Carantina in Bucuresti

Nella vita mi sarei aspettata di tutto: di rinnegare l’amore per le lasagne, di votare qualche sovranista, di iniziare ad ascoltare Gigi D’Alessio o a credere alle fake news che mi gira mia madre su WhatsApp… ma mai, mai, avrei immaginato di vivere una pandemia mondiale!

Il mio servizio a Bucarest con l’organizzazione Carusel è iniziato il 4 marzo e da allora si sono conseguiti una serie di sfortunati eventi: il 9 marzo il Governo predispone la chiusura delle scuole e dei centri di aggregazione e ricreativi e conseguentemente anche quello in cui avrei dovuto lavorare io, il centro per minori di Obor. Al tempo stesso, comincia anche la mia quarantena di 14 giorni. Finiti questi, scatta il lockdown. Sembra una barzelletta, ma non lo è. Tra una puntata di una qualche serie tv e l’altra, un corso online e una videochiamata, si svolgono lente le mie giornate.

Tuttavia, ieri ho fortunatamente avuto la possibilità di fuggire di casa per qualche ora per recarmi negli uffici di Carusel per preparare il necessario per le attività di soccorso e supporto a persone con minori opportunità di Bucarest, una delle poche che l’associazione può ancora fare. Sostanzialmente, i volontari preparano dei pacchi all’interno delle quali vengono messi sandwich, pasta, biscotti, condimenti, prodotti per l’igiene personale… insomma, ciò che può essere utile a famiglie svantaggiate e senzatetto per tirare avanti per un po’. Ciò che mi ha colpito è che vengono create dei pacchi specifici con alimenti “pronti all’uso” per coloro che non dispongono neanche di un fornello da campeggio per cucinare. Obiettivamente, è un fatto prevedibile che vi siano persone sfornite anche di utensili simili, ma prenderne coscienza è un’altra questione. Lo sai, ma non lo sai davvero finchè non lo vedi. E’ reale. Preparati i pacchetti, vengono poi caricati sul furgone di Carusel e distribuiti dagli operatori addetti nelle strade di Bucarest durante la notte. Ho chiesto come funzionasse un po’ più concretamente la distribuzione. Mi è stato risposto che tante volte si creano proprio delle reti sociali tra individui, questi cioè segnalano a Carusel persone che possono aver bisogno e dove sono. In generale, gli operatori conoscono bene le strade dove possono trovare chi ha necessità e spaziano dal centro alle aree più periferiche.

Oggi sono di nuovo a casa. Intanto che attendo il prossimo incontro per la preparazione dei pacchi alimentari, mi godo il bel panorama dal balcone del mio appartamento con un caffè in mano. Noroc*!


* “cin cin” in romeno

Chiara P. – volontaria a Bucarest

Pensieri in quarantena


We are not in the best situation, we have to face the truth. Probably now I miss my country the most. That does not mean that things are better home, but the feeling of being in an unpleasant situation at home and the feeling of being in an unpleasant situation in a different country, in a place which does not bring you so much comfort, it’s different. Therefore, the places counts.

Although, I knew how much pleasure reading can bring me, in this times I really appreciate the existence of the books and the power that they have. No matter how awful is the reality, with a little help from a story you can travel anywhere you want. So, let’s travel.


Today I want to go in the past, because the future I don’t know it yet and the present is disappointing. I want to remember every time I was happy, every time I was surprised, the people that I used to have in my life, the things that didn’t go exactly as planned, the times when I cried.

I was really happy when I bought my dog, sadly I bought him and not adopt him but it was a family problem with adoption because my father said if we get a dog it has to be beautiful, small etc. He accepted the idea of getting a dog with strict rules so I have to respect them.

Except these moral and ethical issues, I was extremely happy when I first saw him. He was so small, too small to be separated from his mother but this is another issue when the “provider” wants just the money. I named him Gălușcă which is something to eat, it can be sweet but also salty, and the shape is round, so was perfect. I really miss having a dog, they are like kids, but furry.

