Blog translated entirely by volunteers!

Blog translated entirely by volunteers!
coordinated by Stephen Hallstrom, Peace Corps volunteer
and Anamaria Cătănoiu, Center coordinator
Volunteers, highschool and university students: Constantin Drăgoi (București/Bucharest), Ovidiu Panaite (Cluj), Oana Zlatovici (Suedia/Sweden), Olga Unguru, Ioana Tuvene, Alexandra Pădureț (Iași), Mihaela Hăican (București), Liviu Dîrdală, Ioana Cozma, George Georgescu, Alina Rotaru, Andreea Marcu

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

End of story...and yet the book show goes on

Beauties from the book tale
On Friday, 9th of December, we met again at the County Library from Mr. Sava Str. to continue the short film project.
We joined again our duty with seriousness and funny happy moments, the movies with the books and the library and the bookish city of the imaginary space, into an attempt to rediscover the meanings of love and reading. For this time, the gangster–readers faced a fierce battle among the shelves of the Reading Room and so they have learned that violence does not solve the conflicts and that love can save everything. How about the end? In the end, there was beautiful wedding between people and books, where the novels were reconciled with their readers, the gangsters, the action and love. (prof. Ana-Maria Cornilă-Norocea)

Impressions from the participants:
Claudiu George Ţibrea, IX B: Today, while filming, I felt as a real mafia boss. During the struggle between the two clans I’ve learned what means to make decisions, how to take prisoners and how to lose one of you men.

Rareş Gătin, IX B: I thought it’s easy to act, but I discovered it is hard work to do. It’s hard to stay serious, when you are used to smile most of the time. 

Andrei Costache, IX C: Even though I cannot be so easily when the shooting takes place, I enjoy it so much and I am glad that I am with all my school mates and that we work together for a memorable short film.
Cristina Nenciu, IX B: A few amazing hours, story hours and dreamy hours. We altogether stepped into the imaginary world and tried our best to be as close to the performance of real actors.
Dana Manole, IX B: Beyond the belligerent appearances, the movies had a special sensitivity. 
Raluca Lupu, IX C: Books form together a city of dreams, where the characters have escaped from the books of love and action. The two mafia clans fight, argue but the story ends with a wedding.

Andreea Strătulă, IX C: It is the beauty of the past combined with the fragrance of the books…
Every beginning has an end. A beginning of fighting and arguing followed by a love story ended with a wedding near the books. 

Translated by Oana Zlatovici - volunteer 
hard work!

Reading delicacy

Smiles and books

Joint by the love of books

Knights and ladies

The book lady

Monday, December 19, 2011

This year Santa are teens...

On Friday, 16th of December, right between the days of Saint Nicholas and Santa Claus, we visited again the County Library from Maior Sava Street, to bring gifts and to dedicate our time there, TOGETHER. Some students of the 9th grade A and B from ‘Alexandru Ioan Cuza’ National College decided to decorate the Christmas tree and to bring gifts for the Foreign Language Centre and Reading Room, where this term they have been warmly welcomed almost weekly and so becoming their second house during ‘The library’s eyes’ project. Together with Corina Aiacoboae, Mariana Greculescu and the Foreign Languages Centre Coordinator, Anamaria Cătănoiu, we sang carols, took pictures and decorated the Christmas tree. Now transformed into Santa’s elfs, the students have given to the library more books and then they were delighted with delicious cookies by the librarians.
Mihaela Ştefănescu, IX C: The atmosphere was so nice and I felt just like home. The librarians surprised us with juice and delicious cookies. Decorating the Christmas tree among the books was the most beautiful thing I’ve done. 

Maria Tudose, IX C: The library’s atmosphere fascinated me. We worked as a team to decorate the Christmas tree and I must say the result was great: a sparkling golden-green Christmas tree. Being near the Christmas days, we have done an act of kindness and brought some books for the library.   

Ana-Maria Teodorescu, IX C: Today I really felt the Christmas holiday atmosphere, though there is no snow.

