Il primo addio…

Hello from the other siiiiide (a little bit of Adele suits this sad article),

I am the Greek one, the known, the entertaining one that likes to speak about her weekends, Italian food and drinks. This blogging thing is starting to kinda like me…

My last blog was a travel blog, giving you some new information about Brisighella, a small but beautiful city of Italy, just ten minutes away from Faenza. So, I covered the travelling part and I am coming for another time to talk to you about the drama part of the everyday life of a volunteer in Faenza.

Brisighella

Well, we are doing international projects and taking this amazing opportunity that European Union is giving us. Of course, there are a lot of good things to tell about this experience, but there also some bad things and this is the main reason that I am writing this article.

Let’s start from the good parts so we can proceed to the sad and difficult parts…

One of the best things is the contact with the new culture. For me the Italian culture wasn’t so unknown. I was studying Italian Language and Literature back in Greece and I had a basic knowledge of the language, the culture and the Italian lifestyle. In this way, you might never read from me that I have a huge cultural shock or something like that. Also, as the time passes by I am realizing more and more how similar are the Italians with the Greeks. Regarding the lifestyle it is like I am still living in Greece, going out the same amount of time, be socialized and it is not a big deal if I talk with people I don’t know. The only difference is that I am speaking Italian.

Another really interesting fact is the job that I am doing here. It is not a regular work, you don’t feel like you are having a boss upon your head that anytime can start screaming at you. Also, it is pretty cool the fact that as a volunteer there are a lot of things that you can do. I mean, I am a volunteer, if help is needed and I can contribute, I will be there. In this way, the activities that I am choosing are a lot and different also. I am really enjoying this variety of occupations.

But, sadly I have to move one to share with you a really difficult part of the ESC life and in general of the life living away from your home. There are times that you are feeling home-sick and that’s logical. Your friends and your family are away, you are talking with them on phone or Skype but there aren’t next to you when you need a hug. Especially the first days of the arrival in a new country, a new city and society you have this feeling all the time. You are feeling alone…

Here comes the EVS opportunity to shine up your day and put some other volunteers beside you to share this experience and of course these emotions. When you are with people, even unknown at the moment, that you are sharing all these new things; it could make you feel more safe and loved and can help you to overcome a little bit your loneliness.

So, one of these guys, next to my side, sleeping in the next room of mine and sharing the everyday life in work and in the apartment, was Raquel. She was a Spanish, crazy and really interesting girl that we lived together for 2 and a half months. We became friends from the first moment -but no, to be sincere, we needed about a week to be sure-. We used to study together but in the middle of studying we started talking and stopping at midnight. Raquel was the reason that I put apart my fear and stress to talk in Italian and I actually started communicate with the locals. She, Greta -our other flatmate that I am promising that I will write something about her, too- and me had a lot of fun, a bunch of amazing moments and an extraordinary everyday life.

But, in conclusion, and of course the reason that I said that this is one bad and sad parts of the international volunteering experience, the project of Raquel finished and she had to return to Spain. We had a party, an after party and a tearful goodbye session. I still can’t realize that she is gone and I am expecting her to return for a trip in another city of Italy or something like that. In any case, I hate goodbyes, I am really bad at those…

Goodbye -the irony-,

Danai, Greece

La nostra Web Radio!

Carissimi, qui la volontaria italiana di SE.M.I. in Grecia. Quest’oggi voglio raccontare in cosa consista un progetto a cui la mia organizzazione ospitante, You in Europe, ha preso parte e ha reso partecipi anche noi volontari del Corpo Europeo di Solidarietà. Si tratta di una web radio creata per iniziativa di un’organizzazione italiana nell’ambito della Key Action 2, azione del programma Erasmus+ che mira alla cooperazione per l’innovazione e lo scambio di buone pratiche; questa tipologia di progetti è indirizzata a tutte le associazioni e ONG che lavorano all’interno di progetti Erasmus e che vogliano iniziare delle collaborazioni, anche di lungo periodo, con altre organizzazioni europee. È questo il caso del progetto “Broadcasting Europe”, questo il titolo scelto, che coinvolge quattro organizzazioni e le loro web radio. L’idea del progetto “Broadcasting Europe”, nato nel 2018, parte dal desiderio di creare una rete di cooperazione e scambio transnazionale tra diversi enti europei situati in quattro stati: Italia, Grecia, Polonia e Spagna. Lo scopo del progetto, globalmente, è quello di promuovere abilità e conoscenze dei partner coinvolti e metterle in atto attraverso tale rete internazionale, in modo da sviluppare sempre di più la consapevolezza sulle proprie competenze condividendola con altre persone.