I was surprised many times, because I don’t like to create expectations. I was surprised when I found out that I like to work in a kindergarten. I use to work especially with the ones that were 5 years old. They were so clever so happy all the time, with such a beautiful imagination, and so honest. Sometimes maybe to honest. I didn’t like to be bossy with them, I was their big friend, we were always joking and laughing.

The people are the most important part, I miss my friends, maybe because I don’t have many. I still talk to them every day, thanks to the technology but I miss seeing them. We are not too serious when we are together, they can be even though sometimes I try. They are really special for me, because I can’t say a believe in this word: friendship. But I am sure that they are something for me, it is not the name that is important but the feeling.

The things that didn’t go exactly how I planned are in fact not important at all. So what? I learned from every mistake that I have made. Without the things that didn’t go exactly how I planned I wouldn’t be the same person that I am today.

Unfortunately, the times when I cried were many. Some of them were really important for the person that I am today, some of them were really childish and probably didn’t make any sense. I cried when my parents separated even though I wasn’t a baby anymore. I cried for their sadness, I cried because I was in the middle and I cried because they didn’t make this earlier. I also cried from happiness, I cried at movies, few when I was younger but now I cry at almost every movie.

I embraced all the feelings that I have felt in my life till now, and I look forward for the ones that will come.


Adriana, ESC volunteer

My name is Lyubo and I come from Bulgaria

I am one of the five international volunteers at Association BIR in Milan, Italy. It’s been a little over two months since I became a long-term ESC volunteer. I live together with the four other volunteers in a cosy apartment located close to the BIR headquarters.

The organisation has many activities which provides an opportunity to choose those that are best suited to one’s abilities. I am involved in two after school projects, one project with senior citizens, two projects related to food distribution to impoverished people as well as one project in which children create positive atmosphere during basketball games. Right now all these projects are temporarily suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak that has put Italy into a lockdown which is going to continue at least until 3 April. That is why we are currently working from home. We all hope that situation will improve in the upcoming weeks so we could resume our regular activities.

Despite these difficult times I still look at the experience as a positive one so far. First of all, because I enjoy the projects and secondly, because the people from BIR have been very accommodating and supportive and they make sure that the international volunteers feel comfortable during their stay in Milan. I am passionate about the Italian language and the Italian culture and I already speak some Italian. I hope that I will be fluent in it by the time my volunteering finishes. I still haven’t managed to explore the city of Milan a lot because right now it is recommended to stay at home in order to help containing the spread of the virus. I did see some football games at the iconic San Siro stadium in January though and I am grateful to BIR because they arranged the tickets for me.

Also we had a weekend trip to Como where we had a training (which took place in a church) on relations. We met people from different parts of Italy and it was a nice bonding experience. I am looking forward to the next such meeting so I can get more involved with the Italian culture. There should have been another meeting like this last week but it was cancelled because of the aforementioned circumstances. 

Overall I am grateful to BIR for the support during my first months here. I am content with the activities and the organisation as a whole and I am looking forward to the rest of my experience as a volunteer.











Ciao tutti Tair here, 23 years old voluntario da BIR from Romania, usually wearing pants, ready to share some thoughts. Milan is really beautiful city but maybe because of the proximity side is not having a big difference between the sides of the city’s from my country so I can say that I feel like home.

We moved recently from our apartment to another one, this is bigger and here we can all live and vibe together, learning things from each other.

Today I did for the first time the activity of banco alimentare, I can say that I really enjoyed, the dynamic of the group it was really pleasurable and compact, we get in contact with so many interesting people and I’m happy that we had the occasion to help them. This activity is happening once upon a month but I wished to happen more then that.

La mia esperienza

Ciao, sono Maka dalla Georgia . Adesso sono in Italia a Milano e sono una volontaria in associazione BIR.

