Quarantine diaries: What to watch now?

And the ”Quarantine diaries” project continues…

Last week I wrote about ”What to do” during this lock-down and I added to each particular activity a chilling atmosphere and a slower way to live your everyday life inside the house. Today, first I forgot that I have to write a blog- sorry, I’m so influenced from the chill way to live- and then I couldn’t find a subject. Finally, it came to me… What I do like a boss? What am I good at?

The answer is easy, I’m really good at watching movies, series, documentaries, all kinds of stuff that you can take the opportunity of the lock-down and watch now that you have plenty of time. So, for this week I decided to recommend you some TV series that you can start watching during this quarantine and who knows (?) maybe you’ll manage to finish them until the summer that maybe we’ll be out again.

*For the story, I decided to share with you some series and not movies simply because I prefer them. Usually I’m tired to stay and watch a whole movie and I’m falling asleep at the middle of it.

  1. When They See Us” (2019)

One of my personal favorites of all times. ”When They See Us” it’s a Netflix production -even though usually I don’t like Netflix productions- and it’s an American drama mini-series based on a true story.  It is based on events of the 1989 ”Central Park jogger case” and explores the lives and families of the five male suspects who were falsely accused then prosecuted on charges related to the rape and assault of a woman in Central Park, New York City. The five suspects were children of color that were wrongfully accused for a crime that they never did. The TV series is following the trials and the stories of each particular protagonist and it successfully makes you a part of the events. The ’80s atmosphere, the discrimination of people in color and the poverty of the American society of these times are visible and well displayed.

P.S: Grab some tissues if you easily get emotional and watch this masterpiece ASAP…

2. ”This is Us” (2016-…)

Ready for some family time? ”This is Us” it’s a diversity series even for its category, it’s a drama/ comedy family series. How is it possible, right? The story follows three siblings (known as the ”Big Three”), two brothers and one sister, all born in the same day. One of the most interesting parts of the series is the changing of the timeline once in a while; you see the protagonists in various ages and aspects of their lives. Each one of them has its own problems, joys and obstacles to overcome, but they are all connected with a family drama that follows them the most of their lives. The variety of the protagonists and the diversity of each particular life and story keeps your interest in high levels in every episode.

P.S: In this series you’ll find the best father figure ever played in TV. I love him!

3. ”Shameless” (2011-…)

**Providing this last -for today- TV series I wanted to highlight the difference between ”This is Us” and ”Shameless” and it has to do with the father figures. On the first one you see an emotional father figure, a made for family guy that loves his wife and its perfect in its own, realistic and particular way that makes you fall in love with him instantly. But in ”Shameless” you have a totally different person…

The series depicts the poor, dysfunctional family of Frank Gallagher, a single father raising six children. He spends his days drunk or in search of misadventures, and his children learn to take care of themselves. The show’s producers sought to distinguish this production from previous American working-class shows by highlighting how Frank’s alcoholism affects his family. Through the season of the series you’ll see the children growing up and changing while they’re becoming more responsible than their own father or sometimes irresponsible throwing the blame to the difficulty growing up in this family.

P.S: It might seems depressing as a concept, but the american black comedy atmosphere that follows the series is making everything more entertaining and realistic.

So, that’s it for this week, I might share with some more next week if I find a difficulty thinking of a different subject.

Danai, Greece

“La percezione dell’altro ai tempi del Covid-19”

Mi sono fatta tante domande su come questo articolo potesse risultare il meno giudicante possibile. In un periodo in cui si sceglie di esprimere la propria opinione senza alcun freno o riflessione pregressa, il fatto di far sapere il mio punto di vista è diventato per me una cosa su cui andare molto cauta. Non per sfiducia nelle mie capacità di ragionamento, s’intende, quanto per la presa di coscienza di quanto a volte parlare di cose che non si conoscono o si conoscono appena, sia alquanto superfluo. Proprio per questo motivo, lungi da me esprimere delle verità assolute entrando in campi molto distanti da me, come la medicina, ad esempio. Il mio interesse verso lo studio e la comprensione del comportamento umano, sociale in particolare, mi ha sempre portato a riflettere su come l’uomo si rapporti alle diverse situazioni od ostacoli che incontra e, in un momento di caos e preoccupazione generale come quello che stiamo vivendo, non escludo possa essere molto utile a capire in che direzione stiamo andando. Se ci fate caso, tutte le cose più assurde della vita iniziano casualmente, sono cose che tendiamo inizialmente a sottovalutare. Se mi avessero detto che il coronavirus, ad esempio, avrebbe portato a dichiarare lo stato di “pandemia” avrei riso tanto da avere le lacrime.