Ma a livello pratico, che cos’è una web radio, e come funziona? All’inizio, non appena i nostri coordinatori e il nostro mentore hanno iniziato a parlarci di questo progetto, non ci è stato chiaro sin da subito come potessimo fare per mandare in onda il nostro programma, dove registrarlo e come farlo. Poco a poco però ogni cosa è apparsa più chiara, quando ci è stata mostrata l’apparecchiatura che sarebbe servita al nostro scopo. Tutto ciò di cui si ha bisogno è un mixer a cui vanno collegati un microfono, delle cuffie e delle casse, per poi collegare a sua volta il mixer ad un computer, tramite il quale verrà mandata in onda la puntata radio, o registrata e poi caricata sul sito dedicato. Broadcasting Europe si serve infatti di un sito internet, Spreaker (https://www.spreaker.com/), dove ogni partecipante può pubblicare le puntate del proprio programma, che rimangono poi visibili e ascoltabili da tutti.

In questo modo è quindi iniziata anche la nostra collaborazione con questo progetto, e insieme agli altri volontari ESC con cui sto condividendo questa esperienza abbiamo iniziato a pensare a un titolo per il nostro programma, i contenuti, come lo avremmo strutturato e via dicendo. Data le nostre diverse provenienze e nazionalità, ci piaceva l’idea di trovare un punto d’incontro tra i nostri paesi, che ci permettesse di aprire dei confronti e scoprire in ogni puntata qualcosa di nuovo riguardante Italia, Polonia, Portogallo e successivamente, all’arrivo del quarto volontario, Spagna. Il risultato finale delle nostre riflessioni è stato “The Random Show”, un programma casuale, senza un tema fisso ma con un argomento diverso in ogni puntata, in cui ognuno di noi avrebbe raccontato le proprie tradizioni, usanze e costumi, e in questo modo tutti avremmo potuto sentirci inclusi nella discussione e avremmo potuto portare le nostre opinioni e idee. Gli argomenti trattati sono stati i più variegati, dal cibo alle vacanze, dal cinema al Natale, il tutto condito da canzoni sempre legate al tema della puntata.
Random Show

Abbiamo quindi caricato sul sito web la prima puntata all’inizio del mese di agosto, con l’aiuto indispensabile del nostro mentore, membro dell’associazione You in Europe, il quale tra noi è l’unica persona ad essere in grado di utilizzare l’apparecchiatura necessaria. Abbiamo stabilito che avremmo registrato gli episodi ogni due settimane, per un totale di due al mese. Durante la prima registrazione l’imbarazzo e l’agitazione ci hanno accompagnati, ma poco a poco abbiamo preso familiarità con questo tipo di lavoro e adesso è diventato un gioco in cui ci divertiamo e riusciamo davvero a parlare delle nostre diverse culture in un clima informale ma al contempo con la consapevolezza di star contribuendo ad un progetto europeo molto più grande. Per ascoltare l’ultimo episodio dedicato alle tradizioni natalizie e per trovare tutte le puntate del programma seguite questo indirizzo: https://www.spreaker.com/user/broadcastingeurope/the-random-show-episode-8
Insieme a You in Europe abbiamo poi organizzato una festa nella piazza principale di Nea Moudania, il paesino dove sto svolgendo il volontariato, per promuovere non solo il nostro show ma tutto il progetto della web radio. Durante la serata abbiamo presentato il nostro lavoro, preparato e offerto cibo tipico dei nostri paesi a tutte le persone che si erano riunite in piazza e attraverso musica e balli abbiamo provato a promuovere questo progetto.
WEB Radio Party
E per l’occasione abbiamo anche stampato delle magliette con il logo della nostra radio:
WEB Radio Party
Da sinistra: Igor, il nostro mentore e Bartek, entrambi polacchi, Federica, ovvero l’autrice di questo articolo che state leggendo, Sofia dal Portogallo e Jorge dalla Spagna.

Per concludere, quindi, creare una web radio non è difficile, tutto ciò di cui avete bisogno è la giusta strumentazione! Vi saluto con l’augurio di aver reso l’idea di cosa sia una web radio e con l’invito ad ascoltare il nostro show in onda ogni due settimane. Stay tuned!

