Skoulikaria – a remote mountainous village teaching love and warmth

View over the Chelona mountain

View over the Chelona mountain

Reading through the last posts I come to realize that youth work sent me into a world of hospitality, giving and love to the other. Then, maybe this is the norm, and the world is really a beautiful place filled with care?

Message from our new friends

Message from our new friends

In the world of Skoulikaria, this is true. Old family origins brought us and Inter Alia there, while Inter Alia’s on its turn held its first Training in the framework of the KA1 of the Erasmus + programme and  brought 30 participants from Italy, Estonia, Sweden and all over Greece there too.

Smiles

Smiles

I am happy to share my excitement about the success of the “Game of Challenges”, the true success of a village that managed to open its heart to a bunch of unknown and strange people. And it was not a love at first sight. The process of introduction to each other and meeting took some time. When meeting the unknown, cautiousness is not a bad advice. And we had caution on both sides. But not for long.

Happy Europeans

Happy Europeans

Senegal – The Lions of Teranga

Dakar

Dakar

I’ve been more than silent recently… Not because the project is over or because there’s nothing new around, but because, I am speechless after my latest experience in Ziguinchor, Senegal.

Many places have left me speechless, for a while or for longer. While Senegal stole my heart.

Caraban

Caraban

“The Young Side of the Moon” and PRISM brought me to Senegal for work. But there I found an absolutely new world, beyond similarities, comparison and comprehension.

Teranga means hospitality in Wolof and Senegalese both women and men are true lions – caring, loving but above all fascinating in look and sure in themselves.

Here I would like to apologize for the poverty of my words, and descriptive skills. Senegal and its people managed to enchant me in an unrepeatable manner. This is an attraction beyond reason and explanation. I made my hair by their fashion, put various African decorations on me and at home, only to get closer to their magic… I hope I took their kind attitude with me, I hope I’ll manage to bring it further.

Senegal, I have never met that great people in my life! Thank you for giving me so much and opening my eyes!

Fishers' village

Fishers’ village

Fishers' village

Fishers’ village

Portugal – Land of Warm People and Free Spirit

This is a story of how dreams come true, of the road between the words spoken and actions implemented and of the infinity of the soul.

Sunset over Lisbon

Sunset over Lisbon

If you go back to Week 10 (here) you can read about the Training “Sport Plus”. By then my teacher (in the best possible interpretation of this calling) Altino suggested that we hold together a follow up of this training at his place in Portugal… Nodding in agreement in June 2014 it was hard to believe that his enthusiasm will remain, that a new application will be written, that it will be approved and that a whole new project will come out of it. However, in early December 2014 it was true. The SPLUS II was approved and there we were: 7-15 March, Marvão, Portugal, for a new experience.

Marvao

Marvao

About the training, its methods and objectives you can read here:  On the Nea Pragmata spot I would like to focus on the people that hosted us in Marvão and those we met in Portugal. In a village of less than 200 inhabitants, literally within a castle, one can easily forget the world behind the castle walls and transfer himself into a new world – of introspection, self-development and accomplishment. Let’s not generalize, and let me tell you about the warmness of acceptance. Coziness and comfort were offered to the whole group by the hosts, the hotel and restaurant owners, the local library clerk and the bar holder. While having the only bar in town, he never thought of taking an advantage, rather opened his doors to all, and at any time of the day. During our sessions the mayor visited us, not to check and control, but to thank for the selection of his municipality for our training. Same experience we had in Portalegre, in the local coffee shop, and in Lisbon.

Being a guest in Portugal means you will be treated as such, as the legends advise… Obrigado!

Lisbon

Lisbon

What about the food, the Fado music and the beauty of the Alentejo landscape – I suggest you go and taste for yourself!

Project Cycle Management at Caltanissetta and the OST Express

Absence from here means a busy schedule, new experiences and new things… Here I am, back to share.

In the last 10 days of February we were at a Training mastering details of the “Project Cycle Management” with a fully vibrant group of project managers from Italy, Latvia, Cyprus, Senegal, Kenya, Vietnam and Greece. All this in the framework of “The Young Side of the Moon”, a project on Capacity Building in the field of youth, in which Inter Alia is a partner. More about the project, find here.

OST Express

OST Express

OST Development

OST Development

About the uniqueness of the experience and the richness of spirit of these new people I met, there’s a lot to be said and written. Here, I would like to share the “Open Space Technology”(OST) which was offered in an Express format.

A week earlier Fausto (our host and project manager) asked me to prepare a session for the last day, when all participants will be free to express ideas for the future, while with some facilitation they could get inputs from other participants and shape and re-shape their ideas to a fruitful end… The interesting part was the timing. There was not much time left. And it was getting less and less as usually happens with the last day, when everybody wants to add something and share in the last minute But we didn’t give up and participants remained there to get the most out of the session. Under heavy time pressure and strict time framing. Didn’t matter.

This was how I discovered the OST is possible even in an extraordinary setting. And it went well.