Una delle cose maggiormente visibili è certamente legata agli effetti che la paura ha su di noi, una paura che, a volte, può liberare l’istinto in maniera distruttiva, talvolta irresponsabile. La paura legata all’altro, che innesca una caccia alle streghe, la tendenza a conoscere i nomi degli untori, di chi ci sta mettendo in pericolo è qualcosa assai lontana dalla nostra parte ragionevole. E’ una paura che si genera naturalmente quando un essere vivente viene messo “in cattività”. In uno dei libri più illuminanti che io abbia mai letto, “Il signore delle mosche” di William Golding, emerge come anche la creatura più pura, come un bambino, se messo in una condizione ostile, possa liberare i suoi lati più oscuri. La paura può accecare l’individuo con la stessa facilità con cui può renderlo totalmente disinteressato. La paura ignorata, di conseguenza, può portare alla tendenza ad un rifiuto nei confronti della situazione che stiamo vivendo.

Cinicamente, sto riflettendo molto sul fatto che il disinteresse da parte di una fetta di popolazione, che emerge ogni volta che decide di violare le norme restrittive contenute nel decreto attualmente in atto per bloccare il contagio del virus, non sia altro che il prodotto di un lungo processo di una malsana cultura all’individualismo tipica del nostro secolo. “Fino a quando non capita a me” è una frase che non viene detta esplicitamente ma è ormai insita nelle nostre menti e corrisponde al fatto che, oramai, un problema che capita dall’altra parte del mondo non sia un problema nostro. Gli incendi in Amazzonia, le persone che scappano da una guerra, l’inquinamento della plastica, lo smog, la terra dei fuochi ci appaiono problemi così distanti, fino a che qualcuno dei nostri cari non muoia di tumore o un terremoto non distrugga le nostre case. La percezione dell’altro, in un tempo buio come quello che stiamo vivendo, ci viene assai difficile semplicemente perchè non è più un problema nostro da un po’.

Oltre agli aspetti meno positivi su cui viene naturale riflettere, non posso far a meno di notare come la stessa condizione di paura possa portare a forme straordinarie di unione. Mai come in questo momento ho voglia di abbracciare le persone che stento ad abbracciare, non sprecare il mio tempo in cose inutili, godermi le passeggiate all’aperto. Forse mai come in questo momento mi sono sentita, oltretutto, orgogliosa del mio Paese che cerca di farcela in tutti i modi, di infermieri e medici che stanno dando un’anima ad una terra sulla quale avevo perso le speranze.

Come tutti gli esseri umani che si aggrappano a qualcosa per non soccombere, mi emoziono di fronte ad un volontario che si offre di fare la spesa per gli anziani rimasti soli, sorridendo di fronte a quell’Italia caotica che canta nei balconi dando speranza a se stessa e agli altri. Mi conforta sapere che il mio Paese abbia scelto di non sacrificare vite umane per denaro, mi conforta che dal principio non ci sia stata questa intenzione. Vi saluto con la speranza che questo incubo finisca presto e con l’augurio che tutto questo ci renda finalmente svegli.

Grazia

Another Week, Another Story

Ciao a tutti,

Sono Danai venuta da Grecia e come ogni settimana, sono qui anche questa Venerdì per raccontarvi le mie nuove esperienze!

And continuing in English, because it’s easier…

The truth is that this week I didn’t do a lot of new things. After my mini trip in Brussels, for which I talked in the previous blog of mine, I back in Faenza and back to work. I continue being poor, because I’m spending all my money to travels and aperitivos, but I’m having a good time regardless the money in my pockets.

I decided to talk to this blog about a new activity of mine -association activity- for which I didn’t talk enough, I think. So, after the Christmas vacation and when I finally came back to Faenza, my coordinator asked me if I want to do a new activity and of course I told yes! Before holidays I was pretty focused on writing a youth exchange and with International projects in general, but after finishing my work and send it to the National Agency, the thing that left me to do was to waiting for their answer -and that reacquires time-. In that moment, when they asked me to start something new, I ran fast to answer ”yes, yes and yes”.

My new activity takes place every Thursday from 14.30 o’clock until 19.30 and is something I was already familiar with, after-school. I’m doing some after-school also here in Faenza, every Wednesday and Friday, but after the new year, the organization started an after-school also in Brisighella. Brisighella is a small city near to Faenza- only 10 min away with the train- and is really beautiful. The after-school there has kids in the first classes of high school, which we help to study for the next day in school- and after them we have younger kids around 7 years old, with whom we do creative activities in English.

 

 

To continue we have to talk a little bit about my relationship with kids. Four years ago, I couldn’t even be in the same place with a little kid, I mean I couldn’t stand the screaming, the curiosity and the unstoppable urge of playing, I was tired even thinking about it. But the time passed, I grew up and I had to make some money. I have a degree as a teacher of the Italian language so it was easier to find a job as one. I started doing private lessons, to adults and after the kids came looking for me. Last year I rebuild my opinion about the small people, the kids. I did private lessons to some of them and I enjoyed it. Yes, I’m still tired every time after 1 or 2 hours with them, they are so active that they can take all your energy at once, but I’m having fun and I’m feeling useful.

