It's been said that Brooklyn is the world, but my business is to export Brooklyn to the world. So, I wondered how to deliver to Italy. Made in Brooklyn Tours already reaches English speaking visitors and is even featured in guidebooks sold in Germany and Denmark where English is widely spoken. But I thought Italy, where English is not so common, would be a fun challenge.
Something about me. I'm Brooklyn born, but my parents are from Italy and I'm actually a dual citizen. I've been to Italy more times than any other country outside the USA and am still in touch with my family there. I was raised American - my name is Dominick, not Domenico - and I wasn't taught to speak Italian. So, I teach myself daily with the popular app, Duolingo. Most importantly, I know that Italians love America and especially Brooklyn.
I knew I couldn't do this alone, but I'd have a better shot of crossing the Atlantic with help from an Italian-American organization. Good thing there are many in New York due to the waves of Italian immigrants that arrived here before and after WWII. I needed to find just one that had an ongoing cultural exchange program.
I began by searching for and querying organizations in New York State, but outside of NYC. Niente. I then did the same for ones based in New York City, but not in Brooklyn. Still no dice. Finalmente, I looked in my own backyard, but turned up empty. I grew more and more disappointed. Sure. I have a hard head, a "testa dura," but enough's enough already! Basta! It was a bridge too far. Time to move on.
Then one day late last year, I received a Facebook message from a local business with a Tokyo branch that wanted to talk about partnering. They wanted to discuss selling my tours to Japanese visitors! If Italy was too far, I was going to need a friggin' rocketship to reach Japan! The only Japanese I know are the first three numbers I shouted out punching air in that grueling Shotokan karate class I took ages ago. And second, the Japanese "alphabet" has several THOUSAND characters! In 2018, Made in Brooklyn Tours was the cover story for one of the most widely circulated Japanese language newspapers in NYC. Virtually no Japanese speakers booked tickets to my tours since that piece. It wasn't going to be enough to like Subaru, Citizen and UNIQLO.
Still, I need to keep an open mind. Open to any non-English speaking tourists regardless of where they're from. At first, I asked a question that I thought I already knew the answer to: Italy. But to learn, I needed to remove my bias. I did. I have a new partner now - with an interpreter and a Japanese language page. Yes, Made in Brooklyn Tours is now available to Japanese speaking visitors. Brooklyn, my world, just got bigger...