Andreea Stratulă, IX C: The only different thing that remains the same each year is the Christmas. It is magic, the Christmas tree, the carols, the snow, everything… The smell of these holidays is feeling in the library as well. The sparkling of the tree among the books touched all our souls: colourful globes, the gifts, the bells, the carols, each of these represent a word to define the story of Christmas that we read year after year. We played with tinsel and bells, decorating each other in the the funniest ways, joking and forgetting about our everyday life, becoming children more than we had been before. Childhood and Christmas are words that give to our souls a power that will never disappear. 

Raluca Lupu, IX C: Jesus’ Birth is approaching slowly and along with this holiday the children prepare with all their souls, bringing to the library a part of their heart: a book.   

Irina Urloiu, IX C: Our pictures describe the fantasy of this day… Look! 

Lavinia Constantin, IX C:  While decorating the Christmas tree everything felt more lightly and happy.  

Alexandru Năstase, IX B: Decorating the tree, we felt the Christmas’s spirit along with my mates. The books I offered were with all my heart so others can read them as well.

Preda Ciprian, IX B:  It was a special event and I wish to, of course, to repeat.

(prof. Ana-Maria Norocea-Cornilă) 
Translated by Oana Zlatovici - volunteer

santa's presents

Santas work in team

we decorate the tree

We are happy

We decoreate ourselves too

So many presents

This is how it looks in the end

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

“The library’s eyes” and old books

On Friday, 2nd of December, at 11 o’clock, after a looong holiday…of a day, we continued our activities concerning the project. This time we decided to rediscover the charm of old books, to explore publishers (some being unique) from long time ago, to redefine the relationship with time that ages not only the people, but also the books that instead doesn’t lose their value. A yellow and removed page, a faded cover represents the fact that the book makes a tribute for the passing time and the readers’passion. (Prof. Ana-Maria Cornilă-Norocea)   

Participants: Seven 9th grade students from Alexandru Ioan Cuza National College (the others enjoyed the holiday until 1 o’clock in the afternoon, when the classes started).

Maria Tudose, IX C: Old and broken books made me sad at first, but the librarians explained us how valuable they are and how we can improve them. To me, the library remains the most beautiful universe.
Ana-Maria Teodorescu, IX C: I was impressed by the experience at the library, because I felt it as being back in time through the yellow and shrivelled pages. No matter how it looks, the book imprints in the reader’s soul the alphabet of knowledge and imagination.
 Lavinia Constantin, IX C: The cold of the winter has evaporated in the presence of the lights and books (and of course in front of the librarians: Ms. Anamaria Catanoiu, Ms. Nicoleta Oprisan and Ms. Gogu Irimita)

Mihaela Ştefănescu, IX C: I noticed at the library the fact that not every book retains the external beauty. We tried to capture in pictures the books from the old editions to the newest. The atmosphere was magnificent as always, including the librarians as well.

Raluca Mirabela Lupu, IX C: The book is your heart and your soul. Your mirror. If you break it just because you don’t care or because your indifference, you also scratch your mirror. If you keep it in the dark, you toss and close your own heart. Free yourself from ignorance, give freedom also to your book and love them, and last but not least, READ them.

Translated by Oana Zlatovici - volunteer 
Read ...and re-read

Comfortably...reading a book


Us and the book


The eye in the library

A sea of books

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Volunteer’s International Day

To you, our library’s volunteers, a warm thank you for all your support offered all these years. Without you, the soul of the library would be empty…. You are our best and faithful friends, with you we created a real family, here at the library. Together we work, we have fun, we discuss, we eat, we sing carols... we are together for good and for worse. You are an example of community interest, selflessness, common and social consciousness. You are the big shout for the future, for a new society that would make us feel proud of you and proud to live in. Vrancea has a future… we have faith.

Volunteering at the Foreign Languages Centre
2007- The setting up of the Foreign Languages Centre with the help of the American volunteer of the Peace Corps, Erich Bleich
2008-2010 – Decorating and arranging the new space of Foreign Languages Centre with the help of the volunteers
2008-2010 – The support of the volunteers in the specialized activities (of the library)
2008 – 2010 Free of charge and diverse activities and clubs, coordinated by special people, the Centre’s volunteers, American volunteers of the Peace Corps and international partners
2011 – The Foreign Languages Centre’s blog translation into English language exclusively by volunteers coordinated by the American volunteer, Stephen Hallstrom.