 

 

Knowing all that, you can assume two things about me and about the new activity of mine. First, I enjoy it and second every Thursday I’m sleeping really early, because I’m so tired every time. In Brisighella’s after-school with the younger kids we are doing a so many creative and fun activities. Every Thursday we are planning new ones and we are focusing in the English language. We’ve done already the clothes, the body parts and the seasons. As you can easily guess the next should be carnival related.

And briefly I’m saying you goodbye, my lucky readers…

Soon you next week…

Danai, Greece

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Carnevale nel Mondo

We are official a step before Carnival and me, from the lovely Italy, I couldn’t be more excited to live this period in the country of one of the most famous Carnivals worldwide; Carnival of Venice.

Of course, except the famous Italian Carnival there are also a lot of particular and popular celebrations all over the world, that I hope I could visit some day. Let’s take a look to some of this places…

NEW ORLEANS- MARDI GRAS

One famous and particular celebration is the Mardi Gras of New Orleans. The parades and masquerade balls are organized by krewes, social clubs that date back hundreds of years in New Orleans. This carnival celebration is popular known as one of the most debauched celebrations in the traditionally Puritanical United States. This masquerade tradition is accompanied by another particular one, the King Cake, in the colors of justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). 

RIO DE JANEIRO- CARNIVAL OF RIO

Who doesn’t know the most famous Carnival of all? If think there is nobody that never heard of the Carnival of Rio De Janeiro. This celebration is full of colors, feathers, parades and samba dance for days and days. The first Carnival in Rio started in 1723, and today it is held to celebrate the gods and honor the the great waters. Over 200 samba schools, or communities who decide to attend Carnival together, parade the street with colorful floats, dancing, and decorations.

TRINIDAD- CARNIVAL OF TRINIDAD

And continuing with the famous carnivals all over the world, in the second place you can find the Port of Spain, Trinidad. After the Carnival of Rio is the second most colorful and popular one. Performers and dancers prepare their costume all year for the celebration, with giant feather headdresses and sequins. The main attraction is the music and dancing, with Soca music being traditionally featured, as well as music from cultures around the world, including Calypso, chutney, steelpan, claves, and drums. 

LONDON- A CARNIVAL IN AUGUST

It’s sounds a bit weird after all there exotic places that London -with all its seriousness- hosts a famous Carnival, too. London’s Caribbean Notting Hill hosts a carnival with influences of Jamaica, Trinidad and other West Indian Cultures, every August. Given that is rooted in Caribbean Traditions is also plenty with colors, dances and exotic music.

BELGIUM- BINCHE

Moving to the central Europe, you can find a really interesting carnival tradition in Belgium and in particular in the city of Ghent. Ghent is home  to one of the strangest carnival celebrations in the world, Binche. Only Ghent natives are allowed to dress in the whimsical masks, called Les Gilles during the Binche festival.

INDIA- GOA CARNIVAL

This festival is a MUST- meaning that I have to, I need to, go there once in my life-. Originated to Portugal, the Portuguese people brought their Catholic traditions and festivals to their colony of Goa, India, which has morphed into a spectacle that’s a fascinating blend of Hindu and Catholic customs. This Carnival is considered one of the most famous and beautiful in India and millions of people visit it every year.

That’s it for now, folks…

I hope you will enjoy your Carnival!

Danai, Greece

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Brussels is Calling!

Ciao a tutti,

So, I don’t know if you read my last blog, but for those that didn’t I was influenced about my favorite thing, travelling and I talked about my ideal destinations for 2020.

The very first one was Brussels, in Belgium and to be sincere I told that it wasn’t ideal and I booked this trip because it was cheap. I can honestly tell, I was wrong!

 

 

First things first this trip was really quick. I landed in Brussels Saturday at 7.30 o’clock and I flew back Monday at 7.00. It was from the start a small and economic trip. I also had the luck to find a cheap hostel, but really nice in the center of the city.

To do a good presentation of the trip, I have to start from my co-travelers, which were two friends of mine from Spain. We started all together our trip from Faenza to Brussels Saturday afternoon, first using the train and then the bus to arrive to Bologna airport. From there a beautiful, sunny Saturday of this February we took the plain to go to the less sunny and extremely windy Brussels. We have seen in the Internet that the weather wouldn’t be by our side, but we didn’t expect that.

