Programme & action: ERASMUS+, Key Action 1: Youth Exchange
Venue: Trissino, Vicenza, Italy
Dates: 20-29 July 2017
Participants: Klára Jochymková Vít Salajka Claudie Janiková Miriam Langerová Michal Ardan
Group leader: Claire Pohůnková (GL)
Please read the info-pack
Participating countries: Italy, Czech Republic, Poland, Spain, Hungary, Bulgaria
Hosting organisation: Comune di Trissino & Studio Progetto
I took part in the War and P.E.A.C.H. project, as I have always been interested in the topic. I hoped to learn a bit more about the current migration situation in Europe, as well as to learn about the perspectives of others on the given topic. In this sense, the project was a success: we learnt that 80% of all migrants arriving to the EU enter through Italy via The Mediterranean Sea. As a result, you can imagine how interesting it was to us Czechs, Polish, Bulgarians, Hungarians, and Spanish when our fellow Europeans not only told us about their day-to-day experience with migrants, but also introduced us to some of those who immigrated to Italy.
We met three Nigerian guys who entered Italy a few months ago and have been waiting for the refugee status in the nearby town Valdagno. We have had the invaluable opportunity to get to know them and ask them questions about their journey, as well as about their time both in Italy and back in Nigeria. Talking to these people and seeing they are real is so different than just reading about the numbers of migrants (in hundreds or thousands) in the newspaper!
Yet another way in which we deepened our knowledge about displacement was a talk by two Italians who volunteered in refugee camps in Jordan. Hearing about their personal experience with people who experienced hardships and loss and had little hope in their future was a very strong experience. What made it even stronger was an interactive simulation they prepared in order to make us better understand what a migrant experiences while traveling in a packed boat across the sea for weeks: we were guided to squeeze on an imaginary boat, share (or steal) some limited food supplies, and some of us had to leave the boat (and die) or wave goodbye to their loved ones.
Personally, I have most enjoyed a trip to Campo Grosso, a mountain bordering the Veneto and Trentino regions. The latter used to be part of Austria-Hungary and so this mountain on the border was an important battlefield during World War I. The day we spent there was a perfect combination of learning and having a great time: from a hired guide, we learnt about local history and human struggles and we also saw the history with our own eyes in places where dead soldiers have been commemorated. However, despite this heavy reality, we also had a unique opportunity to see this beautiful region and spend some time together with the other participants, as well as taste a traditional gnocchi dish typical for the very region.
In order to share what we have learnt during this week not only about displacement and war but also about the encounter of different cultures, as well as from each other, we prepared a video which will soon be available on YouTube and a sketch which we presented to the public in Trissino. In the video, we talk about the project and interview our new friends from Nigeria. In the sketch, we conveyed the message that “sharing is caring”: sharing the things we have with others often leads to greater happiness than being selfish and unwelcoming.
All in all, the project was very well organized by the Italian team who not only managed the logistics extremely well, but also introduced us to their beautiful culture through local food, trips, and encounters with locals.