A presto,
Federica

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

The European Parliament is an important forum for political debate and decision-making at the EU level. The Members of the European Parliament are directly elected by voters in all Member States to represent people’s interests with regard to EU law-making and to make sure other EU institutions are working democratically. The Parliament represents the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India) and the largest trans-national democratic electorate in the world. The President of the European Parliament (Parliament’s speaker) is David Sassoli (elected in July 2019).

European Parliament in Strasbourg

The Committees of the European Parliament

In order to do the preparatory work for Parliament’s plenary sittings, the Members are divided up among a number of specialised standing committees. There are 20 parliamentary committees that meet once or twice a month in Brussels and whose debates are held in public.

Languages, translation and interpretation

Speakers in the European Parliament are entitled to speak in any of the 24 official languages of the European Union. Simultaneous interpreting is offered in all plenary sessions, and all final texts of legislation are translated. With twenty-four languages, the European Parliament is the most multilingual parliament in the world and the biggest employer of interpreters in the world. Citizens may also address the Parliament in Basque, Catalan/Valencian and Galician.

Plenary

Plenary sittings are chaired by the President of the European Parliament. The President of the European Parliament is assisted in this task by the 14 vice-presidents, who can take over the chair. The President opens the sitting, sometimes with a tribute or a speech on a current topic. Parliament is in fact constantly concerned to respond to the latest developments in any major issue and has no hesitation in changing its agenda in order to call on the Union to act. The President’s influence can be decisive in this respect.

European Parliament 2019

References

About Parliament. European Parliament, web: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/about-parliament/en (page visited on 09/12/2019)

Wikipedia, European Parliament, web: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Parliament (page visited on 09/12/2019)

Brisighella sei bella!

Ciao carissimi lettori,

We are here to entertain you for another time! Well, let’s see want is going on this week. We don’t have a lot of changes, the everyday life goes on pretty smoothly and I am working in different things.

As you can easily understand in this point, I am usually talking about my weekends so I can describe better the life in Faenza. The weekends I am going out, I am travelling and actually enjoying some alone time.

Something like that happened this weekend, too. Friday night we had our traditional dinner with pizza and wine, as we do every Friday. Thankfully, we found a cheep pizza place and also we don’t have preferences in our wine, so we don’t spent a lot of money every time. The difference of the past Friday with the previous ones is that finally I convinced the others to go and dance a little bit. So we did! Faenza is small -fact that I am repeating in every blog- but it has things to do and places to go out and also has a place that you can go and dance until the morning. After some hours, at 4.00 o’clock in the morning we returned home with my Lithuanian and blond friend to sleep until the next evening -because is Saturday and I don’t care if I am waking up late.

Saturday wasn’t a lot fun and it was certainly chill. I had a breakfast with my roommate and then with chilled all day in the apartment watching Netflix and eating. It is not ”party hard” kind of weekend, but I was really needed to stay in my warm couch all day and do nothing. I love myself, I have to respect its needs.

Sunday on the other hand was pretty interesting. We planned a small visit to Brisighella, a picturesque, tiny city near by. We spent only 10 minutes in the train and we were there, somewhere between 21th Century and Medieval Times.

Brisighella has the tittle of the most beautiful small city in Italy and I can’t give them wrong. Within 5 minutes walk from the station we were in the city center, which was full of little shops and restaurants. It is easy to notice from the first minute in this city the beautiful towers around its hills. Using the stairs we got to one of them and after 10 minutes we got to the highest point. The view from up there is certainly breathtaking and combined with the warm and nude colors of Autumn it was one of the best things I saw lately.

After a small walk upon the hills and enjoying the view, we decided to take a break and something traditional. As you may know one of the traditional dishes of Emilia Romagna is the ”piadina”. It is a kind of wrap, but a different one depending the area, stuffed with whatever you want. It is delicious, I love it, I ate it in 5 minutes.

So, that was it for today, I don’t have anything else to describe you.

Until the next time, have fun and eat italian food..

Danai, Greece

Alla scoperta di Thessaloniki

Ciao a tutti, eccomi di nuovo per darvi un assaggio della mia esperienza di volontariato in Grecia come volontaria italiana di SE.M.I. Oggi voglio raccontarvi di un bellissimo fine settimana che ho trascorso in compagnia di altre volontarie alla scoperta di Thessaloniki (Salonicco in italiano), seconda città della Grecia dopo Atene.

