Akvilė shares her experience from the training course in Greece:
Greetings from the marvelous land of Greece where a training course by the name of “Youth Work for Solidarity, Awareness, Diversity” was held.
To begin with, I was introduced to the magnificent people of Greece when staying in a remote multicultural town of Komotini. I was astonished by the indigenous and authentic life of Komotini – starting from the vital rhythm of nightlife to intercultural dynamics of local people. Personally, for me it was an unique opportunity to be a part of daily lives and practices of Komotini which I will never forget. I really enjoyed seeing a genuine side of the place full of hospitable people who were proud of its ethnic features. For instance, the tuneful side of taverns in the evenings, large selection of cuisine options alongside architectural heritage.
Talking about the theme of the training course and activities that were held in general I must say that I gained some priceless experience. First of all, I learned that every task that was provided had its purpose and thoughtful meaning. Many of these activities required some team work. As an example, knowing how to approach a person for help or to listen actively in order to receive some insights about a particular matter was crucial for the realization of main goals and pleasant atmosphere in general. However, other activities also required at least a bit of comprehension about the situation of refugees in Lithuania since it was mandatory for each team to introduce the current situation and political background in decision making.
What is more, one of the most precious activities which I highly enjoyed was based on debates (agree/ disagree) about particular polemic statements such as “I should have an opportunity to travel wherever I want to” or “I am allowed to always be myself despite the circumstances”. It was not a surprise that there were some disagreements among the people hence the most valuable insight I mastered is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, the ability to influence other people’s perspectives and viewpoints through argumentative speech is inseparable from the power to change various discourses in regard to substantial matters.
Another eye–opening lesson was associated with the problematic nature of the phenomenon that concerns refugees of different backgrounds. A simulation type of activity was introduced to us in order to induce the empathetic sense for people who are struggling to maintain a humane existence in fearful circumstances. The main goal of the task was to successfully apply for asylum in Turkey. Nevertheless, it wasn’t easy – the determination, patience, sense of hope and belief in human kindness was tested. Since the border control officers who were impersonated by the Turkish team were only speaking in native language, each time I was rejected and misunderstood produced some level of desperation. Retrospectively speaking, I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this kind of activity because it forced me to gain some compassion about the matter and to think twice when making assumptions even though it was just a small part of reality these people must face.
To conclude, the experience was quite astonishing. I truly hope that the gained knowledge, wonderful people from unique backgrounds and multicultural pulse of Komotini will stay in my memory for a long time. I look forward to attending similar youth non–formal learning projects.