The integration of 'the others' then and now

We can easily describe Venice as the original cultural melting pot, the New York of the 1600s, the world in one city. A place where cultures meet and learn from each other from the Serenissima time until today.

'Venice, the home of the Other' is a historical guided tour on the integration of migrants through work and entrepreneurship in Venice during history and in modern times. The Human Safety Net has supported the tour and has our Home in the Procuratie Vecchie as the final stop.

Throughout history, Venice and the Venetian Republic hosted different people and ethnicities with essentially commercial and practical intentions. Still, they became an indispensable part of the Venetian living body. Because with the goods and the gold came the people, and with the people came food, new words, knowledge, and art. They were making Venice richer and more diverse. 

From the Dalmatians, the inhabitants of the Dalmatian hinterland, the Greeks, the Turks, the Albanians, the Serbs, the Jewish people, and the Arabs, Venetians borrowed words, spices, tools, knowledge, crafts and art. These people had their streets, neighbourhoods, factories, warehouses, and shops, making them fully integrated into the society of the Serenissima. 
'Venice, the home of the other' guides the visitors through the historical locations where migrants practised their crafts inside the city. Still, it also shows modern examples of work integration, like the glass shop of Moulaye Niang, called Muranero. After his studies in Paris, this Senegalese expatriate came to Venice to research glassmaking under the Venetian master Pino Signoretto. Muranero decided to stay in Venice and open his glass shop, giving a robust African flavour to his creations and thus bringing two very distant worlds close by. 

Hamed Ahmadi's story is a bit different. He came to Venice from Afghanistan as a student around 2006 to showcase some of his works at the Venetian Film Festival. He asked for political asylum because he could not return to his home country due to his artistic activism. He spent a few years in a facility near Venice and met numerous refugees from all over the world. These people gathered every Sunday to cook their homeland's food, and someone else cooked every week. From this informal gastro melting pot, Hamed found a kebab shop that was closing and opened the food shop Orient Experience, which today operates in three locations and gives work to numerous refugees in Venice. 

The Serenissima from a few centuries ago and Venice can now teach us a few things, but most important is that through work and entrepreneurship, we can make everyone feel welcome.