Our first night, Saturday night we didn’t had the chance to do much. We arrived in the hostel at 11.00 o’clock this night and we were also a bit tired. We went for a walk around the block to grab a bite and we ended up to grad a couple of beers, too. For those that they don’t have a clear idea about Belgium, I have to say that is famous for the beer, the waffles and the french fries -which as I learned in a free tour were not French at all but Belgian and they named them French the American Soldiers of World War 2 that hearing the Belgian people talking French and eating the fries, they thought that they are French. Until this day, the name remains ”french fries” and the people of Belgium are trying really hard to change it to ”fries”. So, if you want to help them, just start to call them ”fries” and spreed the word.

 

 

The next day we had a full plan of visiting the city center and see all the sights. What we didn’t knew was that in Brussels this day, they had an ”orange alarm”, that means that the weather was really bad and the wind so strong and the most of the people were actually afraid of going out of their houses. And the strangle was real! We fought with the wind, we got wet from the rain and we were cold the whole time, but we saw it all! We walked the center alone and then we booked a free walking tour; we tried the traditional street waffles and the fries that are double fried to they can be crispy outside and soft inside; and last but not least we drunk different beers that is a MUST once you go to Belgium.

Saturday went by smoothly even though the weather was extremely bad and the wind tried to hit me in the walls several times. As the night was coming one of my friends had to go, return to the airport, because she had to catch an early flight and there wasn’t a midnight bus. So, she did, but the weather played a tricky game with us again. Of course, the wind couldn’t stop early on Monday morning and the fight of my friend got canceled twice. She had to spent more that 12 hours in the airport waiting her flight back home.

 

 

On the other side, me and my other friend had one more day to spent in Brussels and we took this chance to visit the famous European Parliament. The Parliament is placed in a centered quarter and it was really easy to find it. I wasn’t impressed from the building actually; I expected it bigger and nicer. Except that, I enjoyed the sights of it. There is a place that called ”Parlamentarium” that is helping you to get more information about the European Union, its formation and history and also there is a European History Museum. Unfortunately, I had only the time to visit the ”Parlamentarium”, it was interesting and gain a lot of new information.

After these two days of moving around, watching and tasting new things, we had to return. We took our flight at 7.00 o’clock and thankfully we didn’t had a problem with the wind that was continuing being strong. We landed in Bologna around 8.30 o’clock only to discover that the wind followed me here. But, I will survive….

P.S: I also got tested for Corona Virus when I landed in Bologna. That thing is becoming bigger and bigger, right?

That’s it for today…

Danai, Greece

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Valentine’s Day all over the World!

Are you ready for a Day full of love?

Yes, I know, at this point the 14th of February, well known also as Valentine’s Day is only a chance to consume more, to pay big amounts of money to make our other half fell special and usually we forgot the true meaning of love. Around those, still romantic enough, I’ m usually hearing that for them is Valentine’s Day every day. Although, I would like to celebrate it this year, but not with fancy and expensive celebrations, full of chocolate and flowers, but with these small things, small gifts that have all the meaning and you can appreciate more.

The majority of us know the Valentine’s Day celebration in a Western Europe way that is the most famous one. The story goes like this, you get your other half a present, you are making a reservation in a fancy place and you make sure of three things, wine, chocolate and flower. Of course, in all of this situation I couldn’t forget to say that all those things supposed to be happening from a men. We women are really sensitive and romantic so we have to receive all the gifts and all the love this day. For me, it’s 100% sexists, but I don’t want to start my feminist speech in this article.

So, as I’m against all these mainstream celebrations, I decided to write this article to talk a bit about how the couples show their love around the world. Get ready to see new cultures, new traditions and I hope you’ll be open to try some of them, too.

Argentina, A whole week of sweetness

Let’s forget about the daily celebration of Valentine’s Day in the 14th of February and let’s talk about Argentina. The lovers of Argentina are showing their love and celebrating it for a week, the ”Sweetness Week”. Seven days full of romance with couples exchanging gifts, flowers and cards. But also the heart of the winter isn’t ideal for them. They are choosing to celebrate this week in July, when the weather is warmer-and as poetically I can say- as their love warm their hearts.

Philippines, A big Gala Event

The people of the Philippines are choose to take their love story a step forward this day and it’s usually the day they are getting married. The government of Philippines is organizing a big Gala Event every 14th of February, in which thousand of young couples are getting married as a form of a public service. I don’t know about you but as romantic as it can be to get married in Valentine’s Day, the part about the other thousand of couples that are going to be celebrating with you doesn’t really like me.

Bulgaria, Day of the Winemakers

One of the most famous products to get the ideal recipe of the Western Europe’s idea of showing your love in Valentine’s Day is the wine. You must have some wine, to combine it with that romantic dinner. But in Bulgaria is all about the wine… On 14th of February, San Trifon Zartan is celebrated in Bulgaria, that means ”The Day of the Winemakers”. The young, Bulgarian couples are following also the magic ”recipe” of the perfect Valentine’s Day but with a bit more wine, or if we’re talking about me, I hope with a lot of it!