Direi che il primo giorno è stato emozionante, tutto nuovo, l’ambiente , le persone , tante culture messe insieme. Non è facile, ma lo stesso tempo è molto interessante e accogliente. In una settimana abiamo visto le cose da fare e mi piacciono le attività che abbiamo, e penso che sarà più interessante in avanti.
Dopo una settimana che ho vissuto a Milano, sono andata per una formazione a Roma , dove ci siamo incontrati  con i ragazzi provenienti diversi paesi, che in questo momento vivono in tuta l’Italia. Abbiamo condiviso le nostre esperienze .
Sono molto grata , erano le persone meravigliose!
Adesso con queste fotografie provo far veder come ci siamo divertiti un giorno a Roma 🙂

Vorrei far vedere e sentire a tutti che questa la nuova vita e opportunità.  Vi ringrazio per tutto.


29 novembre, venerdi

Io sono Adriana and I am one of the new ESC volunteers.
We are at the end of the third week. I do not miss home, for now. We are all trying to learn Italian as fast as we can. For people that speak Romanian is supposed to be easier but that is nothing but one point plus pressure.
I find Milano not so different from Bucharest, the city where I used to live in Romania, except for the fact that here, in Italy, the consequences of the fascism (communism for Romania) are not so visible, from the architectural point of view. So for me Milano feels like home, I feel that I am welcome here. And also for me, maybe is not so important the city, but the people in it.
Maybe every time it is a little bit difficult to live in a new house, but I am used to it so living in the hub, and maybe next month in the new apartment, it doesn’t represent a problem for me. I am excited for the fact that we, as in all the volunteers, will live in the same house, because together with all the other things that are new here in Milan, this is one of them. I hope, that after few months we will be able to speak Italian in the house.
I knew BIR before I come here, because my association back in Romania (Carusel ♥) is connected with BIR so I knew for sure that I come in the right place. The only thing I was nervous about was the fact that I will no longer live in Romania, I will no longer know every street, every word for expressing how I fell, and I will no longer have the same routine.
But now the stress had disappeared because I feel safe, because I will know the streets of Milan, I will know some Italian words for expressing how I feel and I will make from unknown something that I know very well.

Memories from the backpack

It’s really strange to realize that my EVS is ending and it’s hard to believe that 11 months passed so fast. But I guess it’s always like this when you do something nice… time flies fast and even the good things come to an end. I remember like it was yesterday how I arrived in BIR’s office – it was late at night and I was dragging a big heavy suitcase behind me. I made a big circle around the neighborhood until I found it on the other side of the bridge.

So how was this year and what I will take with me? It’s a pretty hard question… because there were so many special people that I’ve met, so many interesting activities, so many things and places that I saw, so many emotion and thoughts. It’s like when you are moving to another place and want to take everything with you but the space in your backpack is limited.

In my mind I split these 11 months in 3 periods : 1 –  The long retreat, 2 – parlo poco italiano, 3 – Now I am ready to do more! But… I have to go back home.

The long retreat:

I remember my first day in the office, large bright rooms with modern design, nice welcoming people smiling to me and a very relaxed atmosphere. It didn’t feel like in a normal office in which people are stressed about deadlines or afraid of their boss; it was more like chilling at work.

In the first 2-3 months my main activity consisted mostly of silent observing and listening. I guess it was the most silent 2 months of my life and even if I’m not the type of person who usually speaks a lot, it was too much even for me. I was feeling like a Zen Buddhist monk who took a vow of silence in a very long retreat.

There is one particularity that you may not know about Italy: most of the Italians don’t speak English so… it’s basically either Italian or Zen meditation. At the beginning it was disappointing but then turned into the best motivator to learn Italian.

I couldn’t understand why my colleagues from the association or people that I was meeting were talking so emotionally. Often, I felt frustrated when somebody was joking and everyone was laughing loudly but I couldn’t understand why… that situation when you put a confused smile on your face and pretend that you also get it.