Volunteering at the Children and Youth Library
1st of June 2010
The social project Childhood – A road of priorities written together with six young volunteers received financing from ‘Dinu Patriciu’ Foundation.
Through this project, we wanted to offer a fairy-tale like day for 70 children who never been celebrated and who almost never left their home, situated at about 45 km near Focsani. The team was called Seven words – of six volunteers and seven librarians.
The Readers Club, the Painting Club, the Photography Club, the Internet surfers Club, the Club for play and games.
The librarians of the Centre coordinate the clubs for Kids and Teens and these are two hours each day with the help of volunteer students and teachers who offer help in this holiday program. For the last editions, there have been over 100 kinds between 5 and 17 years old. 
2009 – The Photography Club -
Set up through eFOTOgrafi@mea project, who initiated free photographing courses for users.
Volunteer – the photographer from Vrancea, Gabi Oanes – The kids learnt how to edit the pictures in order to post them on different websites or blogs.
2011 – Projects Management for high school students – at the LIBRARY
A course created and taught by Margareta Tătăruş and Nicoleta Oprisan, the County Library’s trainers and the volunteers such as Alina Tudose, a sociologist with 5 years of experience in the Project Management in Romania, Germany and USA.
1st of June 2011 – Adventure, knowledge, mistery – activities for kids coordinated by volunteers.
Ovidiu Opait, a volunteer of Vrancea County Library – in 2010 he painted the hall of the multimedia room, donated pictures representing the life and the work of Duiliu Zamfirescu for the library from Tivoli and in 2011 he donated to the library the portrait of Duiliu Zamfirescu.

(Anamaria Cătănoiu – Foreign Languages Centre Coordinator)
Translated by Oana Zlatovici - volunteer

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Librarian of the Year from Vrancea at the Education Awards 2011

Just me

I found myself among the finalists when I expected less or not at all. I candidate for the Education Awards organized by ‘Dinu Patriciu’ Foundation. I tried my luck for ‘The librarian of the year’ section, as I represent ‘Duiliu Zamfirescu’ Vrancea County Public Library, where I have been working for eight years, and…

It is the third year since ‘Dinu Patriciu’ Foundation from Bucharest organizes these Education Awards at a national level, on different sections: The Teacher of the Year, The School of the Year, The NGO of the Year etc., trying to promote people, institutions, and projects, truly special. It is a commendable project that promotes values ​​that are often hiding behind ordinary people.

It is the second year when the application is available for The Librarian of the Year and for the first time, I must admit, since I gave importance to this event. I applied for it, so to say, with the left hand… I didn’t think I could win. I didn’t even imagine I could pass the first stage – The eligible candidatesletting alone the fact that I reached the second stage – The finalists, and giving an interview for the jury in Bucharest and participate in the Awards.

The epic – briefly. I looked on the Foundation’s website:, I created an account and read the contest rules. I completed a form with 5-6 questions, presenting my activity for 2010-2011. I sent the form on-line, but I also had to send it ‘on paper’, signed, having attached all the materials proving my activities: pictures, newspaper articles, website and blog links, PowerPoint presentations, impressions from the readers or volunteers, etc. The period for subscription lasted a few months, from 15th of June to 27th of September.

Short inserts taken from the website of the Foundation, with the agreement of the organizers:
1. Feedback for the participants
Dear participants of the Education Awards 2011,
The fact that you subscribed for the Education Awards, demonstrating that you met and even exceeded the eligibility criteria – a little bit ‘unorthodox’ as some would say – classify you from the start as being passionate for education. How else would you have dared to go through a registration procedure, consuming time and energy that asked you to write all your activities during the year and gather materials in order to demonstrate all your words? That’s why you deserve from the start - ‘Congratulations!’

Yesterday, 27th of September 2011, was the last day for completing the forms for the contest – The 3rd edition of the Education Awards. Most of you, kept us curious until the very last moment…thinking that you will not be able to finish your subscription number of closed accounts and forms filed has been tripled. We are really sorry if you gotthe answers to your questions later than we wanted…Many requests have come in the last hundred meters.