South West China, Sisters’ Meal Festival

Finally, I manage to found something really interesting and outside the ordinary… In Miao, South West China, they celebrating the ”Sisters’ Meal Festival” on the 15th March, as a way to saw their affection. The women of this place are putting on some extraordinary and awesome customs, that they are considering the most beautiful ones in the world for a Valentine’s celebration. They also cook various plates of colored that’s offered on silk fabric to young men walking on roads. The destiny of the lovelies inside the object found in the chosen rice. Two chopsticks mean love and a clove of garlic means the love is over before it has even begun. If I read it write, you also think that is the woman who makes the first step her?

 

France, Epicenter of Romance

We have to talk about Paris, right? I mean all these mainstream things that I want to get away from, are actually started here. It is believed that the first ever Valentine’s Day card was originated in France, when Charles, the Duke of Orleans, sent love letters to his wife from the prison in 1415. And the French village called “Valentine” turns into the epicenter of romance between 12th and 14th February. We have to blame him, or everything! Paris, with all its beauty became a center of romance and millions of couples are making reservation in the city only for the Valentine’s Day. Around the city you can see colorful decorations and the shops are always organizing events for the lovers.

Ghana- National Chocolate Day

Chocolate, the other ingredient in the recipe of success. In Valentine’s Day you need chocolate and here it comes Ghana to bring some to you. The government of Ghana took the step of nominate this day as a ”National Chocolate Day” in 2007, to increase tourism in the country. Ghana is among the largest cocoa producing countries in the world. This day of the year the people of Ghana celebrating love with plenty of chocolate. The cities are full of people and event are taking places with different recipes and kinds of chocolate. It has a consume side, but I would like to go!

Estonia, A celebration for Everyone

Another thing that I don’t like about the Valentine’s Day is that even though we are celebrating love we are only focused to the love of our significant other. What about the other forms of love? What about all the single people? So, Estonian’s are thinking the same! On 14 Feb, Estonia celebrates friendship day known as Sobrapaev. This amazing festival includes everyone, from couples to singles. So not just couples, but family members and friends also exchange gifts and celebrate love.

That’s it for today. I hope you’ll have a great Valentine’s Day tomorrow and to celebrate it in every way that you like. In the end of the day, the most important thing is to show your love whenever, wherever and in whatever way you can.

Danai, Greece

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Destinazioni Ideali per il 2020

Ciao a tutti per ancora una volta,

and continuing with English as usual. So, I am Danai from Greece currently based in Faenza, doing my EVS and trying to figure out what life is going to bring me this new year. I ran out of themes to write -usually I am writing about my life and my experiences, but these past weeks I haven’t done something new and exciting- and I decided to write where I will go this year and where I am hoping to go.

 

Belgium, Brussels

My first trip for 2020 will be in Belgium and it will be soon. I am planing to go to Brussels this weekend, from Saturday 8th of February until Monday 10th of February. It is actually not ideal. One month ago I was searching a cheap destination to go with a friend that comes to visit me. At first, we wanted to go to Paris, but the tickets for a weekend were really expensive. After, we said to go to Berlin, but again the tickets were expensive and my EVS pocket money can’t afford them. Third option was London, but my friend had already been there and she wanted something new. So finally, we decided to go to Brussels. Everybody was like ”What there is to see in Brussels?” or ”It is not worth it!” but it doesn’t bother me. I’m going on a trip, I’m in trip mode and after all we have always to believe in the mainstream motto ”It doesn’t matter the destination, but the trip”. I’m 100% ready to survive with waffles and french fries for 2 days and to see all the nice places there.

 

Spain, Malaga & Granada

OK, this is most certainly ideal! I’m pretty sure that I talked to you a lot about the pros and the cons of my ESC experience and in general of this European opportunity for young people. So, my organization except of writing European mobility projects and a lot of other activities, is accompanying schools to trips abroad. In this way, I’m going in Malaga and Granada this March. My role there isn’t going to be responsible for the kids of course, but to help the teachers to communicate – the majority of them aren’t speaking in English-. From the first announcement of this trip I was absolutely excited and I’m looking forward to visit the beautiful Andalusia for another time. I was there a year ago, in Cordoba and Seville, but I didn’t have the time to visit Malaga and Granada. I really can’t wait!

 

Germany, Berlin

Another ideal destination is Berlin. I always wanted to travel in Berlin, is a capital full of history, so beautiful and with one of the most famous and amazing nightlife. I remember that the first time I started think about a travel to Germany was 3 years ago when I did my first visit to Prague. I said at that point with my friends that we have to go, but as usual we never did. This year I decided to visit Berlin even without my friends. I am planing to use a weekend in this summer to move a little bit northern and visit this beautiful capital.