We spent the first month visiting different social and youth centers, schools, other associations where BIR was doing their projects. We were very lucky because BIR has a big variety of projects so it was very interesting and exciting and I felt lucky that we could choose the activities that were closest to our interests. And by “we” I mean me and the other 3 EVS that also were in the same project with me. Together we were like the fantastic four of BIR – always ready to use our superpowers for making the world a better place! We even had a special button on the gate of the hub where was written “Volontari BIR” so people could call us anytime when they need the help of a professional Superhero…

When the sensation of everything new passed I started to realize that I could not really get involved in the activities, or make friends, or have a deeper conversation than “- Ciao, come stai? – Tutto bene, grazie” because my possibilities were very limited and the limits were determined by my capacity to understand and speak. For the first time, I experienced so deeply the importance and the power of the word. My world in the first months in Italy consisted of my room, office and a couple of people who spoke English, then slowly by learning it, my world started to extend and become larger, including new things, new people, new places, new possibilities. I heard many times and in different variations the idea that the language is capable of creating the world but I used to take it more as an abstract idea or a beautiful metaphor, where in fact it’s not so abstract. It’s that case when you became conscious of your teeth just when it starts hurting.


Parlo poco italiano :

After 3 months, I got used to my new life and as I was able to understand Italian pretty well, I started to make little basic conversations. I even learned to cook pasta like Italians (not boiled to much so it steaks a bit ot the teeth) – they call it “al dente”, it’s a big thing, because in Moldova and some other countries from East Europe we call pasta “macaroane” and boil it until it becomes very soft. In Italy it’s almost a blasphemy against PASTA so they can send you back home for this. Ok I exaggerate, but there are some things that you have to be careful with in Italy; respect the Italian Pizza, Pasta and Coffee.

I finally had my (more or less stable) schedule with my weekly activities it looked like this : Monday and Tuesday I usually was spending in the office half of the day learning Italian and in the evening I was going to the meeting with volunteers or related to the projects that I was involved in. On Wednesday morning and Thursday and Friday evenings I was “making” (because it was more assisting in the beginning) in a social center/market called Vetrine. We were making activities with children and elder people. I also had an activity at the local markets 2 times per week we were collecting the fruits and vegetables donated by the sellers and giving them for free to the beneficiaries. Also a lot of occasional event, workshops, trainings, presentations so pretty intense.

Meeting new people and creating new relationships I guess it’s one of the most beautiful part of this type of experience and it was very rich in meeting amazing people, I guess i could write a story about each of this meetings. Starting from my homies (other 3 EVS from BIR) our coordinator Serena, BIR people, volunteers, beneficiaries and many other nice and not always nice people J.

I was feeling more comfortable to get involved in the activities. And a big step was also that finally the long (sometimes too long) meetings that I was assisting on started to make sense…

When I came to Moldova for holidays for the first time after 5 months away I was happy to meet my family and friends but I had also a strange feeling that I miss my life in Italy, the people, the city. Didn’t expect that I will get so attached but now Milano is like my second home.

My big discovery in this period was the culture of volunteering in Italy… here it became something so natural and normal for the Italians that they almost don’t understand why I’m so fascinated about. In my country we are just making first steps in this direction and seeing so many people of different ages, from different cultural and social background willing to sacrifice their time and energy for helping other people is really a beautiful and inspiring thing.


Now I’m ready to do more but… I have to go back home

Now I speak Italian pretty well, to my cooking skills added making coffee with moka and a decent risotto. In my last months of project I took part in a summer camp in Romania with a group of Italian volunteers, I made an amazing 10 days walking trip in mountains of Sibillini, my main activities ended because everybody went to vacation.

I feel good in Italy and enjoy what I’m doing, I’m ready to do more but… I have to go back home.

Last Roommate Standing

In short:

Coming in last to the 11-month volunteer project and leaving last from it has its good and bad sides. The middle part was arguably the most important but instead, I write about the end.

Expanding on that a little:

I arrived late to the project, between a month and two after the other volunteers had already started. Imagine it like walking late into the party but not exactly “fashionably late so that you’re not the try-hard that everyone looks away from”, but instead you’re there 2 hours into it and you’ve missed the first whoops of joy, as well as a bunch of the inside jokes. But you’re there anyway, and the party isn’t ending soon, so you jump right in, do a little uphill battle with the established relationship dynamics and look for an empty cup to fill with a drink, and maybe a chair in which to take a break.

