Arrivederci beautiful Italy!

It was the end of September when we took off from the Skopje Airport to Milano Airport. All the participants were so excited because it was their first time to fly by plane; they had never flown by plane before. Fortunately, we had a smooth flight, which lasted only 2 hours. During the flight I was watching the student’s faces; they all find it interesting as they were taking photos through the plane window. The Milano Airport was so huge, but we managed to arrive to the bus, which took us to Torino.

After 2 hours drive we finally arrived in Torino. Surprisingly it was a sunny and warm day, contrary to the weather in Macedonia, where it was colder. Then we took a metro and got off at the last stop at Lingotto. We walked for a while and the Hostel was there. I knew how to get there because I had been there before, during the Preparatory Work. The accommodation in the hostel was wonderful, the rooms well decorated. The Italian facilitator Antonela was so kind to take us out for dinner, at the Stefano’s restaurant. We will never forget his delicious Italian dishes, pasta, macaroni, pizza, pannacotta, tiramisu and his motorbike in the middle of his restaurant. Although, he did not know any English, he was a very pleasant man always with a wide grin on his face. The facilitators; Andrea, Antonella, Agnese were so kind and helpful, caring for us all the time.

The next morning we all gathered downstairs in the hostel’s kitchen were we met the other participants; Norwegians, Finns, Italians, Slovaks and Greeks. A mixture of different languages could be heard in the noisy kitchen.

After half an hour walk we arrived at the Media Center were the sessions were held. It was a nice place just appropriate for our Project, with wide premises and a big park around it, good for performing the energizers and the games, during which there was a lot of laughing, pushing, jumping, dancing and running.

The Youth Exchange was about A Visual Narrative Approach to Counter Hate Speech, organized by The Volunteers Centre Skopje, during which we had a lot of workshops, games and fun. The participants became aware of the diversity, how to answer to different kinds of hate speech. Throughout photo stories, animations, photography and documentary, they learnt how to counter hate speech especially on the basis of race, religion, ethnic and national origin, gender identity, appearance or sexual orientation.

It was fun to communicate with the new friends which was an excellent way to improve the participant’s English speaking skills, as well as during the workshops, the parties, hangings out, even at the coffee breaks were they were exchanging different points of view.

The multicultural night was another way to learn about other cultures, to try different kinds of food, to listen to different kinds of music. The participants tried to learn Greek dance Sirtaki, or Macedonian dance Pajduska. We had a great fun that night.

As we were having sessions from 9 am until 6 pm, 10 days were not enough to see all the beauties and sight-seeing of Torino. We visited the amazing symbol of Torino, the National Cinema Museum, which is one of the most important of its kind in the world with its great collection of spectacular presentation that offers visitors exhibition of the cinema history from its origins to the present day.

Torino is often called “The Paris of Italy” due to its royal past and majestic architecture. Wandering around the city center was impressive. There was so mach to see, beautiful churches and palaces, art galleries, opera houses, pizza restaurants, parks gardens, theaters. The walk overlooking the River Po and the nice Torino hills, lights, a lot of people walking around at night was unforgettable experience for all of us.  We end up that night in an ice cream parlor, where we tried different flavors of ice-cream. It was the organizer’s idea to treat us with delicious Italian ice cream. Although most of the participants wanted to stay more in the city center and to enjoy the night life, we had to go back to the hostel because the bridge which led to the hostel closes at midnight. But the fun was not over, the participants continued to party on the hostel’s terrace, singing songs, playing the guitar and funny games.

On the last day of the Project there was a party. All the groups and the group leaders were presented, the participants were awarded Youth Passes, there was a presentation of all the project outcomes, we watched the Animation, the Documentary and the Photo Story, group photos were taken and talented participants presented themselves with songs and dances. I loved the Italian song “Bella Ciao” and enjoyed the show of the other groups, too. The night was over with a disco party.

On the departure day, there was a lot of hugging and tears because we became very close to each other and the separation was very sad, but we promised to continue to keep in touch on social media.

To sum up, this was an amazing project, and a great experience, which has broadened the participant’s mind and the horizon. I would like to participate on a similar project in future.

I recommend participating in projects to all young people because they are unforgettable experience.

Many thanks to the Project organizer – the Volunteers Center of Skopje, for giving us this wonderful opportunity to participate in this Project. Hope we will set off for another adventure soon.

Ilina Minoska

Photos: Ilina Minoska / Hicham Ourdane

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