 

Italy, Cinque Terre

And I’m moving back to the country that I am currently living. I surely want to visit the whole Europe, but also as long I’m staying in Italy, I will try to go to as many places as I can. Cinque Terre, is a part of Liguria and it’s one of the most popular summer destinations not only in Italy, but for the whole Europe. The colorful small houses up on the hills and the breathtaking sea view from above it makes this place irresistible. I am planing to do there at the end of April or early May and I’m hoping that the touristic period will start after this months, so I can find some peace and quiet in this wonderful environment.

 

Portugal, Lisbon

This is a destination that I MUST visit this year. I planned a trip two years ago, but it got canceled and until this day I’ m frustrated for that. This year, I hope the things will be better and I will have the chance to travel to Lisbon. I’ m dreaming to move around to this full of colors capital and use the most beautiful tram of the whole Europe to transfer. I also have a friend that lives in Galicia -an autonomous country of Spain, near to Portugal- and we can make this trip together.

That’s it for now, folks… I don’t want to continue writing destinations because: 1) I don’t have that much money to move around Italy and Europe and 2) if I start I will never stop -don’t even let me started with my ideal destinations in Asia-.

Until the next time…

Danai, Greece

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Prossima fermata… Atene!

Eccomi di nuovo, dalla Grecia con furore a raccontarvi la mia esperienza come volontaria ESC. Oggi voglio dedicare qualche riga al racconto del mio ultimo viaggio che ha visto come destinazione la capitale del paese.

Da qualche mese ormai sono in contatto con la volontaria greca che sta svolgendo il volontariato europeo in Italia presso la mia organizzazione d’invio, SE.M.I., con cui abbiamo iniziato e portato avanti una stretta collaborazione per la scrittura di un progetto di Youth Exchange che abbiamo presentato presso l’Agenzia Nazionale Italiana. Ma non solo: quello che doveva essere un semplice rapporto di lavoro e scrittura ha in realtà dato luogo a un’amicizia spontanea che mi auguro durerà a lungo nel tempo. Così, quando Danai (questo il nome della ragazza) mi ha fatto sapere che avrebbe dovuto recarsi in Grecia per sostenere degli esami all’università di Atene e che, se avessi voluto, avrebbe potuto ospitarmi a casa sua per trascorrere qualche giorno insieme e finalmente vederci di persona, non ci ho pensato due volte e sono corsa a comprare i biglietti per raggiungerla.
Nonostante il viaggio si prospettasse lungo, ero comunque entusiasta di poter trascorrere qualche giorno al di fuori della mia routine a Nea Moudania, e oltre a visitare la città insieme a Danai sapevo che avrei anche rivisto altri volontari e amici attualmente ad Atene. Mi sono quindi armata di tutti i possibili comfort per affrontare prima il viaggio da Nea Moudania a Thessaloniki, e successivamente 6 ore di autobus fino alla capitale, e una volta arrivata ho subito capito che ne era valsa la pena.

Danai mi ha recuperata in macchina alla stazione il giovedì e aveva già pensato al programma per la nostra prima serata insieme: abbuffarci di ogni ben di Dio che la cucina greca potesse offrire. Il tema del cibo ricorrerà più volte durante questo racconto, quindi mi scuso in anticipo se dovesse risultare noioso, ma a mio avviso, e vi assicuro anche secondo i greci, oltre ad essere una delizia per il palato è soprattutto uno dei migliori modi per stare in compagnia.
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Il giorno seguente Danai aveva preparato un itinerario che ci permettesse di toccare quasi tutti i punti salienti del centro, e al contempo goderci una bella passeggiata in modo rilassato. Per prima cosa abbiamo attraversato la collina di Filopappo, per raggiungere poi comodamente la zona dell’Acropoli e proseguire per i quartieri di Plaka e Monastiraki. Qui ci siamo concesse un giro di shopping nei principali negozi e una pausa caffé sedute a un tavolino all’aperto godendo del sole che quella giornata ci stava regalando. MI sentivo completamente rilassata e felice di scoprire che io e Danai non andavamo d’accordo solamente attraverso lo schermo di un computer!
Per pranzo – neanche a dirlo, un altro banchetto reale – ci siamo spostate nella zona di Psyrri per assaporare dell’ottimo pesce accompagnato da una birretta fresca.
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Rifocillate, abbiamo ripreso la nostra passeggiata e a ritroso siamo lentamente tornate alla macchina passando per un altro quartiere che ancora non avevo avuto l’occasione di vedere: Koukaki. Mi trovavo ad Atene da neanche 24 ore ma già mi sentivo a casa ed ero pienamente soddisfatta di come stava andando la giornata, ma le sorprese non erano ancora finite. Verso sera infatti ci siamo avventurate ad Exarhia, quartiere a nord della capitale e ritenuto il più rivoluzionario e anarchico della città; qui ho potuto ritrovare degli amici che non vedevo da ottobre, quando ci siamo incontrati per la prima volta all’on arrival training organizzato per tutti i volontari ESC. Abbiamo trascorso la serata chiacchierando e bevendo qualcosa tutti insieme, Danai compresa, la quale da tipica greca si era già integrata nel gruppo ancora prima di presentarsi a tutti. Queste sono le amicizie che mi piacciono!

