“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

Il ritorno dopo Natale…

Ciao a tutti,

and a Happy New Year!!

I am back here to start the 2020 with a lot of energy, new experiences and food, of course. For the Christmas holidays I went back in Greece to see my family and my friends and enjoy some time in my home.

My feelings were mixed…

 

2019 memories photo

 

Before even leaving from Faenza to start my trip back to Athens I was pretty sure that I didn’t want to return. I had to stay in Italy to see how is Christmas time for the Italians and have this experience, too. But, my tickets were already paid and I couldn’t chance my mind so easily -after all, I think I already told you that I don’t have that much money to spent…-.

So, I returned in Greece and I landed in Athens. After a long journey I was finally home, in my bed sleeping during the afternoon because I was really tired from the flight and the change of the environment. I woke up at the right time to start my first night out in Athens and meet my friends. And that is how everything started….

 

I spent a week in Athens going out every single night and having fun. Of course with a bit of sleep and a lot of food. I saw all my friends and we had so much fun that after a point I almost forgot that I live in Italy now. After this fun and exhausting at the same time week, I took the bus to visit my parents and surprise them. They had no idea that I am going to my hometown to see them, even though they were literally begging me to go I was always telling them that I don’t have the time. Their reaction was precious!

I spent New Years Eve with them in our small village, in which they have a small, beautiful and traditional coffee shop. It was exactly what I needed after the previous week. I relaxed near the fireplace, I drunk coffees and hot chocolates, I took long walks with my dogs and I ate a lot for an other time. I also helped them if it was needed.

 

 

After 4 days with them, I returned to Athens to start getting ready to come back here, in Italy, in the magical Faenza. But, I never expected that for another time I didn’t wanted to go away. I got comfortable in Greece, with all these people around me that I love and it was really hard to come back here. I had to sit and think about all the positive and negative things to realize for another time that the opportunity to be here is amazing and I don’t want to change a thing.

 

 

After all, I am going back in Greece soon…

Danai, Greece

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Sono… malata!

Ciao a tutti per ancora una volta!

There are about 3 weeks and some days that I am officially living in Italy for a year. The EU picked me, SE.M.I picked me and I still don’t know the reason – I am kidding, I am getting some work done-. You already know my first impressions from Faenza, this small city that I am living now and for the next year. It’s beautiful, it’s pictural, it’s a medieval fairytale with the classic Italian architecture that makes you every time wonder if it’s really you that woke up today or Cinderella – even though you are not even blond-.

Anyway, the city of Faenza it’s my everyday mystery and I am giving my best to explore a small part every time. But, unfortunetelly, as beautiful it can be this city, it’s small and I am used to live in capitals, in big cities with big lights and nights that you are forgeting your name and nobody cares. I had to find a way to combain my preferences with my current state of living – Faenza-. I can thank for that my free weekends who gave me the solution to travel every Friday afternoon until Sunday and visit the big cities of Italy that have a special place in my heart.

That is in a few words my routine here. The week days I am working, shopping – I have to stop this hobby-, having fun and sometimes doing aperitivos so the week will pass easier. On the other hand, the weekends I am starting my adventures by visiting new cities, exploring the various architectural styles of Italy, visiting museums and getting to know the Italian lifestyle a little bit better.

One of the other things that happend to me during this change of country, change of routine and all these new information in my life, is that I… got sick! It’s pretty logical if you think about it. In Greece is still summer and when I came here I was also in a summer state of mind. But North Italy laught in my face. My first week here the weather was terrible. It was raining – I didn’t even had an umbrella and I took one in an emergancy situation, that so I paid for it 5 euros, the guy saw my need, he took advantage of it, I can’t blame him-, there cold got me unprepared also. As you can easily imagine I got sick in Italy from my first week. Maybe it’s the only time in my life that I had an autumn flu so early, in October. In Greece the cold weather usually comes in November.

I survived and that is the important thing of my story. An other situation that got me ungard and I really didn’t believe that it would be so difficult to get used to it, is the early morning waking up.

