Today we publish the article telling the Francesca’s Experience in Spain for the Youth Exchange in the field of Erasmus Plus of the “Zumba” project.
What did I learn, and how did I learn it?
The question that echoes in my mind after every youth exchange. You know, learning is a subjective process. It’s like looking together and at the same time one picture but noticing different details because of a variety of perspectives, thinking patterns, views and ideas. Just like what happened the first day of the project when we were asked to interpret the avatar of each of us, and everyone saw what they wanted to see and revealed a bit of themselves in every guess. It occurs to me what my teacher once said <> So it’s on you, on your attitude. You can absorb an experience only as deeply as you open yourself up to it. If you let it, then this journey will change you. The outcome of the project is in your hands, but first you have to allow yourself to be vulnerable— touching the limits of your understanding, opening yourself up to a place and trusting in its people.
From every project I treasure a word with a special meaning…this time was “Abarka”. In Basque culture it is the word for the traditional footwear, but this is not all. In Spanish, abarcar is to involve people, while in Madinke or in west Africa it means thank you. All concepts connected to the spirit of the organization that hosted us in the magic of Basque Country. There in Hondarribia, in the quiet of the morning calm, between one zumba session and another, where the scent of the sea inebriates you and the breeze caresses your hair, great stories were told. In a context with 36 people of all ages and experiences, representing 7 different countries (Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Moldova, Georgia, Russia) – but many more cultures – you will never know where stories will appear but it’s worth the time to listen. Stories that exist in the minds and memories of the people, and keep existing outside their mind when people leave and tell their friends and family back home. Yes, because some stories are just waiting to be discovered, valued and shared. Personal stories, successful stories, stories of love or rebirth, even Instagram stories! I will never forget what one participant confided in us when we discussed youth addiction, or the important narratives on existentially challenging situations from childhood or even the experiences of some participants in raising kids. That’s when you understand that it’s not about the activity, it’s not about the topic…they become just tools. It’s to open yourself to see sharply the differences in our habits, to taste intensely the cuisine during the intercultural nights, to hear keenly the rhythm of the different traditional songs, and feel gratitude for such a remarkable opportunity. Because when you do so, you forge deep connections that will live in your memories forever and nobody will ever take them away from you.
Francesca Politi – JUMP Team