Il nostro fine settimana insieme sembrava procedere a gonfie vele, e così è stato anche per il sabato quando siamo andate a visitare il centro culturale Stavros Niarchos, situato di fronte al porto del Pireo (quest’ultimo, così come moltissime città greche, era per me un luogo mitologico trovato solamente all’interno dei libri di storia del liceo quando si studiava la guerra del Peloponneso).
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Per pranzo poi abbiamo deciso di fermarci a mangiare lo street food più famoso in Grecia: pita gyros o souvlaki, a seconda delle zone. Questo piatto non è altro che pane pita, il pane rotondo e morbido, riempito con carne, patate, qualche verdura e salse come tzatziki, senape o yogurt. Una delizia! Il tempo era grigio, ma non volevo sprecare il mio ultimo pomeriggio poltrendo a letto, così quando Danai ha proposto un pisolino ho gentilmente declinato l’invito proseguendo alla scoperta della città da sola. Un’altra passeggiata all’acropoli fino a piazza Omonoia, durante la quale ho potuto godere della frenesia vitale tipica delle grandi città e di cui, devo ammetterlo, vado pazza!
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Dopo aver raggiunto nuovamente Danai a casa, abbiamo iniziato a prepararci per la serata, perché a mezzanotte sarebbe stato il suo compleanno! Per festeggiare ha quindi scelto un ristorante dove ci sarebbero stati molti suoi amici, due dei quali avrebbero suonato per intrattenere il pubblico. Poiché il mio livello di greco rasenta ancora il pavimento (o forse posso azzardarmi a dire il battiscopa, sarò indulgente con me stessa) non ho potuto interagire moltissimo con le persone conosciute durante la serata, ma tutti sono stati in ogni caso molto gentili e carini con me, specialmente Danai che cercava costantemente di fare da traduttrice simultanea alla povera sottoscritta. Anche questa serata è stata estremamente piacevole, barriera linguistica a parte, ed ero felice che Danai stesse festeggiando le prime ore del suo compleanno circondata dagli amici e dalle persone a lei care.

Poche ore dopo era già, ahimè, ora dei saluti, dal momento che per riuscire a raggiungere Nea Moudania prima che scendesse la notte sono stata costretta a lasciare Atene in mattinata. Posso dire che non sia difficile fare un bilancio di questo fine settimana ateniese, che è stato pieno di amici, cibo e chiacchiere. Sono salita sull’autobus con la gioia di quello che avevo appena vissuto, e con la consapevolezza che non fosse stata l’ultima volta che avrei visto Danai e la sua città.
Per concludere non mi resta che dire grazie alla mia nuova amica e al volontariato europeo, che permette di entrare in contatto con nuove splendide persone. Ta leme Athina!

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“Al di là delle differenze” – La mia esperienza di volontariato nel cuore di Thessaloniki

Che valore diamo alle cose inaspettate? Per quanto possa essere credibile o meno, probabilmente erano proprio le cose destinate a noi. Ci sono diverse teorie sul destino, c’è chi dice sia una scusa per chi non riesce a scegliere, c’è chi crede fermamente ai suoi percettibili o impercettibili segnali. Da qualche anno a questa parte, ho cominciato a pensare al destino come alla combinazione casuale e intenzionale di scelte e accadimenti che non hanno, in realtà, una chiara spiegazione. Tante volte ho riso degli sgambetti di questo destino, altre volte ne ho pianto. Credo che questa volta abbia voluto parlarmi senza troppi giri di parole dicendomi esattamente ciò che avrei voluto sentirmi dire. Come diceva John Lennon: “la vita è tutto ciò che ti accade mentre stai facendo altri progetti”. Non ha sbagliato neanche su questo. La Grecia, infatti, è arrivata un po’ come la vita di cui parlava Lennon, come una domanda che non mi aspettavo, ma alla quale non mi sono sentita di dire no.

Thessaloniki

E’ grazie a questo strano sgambetto che adesso vi scrivo da Thessaloniki in veste ufficiale di volontaria italiana di SE.M.I., nel corso del mio progetto Esc (European solidarity corps) , raccontandovi un po’ della mia esperienza. “A world without exclusions” è il nome del mio progetto, grazie al quale sto scoprendo e toccando con mano cosa significhi lavorare con persone aventi disabilità mentali e cosa significhi appunto, promuovere una realtà che combatta la loro esclusione sociale. “S.F.A – Drasi gia to kati allo”, invece, è il nome dell’organizzazione in cui svolgo la mia attività di volontariato ed è un centro diurno che accoglie persone con varie forme di disabilità mentale e le accompagna quotidianamente attraverso un percorso “creativo”. L’arte, la musica, il gioco permettono a questi ragazzi e bambini di scoprire, sperimentare, promuovere le loro capacità in un luogo che loro sentono come una seconda casa.