Then, there has been a period of jury, (28th of September - 22nd of October) when the candidates have been chosen, meaning those who had met the requirements for the contest and had all their folders complete and correct. Out of 23 there have been chosen 10 candidates.
Short inserts taken from the website of the Foundation, with the agreement of the organizers:
2.  Eligible candidates for the  Education Awards 2011
Today, 11th of October, we announce the names of the candidates declared eligible for the 3rd edition of the Education Awards contest. Those who find their names on the published list are those who met all the eligible criteria and respected the procedure of subscription  (complete the form online, send it also, signed, at ‘Dinu Patriciu’ Foundation Office until 27th of September, the Post date, send the materials proving the candidate until 7th of October).

The form for the contest of the eligible candidates will be evaluated by the members of the Jury according to the evaluating criterions posted here.      
After this stage, the Jury will name the finalists of each section of the contest. All of them will be announced on 17th of October 2011, in the afternoon, on the website of the contest: 

3. The finalists for the 3rd edition of Education Awards

Today, 17th of October, the Education Awards announce the finalists for the 3rd edition. These are the candidates chosen who – after the on-line evaluation of the forms made by the members of the Jury – received the highest grades for the section they applied for. All those who find their names on the list are asked to come for the interview which will take place in Bucharest between 22-23 October, as it follows:

- 22nd of October: the finalists for the Student of the Year, The University Teacher of the Year, The Pre university Teacher of the Year, The Educator/Elementary school Teacher of the Year, The NGO of the Year in the field of education and The Best Educational Project
- 23rd of October: the finalists for The Student of the Year, The Researcher of the Year and the Librarian of the Year.

All of us took the interview on 23rd of October at the Faculty of History from Bucharest, with the following members of the Jury: Gilda Drăgănescu, the winner of the 1st prize of the last year; Dragoș Neagu, Vice – President of ANBBPR (The Association of the Librarians and Public Libraries) from Romania, and the Director of Brăila County Library; Andrei Roșca, founder of Bookblog – the most important website about books from Romania; Cristian Lupșa, publisher from Decât o Revistă (Just a magazine) and Cătălin Ștefănescu Realizator TVR, who couldn’t be present and has been replaced.

I found the interview as being easy. I wasn’t nervous about it. Even though, in the beginning, I lost myself for a few seconds, I think I succeeded this stage. If I’m wrong…Anyway, the jury wasn’t there to hammer us but they were opened for a normal discussion, as it should be. After the interview we took some pictures for the catalogue of the contest. I think all the finalists will be there with their success stories, but anyway, it has been a lot of fun to feel V.I.P for a few minutes!

In the same time, after announcing the finalists, there has been created a web page on the Foundation website, where to promote our activity and receive votes from our supporters, until 30 of October:
It is the first year when this kind of supporting is introduced. As we were told, the number of the votes has no influence in taking the final decision.
Short inserts taken from the website of the Foundation, with the agreement of the organizers:

4. This year at the Education Awards, the public names the most popular 11 finalists
Today,20th of October 2011, there has been launched the online platform for voting the finalists for the Education Awards – 2011 Edition. This will be available between 20-30 October, and for voting, the option is for the whole public. The 92 finalists of the 11 sections of the contests are present on this platform along with an individual profile aiming to inform the voting public about the most relevant aspects of each candidate.

The number of votes will name for each section a winner – who will receive the Popularity prize, without any link to the prize consisting of money offered by the Education Awards as an evaluation of the Jury, based on the announced criteria in here:
For the votes, the procedure is pretty fast and simple. Those who want to vote have to create an account on and the log in. Immediately after, there can be voted a candidate to each of the 11 sections. After voting, the account can be used exclusively for commenting or contacting the finalists.
The voting platform for popularity was launched for encouraging the finalists to promote their work supplementary.

