Solidarity Overcomes Solitude – After the Project

ESC Volunteering in Teams – “Solidarity Overcomes Solitude – SOS”

Last month, a group of ten short-term volunteers from all over Europe met in Altamura for the first time. Together with two long-term volunteers (Malou and Filipa) of Agorateca, they realised a European Solidarity project about literature, storytelling, poetry and theatre.In this episode, they talk about their experience and all their feelings and thoughts related to this incredible month in Altamura.

Here you can find their shadow theatre performance “NOI”. A show created by all volunteers and it’s a representation of some of the situations of everyday life related to the discovery of one’s body and the criticism of the concept of beauty.

Link of the podcast, all volunteers along with Vasiliki created while being in Italy.

         It is difficult to sum up this experience in a few words. A month in Altamura, Italy has been an experience full of emotions, learning, meeting amazing people and visiting different places. It is said that every day you learn something new, but in this volunteering experience, every day we learnt so many different things.

         We learned how to write poems, stories, how to create our own character from the scratch (having all those realistic small details as it could have been a real person), how to create a Kamishibai (a form of Japanese street theater and storytelling), and by creating a Kamishibai I mean that we had to write a story from the beginning to an end, then we had to create all these pictures by hand, that are related to our story and finally make a case to put the whole story in, so people can borrow it in the library of Altamura. It was a very challenging experience as we only had a few days to complete it. Also, we did a shadow theater and then we had to present our work to the locals. We all shared our ideas and thoughts to finally choose a very important subject for us, to present in the final presentation. We chose “Body Diversity” and during the preparations of the whole presentation, we all had to share our feelings and thoughts, even our concerns and fears about our bodies or about this topic in general. It was an amazing way to understand that we all have fears, we all feel sometimes insecure, but also it was an amazing way to accept ourselves and love our bodies more. It was a presentation to the locals, but it was made with real stories and that made the whole experience so intense.

         This volunteering project was not only about learning new skills or creating something new, it was so much more for all of us. Living with people who are different from you, that you never met before, with different cultures makes you wonder if you can co-exist in a house and communicate with them as you would do in your home town with your family. I think that we all had the same fear and that’s what made it so easy to start being friends and later, a family. We learned to listen to each other, to understand that everyone is different and that was really exciting. All of us, despite these differences, we became a family full of understanding. We took care of each other. We embraced each other in the good times and in the bad times.

          Sharing different cultures, different ideas, different ways of living, made all of us be more open-minded but also made us feel that all countries have so many things in common and that no matter where you’re from, what you believe in or what your skin color is etc., we’re all humans with needs, dreams, fears and so much more.

         After all, in order to be able to look at the world around us, it is necessary to look inside ourselves and that is what we did. It has been a really amazing experience for us, we have created an important group of people who seek to make a revolution based on love, respect and concern for social issues that are very important today. Now it is difficult to go back to our reality, but something has changed in us, our hearts and minds are so full that we will do new things and we will not stop dreaming of new meetings and volunteering opportunities.