S.F.A. – Drasi gia to kati allo

L’impatto con il lavoro non è stato da subito semplice. Per la prima volta nella mia vita, mi confrontavo con una realtà della quale non sapevo assolutamente nulla. Dovendo partire da zero ero molto spaventata, non sapevo cosa avrei dovuto dire o fare, come avrei dovuto muovere i muscoli, impostare il tono di voce, come avrei dovuto scegliere le parole. Ero convinta che avrei lasciato i sentimenti fuori da quelle stanze, non era così. Più passavano i giorni e più mi accorgevo di quante sfumature ci fossero dietro ogni movimento, sorriso o sguardo di persone che sin dall’inizio non ho visto per la propria malattia ma ho conosciuto per l’autenticità del loro essere. Sin da subito, mi sono accorta di quanto il carico emotivo di un’esperienza così possa metterti di fronte a te stessa senza possibilità di “fuga”. Queste persone sono state sin da subito degli specchi, che mi hanno messo e mi mettono costantemente in rapporto con me stessa.  Il primo mese è stato senza dubbio il mese in cui era più difficile per me comprendere il mio stato d’animo, potevo passare dall’essere felice all’essere letteralmente “frustrata” nell’arco di pochi minuti, troppe volte nell’arco di una sola giornata. Nonostante ciò, gradualmente e senza neanche accorgermene, iniziavo a sentire una strana sensazione di familiarità, come se in quel posto ci fossi sempre stata e come se le persone che cercavo di aiutare, in realtà, mi stessero dicendo che ero una di loro. Tenermi lontana da ogni condizionamento mi ha permesso di rapportarmi a loro nella maniera più pura possibile e, ancora oggi, mi aiuta a conoscere parti di me che ancora non conoscevo. Ci sono delle cose che impari quando entri in un mondo in cui non c’è una regola precisa per comunicare ed è tutto una continua domanda.

S.F.A. – Drasi to kati allo

Tante piccole scoperte quotidiane mi portano ad aprire sempre di più la mente a tante cose a cui prima non davo poi tanto peso. Una tra queste è la “lentezza”, che mi sta insegnando a saper aspettare e placare tutte quelle corse infinite che ogni giorno facciamo per arrivare prima degli altri..ancora non ho capito dove. Aiutare questi ragazzi spesso significa avere la pazienza di aspettare, vuol dire concedere all’altro tempi più lunghi e passi più lenti. Ho realizzato di avere molti più limiti di quanti ne avessi considerati; i ragazzi accolti da S.F.A, mi stanno aiutando ad abbattere naturalmente quei muri che da sempre costruisco con tanta filosofia. Non avevo mai considerato, ad esempio, quanto fosse importante per qualcuno riuscire ad appendere il proprio cappotto, perchè era talmente meccanico e banale farlo, che non avevo messo in conto che per alcune persone, invece, rappresenta una conquista quotidiana. Ciò che per molti è stranezza, per me è normalità e, ormai, quotidianità. Spero di non avervi annoiati con l’inizio di questa mia avventura in terra ellenica e concludo col dire che forse bisognerebbe ricordarsi che i limiti esistono nella maniera in cui li immaginiamo e li rendiamo vivi quando decidiamo di fare una gara in cui forse non si vince niente; perchè, a volte, sarebbe bello non giocare più a chi corre più veloce ma abituarsi ad andare a passo lento, per godersi di più il paesaggio.

Grazia

Call for participants! Mindfulness for Tolerance

Erasmus+ Training for Youth Workers
10th March – 19th March 2020 (including 2 days of travel)
Wisła, Poland

training for youth workers _Mindfulness for Tolerance_

Therefore, aims of this training for youth workers are as follow:

  • To equip youth workers with knowledge and practical skills of the Mindfulness
    technique.
  • To discuss and discover how Mindfulness can be used to stop ‘working on mental
    pilot’ thus combating stereotypes and prejudice towards people from other cultures
    and countries (e.g. immigrants).
  • To develop tools (lessons scenarios) for using Mindfulness for promotion of tolerance and cultural intelligence / cultural awareness.

Participant profile: 

  • Italian citizen or resident 
  • At least 20 years old 
  • Preferably has experience as a youth worker 

Are You interested? INFOPACK – Mindfulness for Tolerance 

APPLICATION FORM

Do You have any questions? write US – ina.sasnauskaite@gmail.com