Maybe, I hadn’t the opportunity until now to explain you the situation in our house. After all these years of living alone, feeling secure, embrace my liberty, now I have two roommates. It’s ok because I was prepared, I know it a long time before coming in Faenza and I made my peace with it. Even though, the morning routine it’s a pretty difficult thing with just one bathroom and three girls who want to get ready for the office. The cherry in the weeding cake of course is that I am not even close to use this morning waking up at 8 o’ clock. I had like 3 years now that I was sleeping late and waking up at 12.00 o’clock in the afternoon, the same time that now starts my lunch break. Ok, I can say it really loud and proud, I GET YOU ORGANISM, IT’S A BIG SHOCK!

Anyway, I am trying really hard to get my organism to get use to the new lifestyle, the new food and especially the new enviroment. With the passing of the years I realized that the one thing that you have to love with all of your heart and respect it’s needs, is your body.

So, this blog we can say that is dedicated… to my body!

Arrivederci,

Danai, Greece

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A Greek is in Town

Hello to my lucky readers,

I am the last expected from this year’s voluntering programs (ESC) and I am finally in town. So many things to say, some many things to do and still don’t know how to start.

Funny, right?

I suppose that I can talk a little bit about the crazy and awesome opportunity that I have to come for a year and work as a volunteer in Italy. The European Union founds every year a lot of organizations to take volunteers and give them the best experience of their lives. This year I was one of the lucky, lucky ones and this organization in Italy, known as S.E.MI, saw something in me -I really don’t know what, I have to ask them at some point- and they chose me as a volunteer for a year in this little and beautiful Italian city, Faenza.

I arrived in this beautiful town of Faenza in a sunny Monday morning – I really hate Mondays, but that was a good one- and from the first moment I had the feeling that I was home. There are many differences between Italians and Greeks, for sure, but with the first impression, the energy that Italy and Italians give you feels a lot like the greek hospitality and kindness.

The first thing that everyone notices in Faenza is the medieval architecture with all these beautiful tall building, the huge wooden front doors, the vintage windows with the tiny balkonies and the small, traditional avenues. I think you can find it logical that I got lost from the first walk in this town. I mean, why people keep trusting me alone, right? Just kidding, I am pretty indipendent and I can find my way back in any case. But my first day here I really wanted to get lost in these small streets so I did it.

I also was really, really happy when I found Parco Bucci, a park full of animals like ducks, rabbits, swans and unfortunatelly pigeons -my greatest fear of all-. So, I desided to start healthy this year -as a resolution from the mainstream quote ”new town, new me”- and start running at this park everyday, even though I haven’t done it yet – it was raining,ok? I wasn’t bored-.

Parco Bucci, 02/10/2019

From the second day I started socializing with the other volunteers here and had a great time. We had a tour in the city of Faenza, we took all the necesities -because let’s face it, we are going to live here for a year, I need a lot, like A LOT- and then we tried some traditional things, foods and activities here.

So far so good, I don’t think that I can share anything else because we must have something to talk about the next time. For now…

Arrivederci!

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AAA CERCHIAMO UN* VOLONTARI* SVE: GRECIA (7 mesi, Salonicco) PROGETTO GIÀ APPROVATO!

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Partenza il 6 Ottobre 2018, rientro il 30 Aprile 2019.

Tutto gratuito (anche il volo è rimborsato) e anzi, L’Unione Europea offre un rimborso spese oltre a stanza singola in appartamento condiviso!

Il posto è Nea Moudania, paesino di mare vicino a Salonicco.

Per candidarti, scrivi a info@associazionesemifaenza.com o chiama Elisa al 389 8443025! Servono foto, cv e lettera di motivazione in inglese. Importante: è tutto completamente gratis per il volontario!

Qui la descrizione delle attività:

The activities that required to work the volunteers are divided into categories – working packages, which are implemented in cooperation with other local actors:

WP 1: Sports – creative activities for children aged 4-7 years with a sports orientation (sports through games)

WP 2: Social offer, which is divided into:

– Reception and classification of product offerings and distribution to socially vulnerable groups

– Participation in charitable activities (cooking for persons, events to collect food, clothes and sponsorships)

– Collection of vegetables sponsorships from local street market producers and their disposal in needy

WP 3: Solidarity between generations, which includes creative and social integration of the elderly through actions such as:

• Board games and memory games

• Gardening

• Dance

• Construction and crafts

• Trips

• Cooking

• Intercultural activities (presentation of the culture of each country)

• Intergenerational dialogue and promote values ​​such as exercise and a healthy diet

• Learning new technologies (computers, mobile phones, etc.)