Avevo già visitato la città durante l’estate, dato che Salonicco dista circa 50 chilometri da Nea Moudania, paesino dove sto svolgendo la mia attività di volontariato, ma non approfonditamente, a causa del caldo soffocante che avvolgeva l’aria e che non mi ha permesso di godere appieno di quella gita fuori porta. Da pochi mesi però due nuove ragazze sono arrivate in città, inserendosi in un altro progetto coordinato dalla mia organizzazione ospitante (You in Europe), così, spinta dalla voglia di stringere nuove amicizie e dall’abbassarsi, almeno parziale, delle temperature, ho deciso di incontrare le ragazze ed esplorare insieme la città.
Il risultato è stato strabiliante: non solo abbiamo scoperto i punti più interessanti del centro, ma ci siamo divertite tantissimo.

Dopo essere riuscita a superare i vari ostacoli posti dal trasporto pubblico greco (lungi da me l’essere polemica, soprattutto dopo la scuola di vita rappresentata da Trenitalia; c’è però bisogno di armarsi di molta pazienza per intraprendere un viaggio, sebbene breve, a bordo di autobus e altri mezzi in Grecia) sono finalmente riuscita a raggiungere la casa delle ragazze, e dopo un’intensa sessione di chiacchiere davanti a un piatto di pasta, siamo uscite per proseguire la serata con una birra. Camminando per il centro con le luci della sera, ci siamo imbattute in un quartiere pieno di giovani e di locali molto carini, ed è lì che abbiamo scelto di fermarci per un po’; un paio d’ore e di bevande dopo abbiamo continuato la nostra passeggiata notturna fino a tornare a casa, pronte per riprendere la mattina seguente.

Thessaloniki di sera

L’indomani abbiamo deciso di inaugurare la giornata con del buon caffè e un classico brunch domenicale in un bar molto ricercato: nel bel mezzo di questo locale infatti sorgeva un albero riccamente decorato e colorato, ma non solo, perché nella sala all’interno era stato creato uno spazio per l’esposizione e la vendita di vestiti. Originale, no? Abbiamo in seguito dedicato il pomeriggio e la serata alla visita dei punti più importanti della città, come la Torre Bianca, l’Arco di Galerio, piazza Aristotelus e il lungo mare con il porto.
Thessaloniki Torre BiancaThessaloniki

La giornata è letteralmente volata, sebbene non avessimo intrapreso nessuna particolare o speciale attività, ma semplicemente il potersi godere la città passeggiando e confrontandoci sulle nostre esperienze di volontariato ha fatto sì che ogni momento fosse piacevole e rilassato. Personalmente devo ammettere che Salonicco non rientra nella lista delle mie città preferite da un punto di vista architettonico e storico, ma nonostante ciò nasconde in sé degli angolini davvero belli e offre la possibilità di conoscere molte persone grazie alla rete degli studenti universitari e le numerose iniziative culturali come festival cinematografici, concerti e mostre.

La serata domenicale si è poi conclusa con un immancabile pita gyros, famoso panino riempito con carne, verdura e patate e mangiato in tutta la Grecia. Ancora una volta il cibo rappresenta la prima fonte di pura felicità! A quel punto mi sentivo decisamente ricaricata e pronta a tornare alla quotidianità e ricominciare la settimana, consapevole di aver conosciuto due ragazze aperte e con la mia stessa voglia di passare dei bei momenti in compagnia a chiacchierare e scherzare, ma anche a riflettere sul nostro lavoro e la nostra scelta di partire per quest’esperienza all’estero.

Vi ringrazio ancora una volta per aver dedicato del tempo alla lettura, a presto con la prossima avventura!

Sempre da Nea Moudania,


Federica

European Union: Agriculture

Vibrant rural areas and quality agricultural products

World food production needs to double by 2050 to cater for population growth and evolving food habits. It faces the impacts of climate change on biodiversity, soil and water quality, and the demands of the global marketplace.

EU farm policy has changed considerably in recent decades to help farmers face these challenges and respond to peoples’ changing attitudes and expectations. EU agricultural policy covers a wide range of areas, including food quality, traceability, trade and promotion of EU farm products. The EU financially supports its farmers and encourages sustainable and eco-friendly practices, while also investing in the development of rural areas.

EU institutions collaborate on food and farming policy-making, implementing, monitoring and evaluating it. National and local authorities implement the laws agreed at EU level. Through the EU budget, funds are made available to member states in accordance to rules set at EU level. The EU also monitors how laws are applied, how effective they are, and coordinates amendments.

