Vasi took part in the youth exchange “Food for Inclusion” organised by Associazione Kora in Fattoria Scuola “La Buona Terra”, Passignano sul Trasimeno, Italy, from 3 to 15 October 2017. The project involved 35 youngsters from Bulgaria, Estonia, France, Italy, Lithuania, Spain and Turkey in activities about food: cooking classes, debates, intercultural presentations and reflections on the production of the ingredients we eat.
This is her story!
Hei there! I’m Vasi, a 26 years old PhD student from Lleida, Catalonia and I decided to share with you the amazing experience I’ve had participating in the project “Food for Inclusion”, organized by Associazione Kora. Before starting, I have to say that from the very beginning, when I saw the topic of the project, I was literally thrilled, and the first idea that came to my mind was: “Who was the genius who decided to create a project on social inclusion through food?” Not that it wasn’t obvious that the best conversations people seem to have are around a table and, in my family, I would even say they happen, more often than not, in the kitchen; but for some reason, I’ve never thought about a project in which the participants could cook. In any case, I decided I would go for it, and most especially after seeing the activities that were already scheduled long before the beginning of the project.
Getting to the farm where we were going to stay was, shortly, a continuum of some unfortunate circumstances that made honor to the character of the country we (my friend Ieva, who also participated in the project as a gorgeous group leader) were representing, by being late. But we were more than welcome to take part into the activities and we even got a ride from the station to the paradise they called “Buona Terra Farm”. And I have to stop here for a description that I’m sure will not make any justice to the sheer beauty that this place was. Located close enough to the town of Passignano sul Trasimeno to go for a walk after lunch, Buona Terra is one of those Italian farm houses that appear in Italian movies, surrounded by olive trees and an infinite number of other plants whose name I would like to know. On the farm, I found amazing friends from different countries, but I also made amazing non-human friends who were permanent inhabitants of the place, like Maria, the awesome dog that was filling our days with love and joy. The building had a lot of rooms which we shared, but I would say the best one was by far, the kitchen. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen, mostly cooking and learning, but also dancing, singing, and talking and you know what, that was sooo amazing. My biggest gratitude goes to the people in charge of the farm and the association, as natural, friendly, and warm-hearted as all the living beings they were taking care of.
From the very first day, we started working on the different activities that were thoroughly prepared for us. At first, we had to know each other, and build a team solid enough to elaborate a project. Afterwards, we shared culinary customs from our area and exposed our thoughts (most of them wrong) about the eating customs of the other national teams. It was great to see how stereotyped our ideas were and how important it is to spend time listening to people who come from different places. We also participated in simulation games, a forum theatre activity, and a lot of cooking lessons that each national team had to organize and which I enjoyed as much as I could to the extent that more than once, by dinner time I wasn’t hungry because of the hundreds of time I smelt (and not just smelt) different food while cooking!
I’m afraid this is not the place to name more of the activities that we participated in during this project, since I believe there is an easy way to actually access the infopack and check them! However, I wouldn’t like to finish before explaining how it was to have the chance to wake up every morning in a place that charged my batteries to the top, knowing that was the beginning of another great day. From the start, I knew I was going to learn a lot, both from the organizers of the project and from the participants, who always seemed eager to share their knowledge about any concern we had. And I did learn a lot about food and inclusion, and about groups of people whose existence was largely unknown to me before. But the most important thing this project showed me was to walk in the shoes of other human beings, and oh boy, it moved me to the bone. I have no words to explain my gratitude to the people who made it possible, but I will try to become a better human being myself, and maybe this will be the best way to pay them back.
My love to: Giulio, Joe, Iulia, Alexandra, Marta, Piotr, Miriam, Shiela, Cristiano, the Bulgarian team, the French team, the Estonian team, the Lithuanian team, the Italian team, the Spanish team, and the Turkish team for showing me to see the world through new and awesome glasses.