WP 4: Cultural activities with participation in organizing local cultural events, recording and promotion of the region’s cultural heritage, etc.

WP 5: Information for young people – youth activities, including:

– Upgrading of the website and view our organization through internet / posters / social media etc.

– Promotion of the Erasmus + program and the idea of volunteering in the local community (through personal videos, presentations to schools and tuition and information events)

– Participation in the organization of Youth Exchanges and Seminars organization, the promotion and dissemination of these

– Open English lessons or the mother tongue of volunteers

– Open seminars depending on the interests of the volunteer (handicrafts, visual arts, new technologies, etc.)

Volunteers will work for maximum 38 hours per week, which include all the activities that described before and also gives space for implementing their own initiative. Two days as day off will be provided but the exact days will be agreed according to the needs of the project. Also, the exact time of holidays (apart from the official holidays) will be arranged after discussion with the hosting organization.

Profilo del volontario/a:

We are looking for motivated and enthusiastic volunteers, able to get involved in cooperation and share their experiences and ideas, aged 18-30 years old, which will be chosen according to their motivational criteria, willingness to work in a team as well as commitment and interest to work with youth, elders, kids and people with mental disabilities. We will host four young people from Spain, Portugal, Italy and Poland who really want to live as a volunteer, to learn from their experience and to develop personal and professional skills.

Cerchiamo partecipanti italiani per uno scambio in Grecia!

Carissim*,
se non vi abbiamo ancora contattato per partecipare allo scambio, significa che per questa volta non vi abbiamo selezionato. Mi raccomando, non vi scoraggiate e continuate a mandare application! E’ stato difficilissimo fare le selezioni e avremmo tanto voluto inviarvi tutti! Non appena avremo altre opportunità le pubblicheremo sui gruppi Facebook e sul blog dell’associazione SE.M.I. – Seeds for More Interculture.


 

Tutto gratuito (chiediamo solo tessera associativa di 5€), viaggio rimborsato, 31/8 – 9/9 2018, Nea Moudania (vicino a Salonicco).

Aperto a ragazze e ragazzi dai 18 ai 30 anni. Non è necessario parlare bene inglese, solo essere motivati, aperti di mente e curiosi! Lo scambio è basato sul tema dell’euroscetticismo, che verrà affrontato tramite tecniche cooperative di educazione non formale.

Per candidarti clicca qui: https://goo.gl/forms/0nSIjBfbxLYMHKlp1 

Euroscepticism?? Take your role and… face it!!!

The aim of the exchange is to promote to the young people the very crucial sociopolitic phenomenon of Euroscepticism and to ask them to testify their ideas and opinions and to propose methods on how to face it.

Activities

1. Preparation and presentation of “Parlement conference” using the Role Playing method where the participants through their roles will discuss on the Euroscepticism phenomenon and its consequences in sociopolitic level.

2. Interactive participation in Role Playing workshops under the leading of the trainers Ms Stavroula Pagona, Ioanna Thomopoulou, Vasilis Stoulos.

3. Participation in informative interactive discussions about the euroscepticism phenomenon under the leading of EU policy advisor and volunteer cooperator of our organization Mr Elias Iordanidis.

4. Participation as audience in municipal council of Nea Propontida conference.

5. Excursion in Sithonia peninsula

6. Orgnization of the interactive game “Refugees Pursuit” in the center of the city with local people participation.

7. National evenings organized by the participants (traditional songs, dances, food, drinks etc.)

8. Presentation of the participants.

Travel info and budget

The nearest airport is Thessaloniki airport “Makedonia” (SKG). The amount that we cover for travel expenses, regarding the distance calculator, for each country and for each participant is:

Italy : up to 275€ pp

From Thessaloniki airport we can arrange you the transfer to the venue by minivan. Total cost per one-way route is 60 euros (for 6 people)

**Please be aware that the 31 of August is the arrival day and 9 of September is the departure dayof the project.