That metaphor aside, I can never regret that this happened the way it did. I was late to the project because I didn’t know about it existing until two weeks before I came – and I’m glad I could, because that gave me so many amazing experiences here. And in coming late, I still had the benefit of having roommates, who could take me through everything quickly and efficiently, help me get my tax code or tell me which cheese is best (for the first time, I did experiment with cheeses later on) in the supermarket. Even if I felt like I missed out on some important forming times for our little volunteer team, we made our own later on – with just a little bit of consciousness that we needed it, and a little bit of effort. Like I heard in a podcast I was listening to recently: we should be active in our friendship building, instead of taking it for granted.


So, late to the party or not, the ball started rolling for me very fast. From activity to activity, and through many many travels around Italy, which I loved wholeheartedly, months passed by fast. In the middle of an ESC project it’s a little difficult to look towards the end, since you’re enjoying the process so much, and there is always, always, something to learn and improve in. The middle part, let’s say most of it, was mind-blowing and fantastic.

I got used to the city of Milano, which I now feel like a new home, and I can’t exactly and fully imagine leaving, and after getting used to it, I fell in love with it. With its efficiency, and its connectedness, and the beautiful, awe-inspiring buildings in the city center, through the cute and green-filled terraces of the periphery, and the quiet serenity of the outskirts, where we live. I love the parks, best roamed with a bike, and I love the bookstores, in which I’ve spent countess hours lost in good fiction. I love how walkable it all is, made for people, and I love how much people in turn care for the place in which they live. I’ve grown to appreciate all aspects of Milano, not as a touristic destination but rather a wonderful home.

I got used to the volunteering tasks, which filled me with purpose and the desire to learn. Got used to them, and you can imagine, I fell in love with them and the people inside them. I’ve written about the project Recup and the joys of the strange market, but beyond that, for me some activities were so engaging and important, that they pushed me towards starting online courses, researching the topics in depth, and appearing to the youth center as if weaponized with new techniques to try out. I discovered (or maybe rediscovered) my fondness for teaching (and preparing the teaching material), since I had the chance to help some teenagers with their English; I learned a lot of non-verbal games and exercises, which gave me a little more access to the children we had art class with every Thursday. The lovely grandmas, which we saw every Wednesday morning, taught me how to knit, gave me a taste of the home-made Italian food, and told me so many stories, trusting me with their feelings and their hopes. The cookies we made with the bakers downstairs from where I’m writing this now, still remain in my head with the vivid scent of sweetness, and the giggle of the kids, playing with dough.

We traveled. We traveled so much, with the other volunteers – mostly with my roommates Tamara and Delia, and with Vasile, who lived next door, and with Luciano, who worked with us at the youth center. It feels like we visited every little spot in the north of Italy (we definitely didn’t), like we had time to freely get off at the little stations, for which you don’t have time if you’re in Italy for a week.


We spent days roaming around the small places that are around an hour or hour and a half with a train from Milano. We saw the big Places (with a big P) to be seen – Venice, the week before Valentine’s; Firenze with my sister; Bologna with Luciano; Genova with some guests from Georgia; Verona with a very close friend – and more to the south – Rome with our mid-term evaluation, Napoli for a summer getaway. Monza, on the first of May, with their giant and beautiful park, and not much else; Varenna, with it’s wonderful colors and a long walk to a secluded beach; Stresa and an almost-lost phone; Vigevano and a moving performance art piece; Lecco on a windy day with laptops for working; a painful sunburn and a fresh spritz right next to Lago di Garda; the most impressive monastery right next to Pavia. And many more, of course.

The months passed by fast, events stacking up, an impressive number of pictures resting in my phone. Fast forward through these months and that’s how I get to be still here, a month after the last volunteer before me left, with still a few days to go, The Last Roommate Standing.

It has been a strange couple of months. The beginning of the leavings started with Luciano still in August (even though he didn’t live with us, him not being here could really be felt, coupled with the longest waiting for a metro while waving goodbye on the opposite sides of the tracks), and then the ‘end of the project’ vibe settled in, while slowly picking out other volunteers we knew, sending them away to their new adventures, picking out one, then a second roommate from our house, and in the end – our neighbor Vasile too.