This is the website for the finalists of The Library of the Year section:
Here you find out all the other sections:

It was an interesting experience, mostly the one with giving votes, because the supporters could post comments and send private messages on the account created on the website of the Foundation. Actually, for me this counted the most and I have considered myself already a winner. Most of those who voted me I don’t even know then and I think they are not even from Vrancea. Of course, the supporters were primarily my friends, my family, the volunteers from the library and my working colleagues and … my friends from other countries. Here, I offer you some of the messages that simply made me cry:
-  You’re such a sweetie… and for all your work you really DESERVE to win… as my vote goes to you and you got all my respect.
     -  Congratulations for everything you do! Whatever it will be, you’re a winner! Good luck!
     -  Good luck, Ana! You really deserve it! Bring another prize for our library! TF
     -   I was born in Adjud, in Vrancea County, and there is no other thought but of course to vote you! Good luck!
     -   Hi Ana, I did it :)) It was pleasure for me to vote for you. Can you let me know the result! Good lucks... Warmly, Dilek
     -  I vote you because you are the BEST!
     -  It has been my pleasure to take one moment and vote for you. Keep up with the good work and stay focused on your future goals. I have no doubt you can get the job done much better than anyone else.
     -  God keep you, Ana! Good Luck!!!
     -  Good, good luck… I really am happy that you applied for it and that you are one of the finalists.
     -  Good luck, Anna, I’m really happy that you’re one of the finalists!
     -   I tried to vote but I'm not sure. Good luck. Muhsin DİLBAZ

For all of those who supported me I sent them a message (I had this possibility as well from my account) that I thought represent me at the best:
Thank you with all my soul for supporting me! It counts enormously that I am on this position. I never thought, but I did it. On the evening of the Awards I’ll be thinking of you and if I’ll be one of the winners I’ll thank you, LIVE. The Awards will be shown on TV and can be watched as well on-line. That’s true, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but is the most beautiful and optimistic beginning. THE SUN RISES EVERY DAY… Ana.

And I really believed and told these simple words with all my soul.

On the 2nd of October, the big even took place, The Education Awards, when the winners have been announced for each section. The event was held at the Union Chamber of the Parliament Palace and it was transmitted on-line on the website of the There has been three prizes, the main prizes, the classics: the 1st, the 2nd and the 3rd prize and this year there has been introduced the Popularity Prize (based on the online voting), to encourage the finalists to promote their work supplementary.

Short insertions taken from the website of the Foundation with the agreement of the organizers:
5. The Education Awards has chosen the winners for the 3rd edition
On Wednesday, in the evening, there have been announced the winners for the 3rd edition of the Education Awards. This event is an annual project initiated by ‘Dinu Patriciu’ Foundation aiming to identify and reward the best examples from the field of education – people, institutions and organizations which – through dedication, originality and passion – contribute to the development of the Romanian school.

This year, The Education Awards offered a prizes totaling 250.000 Euro. Each winner received a diploma and also a prize whose value varied, depending on each section, between 2.000 and 30.000 Euro.

Along with the members of the jury, who presented the awards, there have been also one of the former Presidents of Romania, Emil Constantinescu, the TV presenter, Melania Medeleanu, Radu Gologan – the President of Society of Mathematical Science președintele, Alexandru Mironov – the senior editor of the Science and Technology magazine and Adela Jansen – The executive director for human resources at BRD Société Générale.

Here there are the names of the winners and their prizes:
The librarian of the year:
1.Maria Grancea, The City Library Avrig – Sibiu, 10.000 euro;
2.Claudia Popescu, ‘George Barițiu’ County Library - Brașov, 5.000 euro;
3.Elena Chiaburu, The University Library of the Faculty of Economy and Business Administration, ‘Al. I. Cuza’ University - Iași, 2.000 euro.

Therefore, as you can read, the event was attended by all the finalists from each section, the members of the jury, V.I.Ps, all having a strong connection with… education. All of us walked on the red carpet of the Parliament’ stairs and entered in a room where, for four hours, as long as the ceremony lasted, I admired the wonderful architectural setting. At the entrance we took pictures and on the table we found the catalogue with all the finalists and their success story (the catalogue can be found, I think, also on the website of the Foundation).