Agriculture and food related industries and services provide over 44 million jobs in the EU, including regular work for 20 million people within the agricultural sector itself. Thanks to its varied climate, fertile soil, the technical skills of its farmers and the quality of its products, the EU is one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of agricultural products.

Agriculture and rural development in EU: Rural development 2014-2020

The EU’s rural development policy helps the rural areas of the EU to meet the wide range of economic, environmental and social challenges of the 21st century. Frequently called “the second pillar” of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), it complements the system of direct payments to farmers and measures to manage agricultural markets (the so-called “first pillar”).

There are 118 different rural development programmes (RDP) in the 28 Member States for this period, with 20 single national programmes and 8 Member States opting to have two or more (regional) programmes.

EU framework for rural development programmes

Member States and regions draw up their rural development programmes based on the needs of their territories and addressing at least four of the following six common EU priorities:

* Fostering knowledge transfer and innovation in agriculture, forestry and rural areas

* Enhancing the viability and competitiveness of all types of agriculture, and promoting innovative farm technologies and sustainable forest management

* Promoting food chain organisation, animal welfare and risk management in agriculture

* Restoring, preserving and enhancing ecosystems related to agriculture and forestry

* Promoting resource efficiency and supporting the shift toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy in the agriculture, food and forestry sectors

* Promoting social inclusion, poverty reduction and economic development in rural areas

Source: Official website of the European Union

Aperitivo con altri volontari…

Ciao carissimi lettori,

and continuing in English as usual…

So, here I am, the Greek volunteer, to entertain you and keep you posted for another time. The life here in the beautiful and small Faenza goes on with calm and happiness. I am really appreciating that I am working for an organization (SE.M.I association) that keeps me motivated, find all the time new things to occupy me and I am never bored.

I mean, I was used to work a lot back in Greece and there was a time last year that I was doing three different works in the same time and I managed to handle it and enjoy it in the same moment. As you could understand in the start here I was afraid that I might be bored. A job with specific working hours and not many to be sincere, in an office like a normal human being and without the necessity to run like crazy all day, all of these things made me wonder if I could managed them. I know that sounds crazy but I was used to it, to run like hell and change two jobs everyday, then come back to my apartment with my energy levels in the lowest possible point.

Likely, the situation here is not like that. Even though, I work in an office the most of the time and I have specific work hours, I am occupied the most of the time. The association finds new things for me to do everyday and I feel like they understood me from the first moment, I am an active and a little workaholic person, I am finding new activities to do all the time.

Another thing that I am, is a communicative person. I mean, I have too my personal daily limits in communication, but they are pretty high. I love communicating and meeting people for the first time. And for another time, SE.M.I didn’t let me down…

I am almost two months in Italy now and I socializing with the other volunteers that we work together and also with some Italians that I met through my activities. The things is… I wanted more. One part of the ESC experience is travelling all year, explore the new country that you are currently living. So if you combine these two you can easily understand that I want to meet volunteers for other cities in Italy. And the organization saw that need of mine, but need of other volunteers too.

Our coordinator organized an aperitivo in a city near to Faenza, Forli. Forli has a big team of volunteers and also we met other three guys from Cesena. All together, a team close to 25 people, we managed to find a table in a place a little away from the station, but really nice.

The majority of the volunteers were Spanish or at least spoke the language because they were from Ecuador or Argentina. At this point I have to note that Spanish people in Italy are sooooooo many. We have two in our team too, but in Forli there were too many. Also, you have to know that I love Spanish people. When you do programs like SVE you are dealing also with cultural gaps and differences, which is truly interesting if you are asking me, but also can create problems. To conclude, with Spanish people I feel really close and I can communicate easily, they are cool and fun in every situation, I am enjoying their company and I made already a lot of Spanish friends.

Back to the aperitivo after a small pause, it was amazing knowing all these new people from all around the world. We shared our stories, we talked about our jobs in Italy, our experiences here and of course we exchanged number so we could meet again. As the true face of a party animal, I may be in Forli this weekend to party with them to an event that they recommended me.

Pretty much that’s it for this week, I think I shared enough with you my lucky readers. I think that there is no need to highlight that the ESC experience is the best and you certainly have to try it.

Arrivederci,

Danai, Greece

European Union

This is the new column to give information about European Union.

The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of 28 member states. Its combined area is quite big and an estimated total population of about 513 million.