That on its own is a rollercoaster – saying goodbye to so many friends and waving bye again and again while everyone leaves, while you stay behind over and over again. At some point it felt like a petulant reluctance on my end – why am I not ‘growing up’ and leaving too? Obviously, because I need to finish my project, and because I was sure I could enjoy some time alone in Milano in a different way than I had with everyone else.

I had friends over to keep me company, of course, but in-between arrivals and departures and wonderful times with friends, I spent a not-insignificant amount of time dealing with an unusual quiet and what that means for my own personal world; writing and reading a whole lot; occupying spaces at home in new and creative ways, as to feel them as less void of company. In that month alone (I don’t want to repeat alone again and again, so just imagine it here and there, artistically sprinkled), I had many more long walks, while listening to audiobooks and podcasts; I got to discover some beautiful streets and neighborhoods I’d never seen before; I got to look at the city and its inhabitants with more care and attention, and put more thought into what I want the future to hold for me, how I would like these 11 months to impact me. Because of the persisting rain, I also had some pretty sub-par days, in which I felt very holed up, with a lot of things to do but little desire for anything but long YouTube videos and definitely longer books to read, but those passed fast.


And now I’m in the last draw, less than 10 days remaining, with melancholia sweeping around me in increasingly narrower circles, making me anticipate and dread the day of departure. I feel like I don’t have unfinished business to keep me here, and there are so many things waiting for me to take care of, so many things ripe for developing, so many new opportunities. But I know that I will miss these amazing people I spent the biggest part of the party with, the people who made the party worth it, and I know I will miss Italy and its beauties all the time.

With the last roommate standing shutting off the lights on her way out, instead of feeling like I’m looking back with a desperate reach to stay, I almost feel a little sad about our home, filled to the brim with warmth, friendship, laughter, love, memories, and the plushies we collected over the months. The apartment which will no longer be ours but will keep in one way or another the energy we spent here, in work and joy, in exercising and recharging.

I want to make my case about why being the Last Roommate Standing could actually be a positive, a real positive for me. See, this is the second year I spend abroad (last time, I was finishing my studies in Greece), and the second time I am out of the apartment last. The previous time it was on purpose, and seeing how I did have the choice to leave early if I wanted to, this time I chose it too. Why? Because it gives time for much-needed self-reflection. I had time to calmly go through all parts of our apartment, throw away everything that isn’t needed, reminisce, laugh at forgotten pieces of memorabilia, and pack in peace. I spent some time making lists (I love lists) of what I want to do while I’m here and what I want to do when I’m not. I got to look at the clothes left over from everyone, pick out the ones I will not need, and combine them for a charity drive. I got to re-create the space I’ve lived in for the last 10 months, even for a little bit, but with the ideas of what it means to live alone, especially in the context of most of your friends no longer being a coffee-break away. I made a box for the next ones to come, filling it up with well-wishes and some precious collected items (keep them safe!), thinking about what I wish I’d gotten when I first came here.

All of this is to say: to the next Last Roommate Standing, take up the challenge! Make the most out of this strange experience, and if you manage to make it any more melancholic than I have in those last couple of pages, I will give you a reward!



Alla fine

L’estate e passata talmente velocemente che mi viene difficile credere che mi restano solo cinque giorni in Italia. Non mi sono preparata per la fine e quindi non sento gli emozioni ancora e lo so che nei prossimi giorni saro occupata con i bagagli e le preparazioni. Comunque, provo di ricordarmi come mi sentivo quando sono arrivata qui, undici mesi fa.

Mi ricordo che ero contentissima di aver la possibilita di fare un lavoro col senso e di vivere fra delle persone con esperienza e sopratutto con entusiasmo. I primi giorni sono stata fascinata dall’associazione con tutti i suoi progetti ed i suoi volontari. Dall’altra parte, mi ricordo che avevo paura di non essere utile, di non essere capace di fare bene il mio lavoro, di non imparare l’italiano abastanza bene, ero anche un po’ stanca di condividere la stanza con delle persone che non conosco.

