Talons and Tea Leaves (PoA 6)

Being in a foreign country is amazing. From the sights to the food to the immense challenges of having to learn a whole new place, being away from home opens you up to brand new experiences left and right. While there are many similarities in each culture, there are vast differences that sometimes make you uncomfortable (both in good ways and in bad ways). The key to dealing with being uncomfortable is watching how you react.

A_real_life_Hippogriff_from_Harry_Potter_exists_in_UgandaIn this chapter it’s the first day of school. Harry’s third year classes begin with Divination, a strange class in a strange part of the castle. The students embark on a journey of tea leaves and fortune telling. For some this is very intriguing and real, for others its very “fake news” like. By the end of class Hermione is angry (not believing in any of this nonsense) and Harry is told he will die. The students head to Transfiguration, where Professor McGonagall weighs in on the subject of Harry’s predicted demise and divination as a whole, having very similar thoughts to Hermione’s. The class ends and Ron calls Hermione out on not liking Divination just because she isn’t good at it. After lunch they head down to the forest to meet Hagrid. It’s Hagrid’s first day teaching and he brings out Hippogriffs. Hagrid explains to the class that Hippogriffs are very proud creatures and not to insult them. Harry volunteers to try and gain the Hippogriffs trust and manages to ride the creature for a little while. Soon after every students is given the chance to subdue these creatures and everything goes well until Draco manages to insult one and is attacked. Draco ends up in the hospital wing with some cuts and Hagrid ends up drowning his sorrows and anxiety of being fired with some alcohol.

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The Italian Supreme Court 

Two of my favorite new experiences on my study abroad trip were learning about Italian Criminal Law and taking a tour of the Juvenile Dentition center in Naples. Much like the Hogwarts students, these experiences were different and a bit uncomfortable. Learning from teachers who spoke Italian as their first language and english as their second language made class difficult to understand at times. Many students in my class were completely appalled at the idea of lecturing from power points (which with jet lag and little sleep could be hard to follow along with). Everything was new and different.

We learned the key difference between American Criminal law and Italian criminal law was the end goal. In America punishment is the key. You did something wrong and now you must pay. Whereas in Italy rehabilitation is the key. You did something wrong, we can work together to fix it and give you a new hope in society. Then when we took time to go and tour the juvenile detention center we saw this concept in action.

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View from the top of the Constitutional Court in Rome 

I’ve been to a similar center here in Colorado as part of my American Criminal Law class.  The detention center here was like any other prison. The kids wore uniforms and didn’t have many freedoms. There were opportunities to learn trade skills, but the real goal was for the kids to do their time and learn that what they did was wrong. In the Italian deletion center, the kids wore regular clothes, smoked cigarettes, played basketball and gardened. They had to chose a trade to learn (ceramics, pizza making, baking, nativity scene making, etc.). The goal was to get these kids a second chance when they left.

While the two systems are somewhat alike, the way the kids seem to be treated are very different (from what I’ve experienced). The kids in Italy didn’t seem to be treated like prisoners, but like kids who needed guidance. The directors of the detention center spoke of the children as if they were misled by the greater society and no one else. There was a caring aspect to the directors, a sense that these kids needed their help because maybe their parents weren’t around and their only role models were those already doing criminal acts. In America it feels as if troubled youths are treated as and told that they are just bad people who need to figure out right from wrong and quickly.

As we left either class or the detention center, it was interesting to watch the discussion grow from our experiences. Some were uncomfortable with what they saw, mainly how the directors interacted with the youths and how no one (directors included) wore uniforms. Others seemed to be hit with compassion, and even further, others seemed to not care at all. Those who were uncomfortable with their experiences in Italian Criminal Law were usually much like Hermione or Professor McGonagall or even Draco: they made sure people knew where they stood on the matter. They felt uncomfortable and needed other to know about it. It’s something we all do. When we feel out of sorts we either cope by trying to find like-minded individuals or we ignore how we feel entirely and move on. Rarely do we sit down and try to pinpoint what makes us uncomfortable, where those feelings come from and how to process them next.

This is a key part of being a lawyer though. We have to find a way to look at every side of an issue. We have to be able to rationally look at something, push away our feelings and see every side. Now that’s not to say we can’t have feelings about things. Our gut-feelings are the most important part of intuition and doing what we deem is right, but being able to step out of yourself and see the other side, engage with another part of society or set of ideals… that’s what’s really important. While the Italian goal of rehabilitation seems outlandish against the ideas of American Punishment, I think there are some good facets of believing in the good of others and trying to help them see that good and make it blossom.

Seeing through the eyes of another, being immersed in the culture of another is hard. We are all hardwired to be prideful and ask for others to bow down to our ideals first before we will even consider their ideals (much like a hippogriff) and the second someone insults our ideals, we attack and leave a trail of hurt behind us. It’s not easy to set down that pride and let yourself see another way of doing things, but it’s important in law school and in law. Compassion for others is hard, but it is quintessential and all it takes is seeing the world the way they see it.

Until Next Time,

Mischief Managed

PS: I don’t have any pictures of the dentition center in Naples because they took our phones before going in.