Our person of the month for October is Maby Palmisano, the president of the association American in Washington, DC. A trained sociologist from Rome, she now works in cooperation and development. Vivacious and capable, she cultivates a network of Italians living in Washington.
Tell us about yourself.
My full name is Maria Bina Palmisano, but my mom nicknamed me Maby (combining the fist letters of Maria and Bina). I am originally from Rome, and the eternal city is in my blood: to me, it is the most beautiful city in the whole world. I love the sun and the sea, they are a source of energy for my soul. The first time I came to the United States was 25 years ago — I arrived in Texas thanks to a scholarship. It was a cultural shock for me: I was a vegetarian in the birthplace of bbq! It was still an amazing experience, and it allowed me to meet the man that later became my now-ex husband. I did everything I could to stay in the US. I pursued a PhD, and the nine months I was allowed to stay quickly became 25 years.
How does Italians in Dc work? How would you describe it?
I became president of Italians in DC in May 2020, during the pandemic. Italians in DC was created in 2010 by a group of young people hoping to stick together and share their Italian culture and American experience. We are open not just to Italians, but to everyone who is curious about our country, our language, our culture, and our hobbies. The organization now boasts around 4000 people, including members from Rome, Milan, and southern Italy, but also Iran, Tunisia, and France. We do many things, for both kids and adults. Kids learn Italian songs and play using our language. Adults share knowledge about Italian literature, movies, and theater. We organize events and performances, we go to museums together, and we play tennis, for example.
How do you maintain Italian traditions abroad?
Italians love to spend time together. Italians in DC gives them a space to meet with each other, chat, make friends, and cultivate connections.
What cannot be exported abroad?
Our sense of community and our need for a sense of belonging.
What is your favorite dish to cook and to eat?
I love to cook. I love to try new things at parties at home and at dinners with friends. I am really good at is preparing rustic pizzas, savory pies, various foams, and pasta, of course. My favorite ingredients are eggplants, tomatoes, figs, almonds, and cheeses: I always have at least one of these on my plate! I also think I make very good tiramisù. What do I love to eat? The three P’s: pane, pasta, and pizza.
What are your plans for Italians in DC for the next season?
It will certainly be different. We are still trying to figure out what we can do, but we will certainly organize web seminars and online meetings. We will also continue to host socially-distanced ParLab and Italian aperitivi.