Adesso, alla fine, vedo che le mie aspettative sono state soddisfate – ho imparato un sacco di cose e ho piu fiducia nelle mie capacita – ho incontrato della gente chi fa delle cose stupende, con una creativita straordinaria. Ho fatto anche delle cose che non avrei mai pensato di fare – come il corso di canto o come la raccolta di frutta e verdura al mercato.

Le mie paure sono scomparse velocemente – ho trovato il mio posto nelle attivita ed ho provato di contribuire come ho potuto e con gli altri sve siamo stati una famiglia dove mi sono sentita davvero a casa, libera di condividere tutto e di essere me stessa.

Oltre le attivita e l’associazione, quest’anno con tutto il tempo libero che ho avuto, ho provato anche di capire la realta dove mi trovo, cioe la situazione politica del paese e della citta, la cultura con i libri, i film, la musica; ho viaggiato molto e ho visto dei posti bellissimi.

Penso che la piu grande sfida che ho avuto durante questo voluntariato e stata la gestione del tempo libero. Non ho mai avuto un anno con tanto tempo libero da quando ero piccolina ed sono passati abbastanza mesi fino a quando ho realisato che potrei utilizare questo tempo per svolgere un progetto personale struturato e coerente ed alora ho avuto dei momenti dove mi sono sentita inutile. Alla fine, penso che questa e stata una delle piu importante lezioni che ho imparato qui.

E ovvio che alla fine di una tale esperienza, la domanda e come sei cresciuto in questo tempo, e la prima risposta e che sono cresciuta senza accorgermi, in un modo naturale. Solo guardando come ero all’inizio posso dire che e stato un processo molto benefico per me, chi mi ha fatto aprirmi ed andare la dove non osavo, alle mie limite in alcuni momenti. Sono molto contenta e riconoscente e porto con me i sorrisi, i sguardi delle persone che ho incontrato qui, i colori e gli odori dei posti che ho frequentato e un pezzo dell’Italia, con la sua diversita e le sue contradizioni, nel mio cuore. Grazie!



More on Trenno della Memoria

Jarmila Knotek was 22 and czech. She smiled in her Auschwitz photo, even though she probably knew she was going to die soon.


She was born in the wrong time, I imagine – but then, which of the people that died then was born in the right time? Who was in the right place if she was in the wrong? The children, stripped of their shoes to be left in a pile for “better use” or the mother who watched her child die in front of her?

Maybe if Jarmila had lived, she would have become a freedom fighter, or an educator, or – honestly – whatever else, but I think she would have approached life with energy and positivity. She would have been a force for change, however big or small, with that smile.

It’s unfair that she died, that they all died for nothing worthwhile. It is a waste and a shame, and sadly we can’t change any of it. However, we can try to stop the other unfair, uncalled for, early deaths, still happening today.

Emotions are easy to manipulate. That doesn’t mean to say that it makes us weak to have them, or they are wrong on principle , but manipulated emotions make people completely forget what they stand for as humans. People around the Jewish ghetto in Krakow, people who turned jewish neighbors in to the nazi regime, people who supported the ruling party with all their efforts – I imagine most of them were blinded by strong emotions. Fear of the “others”, fear of the economic situation and the uncertain future, fear of repercussions, desire to protect the closest to you (your family, your children) from the threats of the “bad elements”, or even the desire to keep and safeguard your values from being culturally pushes away.

Those people were driven by manipulated emotions, fueled by propaganda, supported by the lack of proper understanding and education.

I think this is one of the better ways to move forward: with the thought that if only:

If only people were educated that there was nothing to fear from Jarmila Knotek, or from any jewish, roma, slav, gay person who died too soon;

If only people understood they wouldn’t disturb their lives or their well-being, that the economic situation would not be worsened by their life;

If only people saw that diversity in all forms is what pushes humanity into progress,

Then maybe people wouldn’t be pulled in the propaganda; education would prevent the blatant misdirection and malicious influence over a society.

Then maybe people wouldn’t blindly believe that refugees are bad and bring only problems with them; that muslims are a terrifying threat, or any of the other modern exclusionary language.

Peace exists in understanding and humanity. I’d like to think that the way to stop the unfair, horrible early deaths which happen every day around us, is through understanding.

And understanding is achieved through compassion and education.