The EU has developed an internal single market through a standardised system of laws that apply in all member states in those matters, and only those matters, where members have agreed to act as one. EU policies aim to ensure the free movement of people, goods, services and capital within the internal market, enact legislation in justice and home affairs and maintain common policies on trade, agriculture, fisheries and regional development.

For travel within the Schengen Area, passport controls have been abolished. A monetary union was established in 1999 and came into full force in 2002 and is composed of 19 EU member states which use the euro currency.

The EU and European citizenship were established when the Maastricht Treaty came into force in 1993. The EU traces its origins to the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) and the European Economic Community (EEC), established, respectively, by the 1951 Treaty of Paris and 1957 Treaty of Rome.

The original members of what came to be known as the European Communities were the Inner Six: Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and West Germany.

The Communities and their successors have grown in size by the accession of new member states and in power by the addition of policy areas to their remit. The latest major amendment to the constitutional basis of the EU, the Treaty of Lisbon, came into force in 2009. No member state has left the EU or its antecedent organisations (Greenland, an autonomous territory within Denmark, left the Communities in 1985). The United Kingdom signified its intention to leave after a membership referendum in June 2016 and is negotiating its withdrawal. The United Kingdom and its independent territories are scheduled to leave the European Union by 31 January 2020.

Containing 7.3% of the world population, the EU in 2017 generated a nominal gross domestic product (GDP) of 19.670 trillion US dollars. Additionally, all 28 EU countries have a very high Human Development Index, according to the United Nations Development Programme. In 2012, the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Through the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the EU has developed a role in external relations and defence. The union maintains permanent diplomatic missions throughout the world and represents itself at the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the G7 and the G20. Because of its global influence, the European Union was described in 2006 as an emerging superpower.

Source: Wikipedia, “European Union” (page visited on 18/11/2019)

LET’S TALK ABOUT LITERATURE

So this is my last text like that here and I decided to dedicate it to my one of my big passions, namely to the literature. This was also one of the reasons why I decided to study French Language and Literature in the University of Tartu. These were the best years of my life! I really enjoyed being a student. Now, after I’ve graduated, I try to continue using critical thinking while reading books, without loosing the ability to enjoy the story.

I’ve read a lot of books in my life and some novels have left a deep impression on me. So this time I’ve decided to talk about some of my favourite books and/or writers.

Firstly, one of my absolute favourite authors is Sir Terry Pratchett. I love his Discworld series (Serie del Mondo Disco). All the activities take place on a flat, circular, disc-shaped world which sits on the back of four big elephants, which in their turn stand on the carapace of a giant turtle. Some popular characters who appear in different books, are for example gods, a failed wizard and the DEATH.

I really like his writing style. Pratchett’s books are very funny and enjoyable to read, especially because he treats in a comical and satirical way real world issues and problems. You can also find references about different religions. For example the characters called The Four Horsemen of the Apocralypse are described in the last book of the New Testament (The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse). Also, The myth of a giant turtle/tortoise supporting the world occurs in Hindu, in Chinese and in Native American mythology.

My another favourite book from Russian literature is “The Master and Margarita” (Il maestro e Margherita) by Mikhail Bulgakov. He imagines very well the Russian/Soviet society of that time. At first sight, the text seemed too weird and confusing to me. But the more I read the more interesting it seemed. Finally I got used to the characters like the giant talking cat and the devil Woland, who had come to Moscow, and all the weird things that happen. This book has been considered as one of the best novels of the 20th century. I really enjoyed it and I would recommend reading it for those who haven’t done it yet.

The next book series doesn’t need a long introduction, I guess. I really like “Harry Potter by British author J. K. Rowling. In my mind, it’s absolutely amazing how she has described all the characters, all the places and all the mystical events.

A German-speaking Bohemian author who I quite like is Franz Kafka. I have read his books called “The Castle” (Il castello) and “The Trial” (Il processo). At the beginning, his writing style seemed very weird and it was very hard to understand what he wanted to say. While analysing the text a bit more closely, I found the books actually quite interesting. The main characters of both of the books have to deal with ignorance. There are events and circumstances that don’t depend on them.

In “The Trial”, the main character called Josef K. is unexpectedly arrested one morning. Nobody never explains him what he had done wrong (if he had done anything wrong at all), he only has to go to the court. Even the lawyer doesn’t seem to have any intention to help Josef K.

In “The Castle”, the main character is called simply K. He arrives to a village where he should have had a job. it’s impossible to speak to an official named Klamm. K tries to go to the castle to ask for any information, but he fails.