The event was opened by the President of the Foundation, Dinu Patriciu, who gave 6 awards of recognition for the contribution to the Romanian educational system development.

Then, it followed the awards for popularity. Then, step by step, the awards for each category  of the contest given by a representative of the jury and a very famous name from the public life For the section ‘The Librarian of the Year’ these awards have been given by Cristian Lupșa, publisher for Decât o Revistă (Just a magazine). The emotions were really high, but each winner talked beautiful. 

The thing that impressed me the most, a little detail that many people might have omitted was the natural alignment of the social categories. There stayed next to each other ordinary people, next to people…less ordinary: students, city librarians, village librarians, teachers from the village, researchers, presidents and directors etc.,all equal in opportunities, each with honors and achievements worthy of recognition and praise.
For me, the most important was not the prize but the experience, the beauty of the competition, people’s love. I demonstrated myself that I can and that I have around me a gold mine: friends. The participation to this event was the best thing. The place, the ambient, the people…a real gift for Christmas! In life the material gain is not everything… and yet…
Why do we forget or ignore the simple things? Why do we always forget or ignore simple people? Why do we ignore or forget about simple words?

P.S. No comment…
 (04.11.2011 10:54:02): Anyway, CONGRATULATIONS!
(04.11.2011 11:38:34): Congratulations, Anuța! It is extraordinary that you got in there, the award is not only about your professionalism but for how well you manage to ‘sell’  yourself … walk your road, ‘cause it’s the good one!!! For us, you're the best
(04.11.2011 17:48): You already know my opinion….You are a fighter and because of this you’re a winner. Congratulations and keep going!

Written by Anamaria Cătănoiu – Foreign Languages Centre Coordinator
Translated by Oana Zlatovici - volunteer

The Union Room for the Awards

A buffet at the entrance

The banner of the Awards

The Parliament

The Union Room

The finalists row

Me, smiling

Dinu Patriciu, president of the Foundation

The presenters

President Adevărul Holding

Emil Constantinescu, former Romanian President

Alexandru Mironov

The Education Awards catalogue

Me, in the Education Awards catalogue

The finalists from the Librarian of the Year section

Cristian Lupsa, editor Decât o Revistă

Me, on the Parliament House stairs

The same place

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Benefits of volunteering - Gruntdtvig Workshop in Messina, Sicily

Anamaria Cătănoiu
Pres.POTPOURRI Association
Coord. Foreign Language Center – Vrancea County Public Library

The whole team
Finding an workshop and application procedures

And so here I am. Trying my chances on a Grundtvig workshop in Messina, Sicily (Italy), running from October 10 to 16, 2011. I applied sending to the organizers, CESV Messina (Centro Servizi per il Volontariato – Volunteering Services Center), my message of interest in the workshop I chose from the Grundtvig Workshop Catalogue 2011 – Lifelong Learning Programme, published on our National Agency website:
I was interested in the topic they proposed for the workshop, “Experiences of Social Commitment: Volunteering and Active Citizenship”, because I myself have a current running program on volunteering and the topic suited my needs perfectly.

I told I represented two institutions that work with and promote volunteers and volunteering: 1. the Potpourri Association, Vrancea County, Romania,which president I am - Potpourri Association is a non-profit organization established in 2009 as an avangarde and non-conformist association. It was founded by young people from all fields of activity wishing to involve actively in the community and to change mentalities. It aims to support all age categories (young people are preffered a little more) and to improve the understanding and practice of concepts as volunteering, European values, social commitment, active citizenship, community involvement, life long learning.
2. the Foreign Language Center I coordinate at “Duiliu Zamfirescu” Vrancea County Public Library, Romania,
The Foreign Language Center was set up in May 2008, after the completion of a one-year and a half international book donation project of sixteen book tones, shared among three county public libraries from Romania. It is the only center of the kind in Vrancea and its activity covers cultural, social, and educational fields and community involvement. The center benefits from the support of generous volunteers, sponsors and donors which sustain the role of the library in the community.)

