importance to the younger generation. In recognition of this, Beloka Water has got behind Nonni Day, helping to ensure that it’s a resounding success. We hope that Nonni Day, the publication of “A Journey Back to Origins” and the other projects which Associazione i Nonni has planned will help to cement the relationship between the generations and show just how much value the older generation brings.