Another great book that I enjoyed a lot is “The picture of Dorian Gray” (Il ritratto di Dorian Gray) by Oscar Wilde. It’s a great story about double life, supernatural events that reflect the reality. In Gothic fiction, that this book also represents, the paintings have often a sinister role. In this book, Dorian Gray stays young and beautiful while the painting of him becomes more and more ugly and finally it’s so disgusting for Dorian himself that he hides it. Although “The Picture of Dorian Gray” might be a bit terrifying, I believe it’s still worth reading.

Concerning Italian literature, I really love “The Divine Comedy” (La Comedìa/Divina Commedia) by Dante Alighieri. I have read only the first part (Inferno). Other two parts include Purgatorio and Paradiso. It’s a poem where ‘sweet new style’ (Dolce Stil Novo) was used for the first time. It represents the vision of the afterlife through the medieval world-view that had been developed by the 14th century in the Western Church. In teh forst part, the main character travels with Virgil throught the underworld.

Another book from the Russian literature that I really like is “The Idiot” (L’idiota) by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I should read it more attentively myself, but I still believe it’s a great book. It’s a story about social issues and norms in Russia that cause a lot of problems for the main character called Prince Lev Nikolayevich Myshkin who has returned to his homeland from abroad and who is not able to integrate to this society any more.

As last recommendations, I decided to choose something also from the French literature. The first book, that is quite difficult to read, but that is still an amazing piece of work, is “Nausea” (La nausea) by Jean-Paul Sartre. The protagonist, Antoine Roquentin, tries to finish one of his researches, but he often feels that the world is weird and absurd that evokes him a sense of nausea. The only way how he can deal with it, is music. Sartre’s philosophical approach and existentialist concept makes it a bit difficult to read, but it’s still very interesting novel.

And the final one… I’m a huge fan of Molière, a 17th century playwright, actor and poet. Strongly influenced by italian commedia dell’arte, his comedies treat social issues in a satirical way. Although commedia dell’arte was based on improvisation, Molière’s early comedies were based on its scenarios, but with scripted dialogue and not improvised. Some of his plays I really like are: “The Imaginary Invalid” (Il malato immaginario), “Tartuffe”/“The Impostor”/“The Hypocrite” (Il Tartuffo), “The Ridiculous Précieuses”/”The Affected Ladies” (Le preziose ridicole).

A French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes has said: “The reading of all good books is like conversation with the finest (people) of the past centuries.” In my mind, reading is fun, educative and a perfect leisure time activity. So I would like to invite everyone to read books and to think about what the writers have to say.

Tramonta già il sole su Nea Moudania… oppure no?

Carissimi, eccomi di nuovo a scrivere della mia esperienza come volontaria italiana in Grecia. In questo articolo voglio concentrarmi su quelle che sono state le mie sensazioni e riflessioni riguardanti il progetto e la mia vita qui man mano che il tempo scorreva durante i mesi di agosto e settembre, alcune positive ma alcune anche negative, perché un’esperienza di volontariato all’estero non è tutta rose e fiori, e voglio condividere quello che ho vissuto sperando possa essere utile per chi deve ancora partire o per chi, magari, ha attraversato la medesima fase e ha bisogno di ritrovarsi.