Creative moments

Creative moments

Creative moments

Creative moments

Happy Faces

Happy Faces

Ideas on Paper

Ideas on Paper

Week 39 – Last Days of the NP Project

Omar

Omar

December was named “The Visibility” month: I read (and also wrote) a lot about the project, about youth work and youth policies. I lived and re-lived all the 26 weeks of the mobility, reviewed the process, from the application submission till now, few hours before the end of the year and before the end of this life-enriching experience, called Nea Pragmata – LBB.

Thank you all, who stepped on my way during this project!

Thanks to you I learned and grew! Thanks to you I feel ready to go on learning new things!

Alla prossima, because the New Things never end…

Week 34 – Reflection Time

Already in the phase of writing the Final Report… An inevitable task, that can be done efficiently through reflection. Might seem like a loss of time, but reflection is a powerful tool, a basis for improvement and growing.

There’s the FB page of the Nea Pragmata LBB project. In the following 26 days I will be posting a reflection on each week of the mobility. I will re-live my Palermo experience, hopefully reaching out to another level of self- and cosmo- comprehension.

Yes, this is what I am looking for, through my personal and professional exploration.

Sinaver Idrisov: Dawn is wiser than the evening....

Sinaver Idrisov: Dawn is wiser than the evening….

Week 30 – Back

I wasn’t really sure how it was going to be, but the time after the end of the mobility of the project flies even faster. However, given your interest in my work, I will continue sharing my experience in youth work…

In October I took part in a Training Course about Social Entrepreneurship with youngsters and youth workers from the Mediterranean countries.

Well, every now and then I understand why experience is so important and respectively highly valued. Although, I have been studying the region, and have a considerable knowledge on intercultural skills, this was my first encounter with youth workers from the non-EU Mediterranean countries, as Tunisia, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt… And, yes, it is different.   : )

Of course, my job is to analyze and deconstruct stereotypes, rather than reinforce them 🙂

SEMCO Stars

SEMCO Stars

I feel so much richer, so much more knowledgeable after this experience. Ask me for more!

Erasmus+, Youth Work and European Cooperation

All of these sound way too official and formal… Don’t they? There is a 7 year budget plan, billions of Euros behind it, people in suits discussing and deciding for new stuff all the time, official journal of the EU, etc…

However, every now and then when I witness European cooperation in practice I think that maybe they are those to thank to… ‘Cause all the options are there, otherwise I probably wouldn’t be involved in any of these.

So, here’s the story: After the first time we wrote and submitted a project for the then Youth in Action programme, it was my natural reaction and without too much thinking I wrote to all partners, thanking for their flawless cooperation, that regardless of the results, I felt like the project has already started. And it was true, everything that we wrote about in the application form was already there, exchange of ideas, mutual support, planning and planning of what we were going to do… The proposal was announced a Runner up and never took place. (So far…) Then I cooled down and realized that there is so much more stuff necessary to happen for doing a project together, most of all to be among the best!

Now, almost two years have gone, and I again feel the need to share that what is a real cooperation and probably has a sustainable impact is truly the intense period before the deadline. A great deal of communication: e-mails exchange, hopes, efforts to persuade, planning, sharing, reviewing, editing, again planning… All of the above mostly happen together. Not together at the same time, but together with the others, with your partners and potential partners.

For this 1 Oct deadline I was coordinating the Networks of three separate projects, and I couldn’t help but shout: “This is what I call European cooperation!” A lot of communication, a lot of new names, a lot of exchange… A hope that this is all going somewhere, that all of the projects are going to be approved and will pace the ground for a peaceful co-existence… And yet, this is the real prospect, when there is no benefit thus far, when you are only hoping and trying to be as good as you can!

Impressive and inspiring, I am looking forward not to the announcement of results, but to the next deadline!

Week 26 – Is it really?

Same, same but different!

Same, same but different!

Time to say ‘Goodbye”… No, not yet! However, this week came up as a real turning point: an important but controversial deadline, a semi-celebrated B-Day and a new flat. Same-same but different, indeed!

Sharing my experiences here weekly wasn’t that difficult a task, and even though it involved a great deal of reflection, I still can’t tell when all these 26 weeks went away… Like the first time I visited Palermo, like every time I have been enjoying it, like a feather in the wind…

When I am thinking back about the months spent here, a great deal of things changed as well: the Greek Presidency of the EU was followed by Italy, quite a coincidence out of 28 options, read here; the old Youth in Action Programme, which sponsored my stay here is now over, followed by its heir the Great Erasmus+, … yes, still dealing with its novelties and other details;

When checking the To Do list, I can’t say I did everything planned, but that’s what these lists are for … I was hypnotized by the light of Lampedusa, closed the swimming season from a sailing boat two weeks ago, did the Sicilian traveling, although with difficulties… What else? On the stadium I am going this Friday, and Italian – well, I have 6 whole more months to practice, will checked the level by then, not now J Teatro Massimo – on view from the balcony every single day; From inside – I still plan to go…

Also, I still haven’t decided if I will be posting weekly here, or I’ll change the rhythm but it’s important that we all know – NEA PRAGMATA remains a meeting point for youth workers and other searching souls open for discussions, questions, doubts…

THANK YOU for your presence, attention and support! Grazie a tutti!