domingo, 24 de noviembre de 2019


By Ethan Mills

‘RESISTANCE’ was an 8 day youth exchange in the beautiful town of Specchia in Italy’s Puglia region, bringing together young people from across europe to exchange ideas and foster intercultural relationships. This was the first of two exchanges under the RESISTANCE theme with this mobility focused on fighting extremism and radicalisation using the power of media literacy. 

My Spanish team: Shadi, Colomer, Belén, Raquel, Cristina, Alex y Celia.

The project included participants from Spain, Italy, Greece, Poland and Bulgaria, which meant there were a lot of cultural differences to deal with and lots to learn about each other. Additionally some of the groups varied greatly in ages, from 15 or 16 in some teams to 27 or 28 in another. Regardless, everyone went into the week very excited for the challenges that lay ahead. 

Specchia is a very small and beautiful town in the south of Italy, however it is very hard to reach, as a result the teams were scheduled to meet in the closest city of the region, Lecce. As part of the Spanish team we had roughly 4 hours to wait for the private bus that would take us to Specchia so we decided to explore the city and get some lunch. This is where the adventure began after spotting another group of young people hauling their little travel bags behind them, we had bumped into the Greeks. From there the conversations were flying and introductions were made, little by little more teams joined us and eventually we were a full 40 europeans who had taken over the little bus station of Lecce.

The first night consisted mainly of introductions and getting to know people over our first meal and subsequently our first few drinks. In the morning we began the programme which started, like every morning, with an energiser. This was designed to get us up and moving and excited for the challenges if we weren't already.

DAY 1:
Icebreakers and introductions. 
Day 1 was very chaotic and fast paced as we had to try and learn the names of 39 other people in the group (which included our own groups) using a variety of games, conversation tactics and name shouting. One of the first things we did was head to the centre of Specchia to the main square where we formed two parallel lines facing one another, much to the bemusement of the locals. The task was ‘Speed Dating’, we were given 1 minute to talk to the person opposite about a topic that was given to us, after 1 minute one line shuffled along to talk to a new person. After half an hour we had 30 conversations and had learned (almost) everyone's names. 

After lunch was a visit to the local municipality where we were given a brief talk on the history of Specchia and its role in combating extremism. Following this we were back in the main square listening to a local historian elaborate further on the history of the town whilst walking through the main sights. This included the underground olive mills, the local church and a lucky visit to the roof of the main building were we could see Specchia in all its glory. 

DAY 2: 

Team Building and Communication

On day 2 we were randomly split into teams to begin working on the first group task, the egg drop. This involved designing and making a ‘nest’ to drop your egg into using only 5 sheets of paper, 3 balloons, some tissue and some masking tape. Unfortunately the majority of the groups missed their nest during the drop and so no one was able to protect their egg. Next up was the spaghetti tower. Each team had to build the tallest tower using spaghetti, marshmallows and small gummy sweets, the tower had to be able to support a balloon on top. We were judged on, height, ability to support a balloon and our use of resources (the fewer the better). Both tasks were very fun and brought together all nationalities regardless of their level of english or their confidence. It also gave us a chance to interact with some people in the group we had not spoken to before. 

After lunch we spent a lot of our time preparing for the intercultural night which took place that evening. Each country made and brought traditional food and drink from their country, which gave us a chance to try things we’ve never heard of before and learn more about each other. I will never forget drinking a famous Polish ‘hangover cure’ which was just a full glass of pickle juice! Following this we danced to songs from all over the world and taught each other our traditional dances, it was truly an incredible experience. Although I don’t believe I will ever be able to dance like a Spaniard with my English hips, nor move like a Greek with my two left feet. 

DAY 3:
Day 3 was our rest day where we had the morning off so we could relax and enjoy the local area. The first task of the afternoon was designed to highlight the idea of misunderstandings and misinterpretation. We were split into teams and lined up one behind the other so we couldn't see what was happening behind us. The task was to relay a message to the other end in different ways, first was a drawing on eachothers backs, then performing an action and then retelling a story. This was very eye opening and also very funny experience to see the change in through the challenge. Our final challenge of the day was to guide blindfolded ‘sheep’ into a ‘pen’ without talking, this had to be done by the ‘shepherd’ who was elected by every team member. The teams had to design a system of signals to guide the sheep home in the quickest time possible. Again this was a very funny challenge which involved lots of misunderstandings! 

DAY 4:
We began the morning in the beautiful Italian sunshine with an outdoor activity to highlight privilege. All of us were given a ‘character’ and had to take a step each time we would answer ‘yes’ to a question. In the end we revealed our ‘characters’ to highlight how some unchosen aspect of life can set you at a disadvantage. In the afternoon we had one of the funniest tasks of the trip where we were all given a ‘culture’ with different conflicting characteristics. The challenge was to build a shelter together while maintaining our culture and being unable to explain it to others. The result was a terrible shelter but a lesson about cultural differences that I will never forget. 

DAY 5:
This is where we started our campaigns for the project, after being split into groups and given four media platforms: video, photography, instagram stories and a flash mob. We brainstormed ideas for how to do a campaign to fight extremism and radicalisation which we would continue on day 6. In the afternoon we did a very emotional task which helped us to empathise with refugees and people who had lost a lot in their lives. This evoked a very emotional response from many people, highlighting how tough life can be especially for those less fortunate than ourselves. In the evening we were treated by the locals to a lesson on making pasta! We also were given food and drinks famous from the area and listened to local music. 

DAY 6:
We spent all of day 6 doing our campaigns, taking ideas from the brainstorming we had done on day 5. My group was part of the video group which meant lots of awkward moments in front of the camera! In the evening we went to the centre again to see a local band that was playing in the square. It was a night that everyone started to realise how close we had all become in the past week and that our journey was almost over. 

DAY 7: 

Our final day! We spent the morning finalising our campaigns as best we could and trying not to think about going home. Most of the group left on day 8 as planned but a small group of the Spanish team had to leave that evening to catch an early flight the following morning. There were lots of hugs, kisses and tears as we spent the last hour saying goodbye to everyone we met, who now felt like a big family. The time had come and the first group, including me, made an emotional farewell to a truly unforgettable and fantastic week. 

The friends I have made on this trip I truly believe will be friends for life, the experiences we shared together, laughing, joking, eating, drinking, dancing, crying, is something I will hold onto forever. 

I finished this week a new person, with new experiences and a fresh perspective on what it means to be european and to be human. If you gave me the opportunity to do this again I would already be waiting at the airport ready to go. 

No hay comentarios:

Publicar un comentario