Iniziamo dunque. I primi due mesi trascorsi a Nea Moudania, paesino di mare nella penisola Halkidiki, sono stati molto intensi e movimentati, poiché You in Europe, organizzazione presso cui sto svolgendo il volontariato, ha ospitato due scambi giovanili (uno youth exchange di una settimana a giugno e un ESC di un mese a luglio), ma una volta terminate queste attività e dopo che i ragazzi con cui avevamo condiviso l’esperienza erano tornati ai loro tetti natii, ho avuto veramente modo di capire le dinamiche del mio progetto e come mi ci stavo inserendo, sia da un punto di vista pratico che emotivo. Procederò con ordine, raccontando prima di tutto il mese di agosto, che è stato un mese pieno di domande e di dubbi su cosa stessi facendo, probabilmente perché è stato il primo momento in cui mi sono trovata da sola con i miei pensieri, senza mille impegni o persone da vedere ed eventi da organizzare.
Le attività in cui ero impegnata, insieme agli altri due volontari del progetto, consistevano ora principalmente nel lavoro mattutino presso i due centri ricreativi dove ci eravamo inseriti sin dall’inizio del volontariato, e in una riunione settimanale insieme ai responsabili dell’associazione per riportare l’andamento delle attività. Il resto del tempo era praticamente tutto libero, e sebbene il lavoro nei centri procedesse molto bene, questo è stato un elemento che mi ha portata più volte a domandarmi “cosa sto facendo qui?”. Qualcuno, tra chi leggerà queste righe, potrà pensare che sia matta: lavorare quattro ore al giorno per poi spaparanzarsi al sole fino al tramonto è stato motivo di crisi esistenziale? Potrebbe sembrare assurdo, eppure.
Come ho scritto, le attività all’interno dei centri ricreativi stavano procedendo nel migliore dei modi: stavo portando avanti un corso di italiano per i bambini delle elementari, e un corso di yoga per il gruppo di adulti con disabilità. Entrambi questi gruppi mi avevano accolta a braccia aperte ed ero in grado di lavorare insieme a loro nonostante la barriera linguistica del greco in maniera sorprendente. Mi rendevo quindi conto dei punti di forza di questo progetto e dell’impatto positivo che la mia presenza stava avendo sulla comunità locale, e questa energia positiva rimbalzava anche su di me, facendomi sentire utile per il ruolo che svolgevo, pur non essendo una professionista o esperta.
I dubbi che mi hanno assalita riguardavano il resto della giornata, quando non erano presenti attività definite né un orario serrato, momenti in cui pensavo se ciò che stavo facendo fosse abbastanza, se mi soddisfacesse davvero, o se fosse giusto per me. Il fatto di poter godere della spiaggia dopo il lavoro era sicuramente piacevole, ma continuavo a domandarmi quando o se avremmo iniziato seriamente con altre attività.

Posso affermare quindi che, nonostante riuscissi a cogliere la validità del progetto di volontariato, al contempo mi domandavo se ciò che mi veniva offerto fosse quello di cui avevo davvero bisogno per sentirmi soddisfatta del lavoro e se bastasse per trovare un senso nell’aver intrapreso la scelta di restare un anno all’estero. Credo che ogni progetto abbia le proprie criticità, e che non esistano progetti perfetti o che vadano incontro alle necessità di ogni volontario, così come possono sorgere dei dubbi in qualsiasi lavoro una persona stia svolgendo, e questa consapevolezza mi ha aiutata a superare i momenti più duri e a ridimensionare ciò che stavo attraversando, considerandolo normale e umano.
Tali pensieri ed emozioni mi hanno accompagnata fino al mese di settembre, quando qualcosa ha iniziato a cambiare: innanzitutto, l’arrivo di un nuovo volontario che veniva ad aggiungersi al nostro gruppo ha sicuramente movimentato la situazione; il nostro progetto era infatti stato scritto per quattro persone, e You in Europe è riuscita a trovare il partecipante che mancava solo alla fine dell’estate.
In secondo luogo, con la riapertura delle scuole pubbliche e delle attività sportive anche il nostro orario lavorativo ha subito dei cambiamenti: abbiamo infatti iniziato a lavorare nelle ore pomeridiane nei centri ricreativi, e un’ulteriore opportunità si è aperta per noi che abbiamo infatti potuto iniziare a dare una mano agli allenatori delle squadre di pallavolo del paese, supportando le loro attività con bambini e ragazzi in palestra. L’avvio di queste nuove attività mi hanno quindi ulteriormente aiutata a ricominciare a sperare per il meglio e a ritrovare un po’ di motivazione per il mio volontariato.

Per concludere vorrei quindi dire che credo sia normale avere dubbi e che sollevare delle criticità può portare al miglioramento delle scelte che si intraprendono, soprattutto se di lungo periodo e lontano dalle persone care. Anche aver attraversato questa fase critica mi ha aiutata ad acquisire più consapevolezza in me stessa e nelle persone che mi circondano, e sono convinta che sia importante fare tesoro dei momenti negativi e come siamo in grado di superarli, poiché spesso ci possono insegnare molto di più delle esperienze positive. Vorrei inoltre aggiungere che i dubbi su alcuni aspetti del progetto e le domande interiori riguardanti questa mia scelta non sono spariti con un colpo di bacchetta, né la mia routine, posso dire abbastanza tranquilla, è cambiata radicalmente; ho però cercato giorno dopo giorno di gestire i miei sentimenti e vedere il lato positivo della situazione, provando davvero ad imparare da ogni cosa, anziché cercare una via d’uscita “facile” e abbandonare tutto.

Grazie per aver dedicato del tempo alla lettura di questo articolo, a prestissimo da Nea Moudania!

Federica