They sent me applications for both me and Sorin, my husband, who is an active volunteer supporting me in my activities. After a long process of selection, we were both accepted. And then started the work. We had to participate with some presentation materials of our volunteering activity and some descriptions of ourselves. Plus, of course, administrative details for our trip. These presentation materials were posted on a web page of CESV Messina, created especially for the workshop, and the forum where all the participants had to join and meet beforehand and chat: - CESV organization web site

Here you can also find the presentations of our speakers in the workshop, the materials they presented, photos, videos with the participants, daily reports we had to do, newspaper articles with the workshop, the program of our activities, the participant organizations, etc.

Meeting the participants and the organizers

Now that we’ve come to that, I should introduce to you the team from CESV Messina:
Maria Angela Filocamo – workshop coordinator, and Giuseppe, her right hand in everything (smile!)
Rosario Ceraolo - director of CESV
Antonio Mantineo – president of CESV,
and other good fellows that helped us all the time and made our stay perfect.

As for our team of participants, we were 27 from 10 countries. We represented different volunteering associations or teachers that had volunteering projects
Italy – volunteers from other associations in Messina - Ruggiano Salvatore (also our translator, actor, guide, companion, father, best friend!), De Pascalis Valeria, Geresia Maria, Staiti Annamaria, D'Andrea Simona, Finocchiaro Enrico
Portugal - Teixeira Filipa
Romania – Cătănoiu Anamaria, Cătănoiu Sorin, Păduraru Fănica Lenuța
Slovenia - Komadina Nina

We were warmly welcomed in the Royal Palace Hotel, right near the CESV headquarters, that became our Sicilian home for one week, with good food and living conditions.
The program was fullllll! of activities. We didn’t even have the time to visit Messina to much!

Sightseeing around Messina
The glimpse we did caught of the town left a good impression: a wonderful urban architecture, even if Messina was wiped out of the face of the earth by two earthquakes, the Dome with its moving statues every sharp hour, and the roaring lion and singing cock from 12 o’clock, the harbor that was magnificent, important churches and sanctuaries -  Sanctuario Montalto, Cristo Re -, the panoramas of the city from Messina’s highest points.
But that was ok and enough, because the places we visited, the people we met and the things we did and learnt compensated with a lot more than needed! Let alone that I had the chance to see the volcanoes! Even if it was from the distance. Etna and others I forgot the names. They were to many. And their touristic town from the foot of the Etna volcano, Taormina. And many others… At the end of this presentation I will post the program of the workshop just to make an idea…
The first day we spent it at the CESV, introducing ourselves, our activity, meeting the Italian team of CESV, the opening speech of Antonio, the president, other guests from other Sicilian associations (like Dorina Coman, a Romanian established in Sicily, running Totius Mundi Una Domus volunteering association, who also helped with the translations), the press conference and the 30 seconds interviews we all had to film for the website, describing the expectations on the workshop.

All the other days were study visits in the entire Messina region to meet with different associations and foundation that described their activity in volunteering. Good practice examples and very useful for all of us. All the meetings had their share of interactivity, debates, discussions and the presentations of the participants, daily report, activity evaluation for their National Agency, we all had to do. So, we had to work there, not have fun!

Sicilian Traditions
What you don’t see also in this program is the Sicilian traditions we were introduced to and the good food we tasted at every association we visited. We took lunch and dinner on our study visits, eating all kinds of traditional dishes, vegetarian mostly and Mediterranean, with fish, we all appreciated! It was the first time I ate sword fish, Canoli cake, all kinds of good pasta and rice, cous-cous, Tortina a tri sette (a very tasty dish made of three mashed layers -potato, spinach, carrots).
For breakfast always buffet with tea, cappuccino or the famous Granita a caffè or a simple caffè e cornetto, pasticeria (meaning sweets) and fruit.
Sicilians make an event of the dinner time, especially. It is the most important meal of the day, everybody joins around the table, they serve about 3, 4 or 5 courses and talk. Socialization around the table lasts for about 2 to 4 hours! And then you go to sleep, around 11 - 12 or even 1 o’clock in the night! But that is also ok. We had to make the best of every moment spent there, and spent together. You have enough time to sleep at home.

Socialization and friendship
What you also don’t see in this program is the friendship that linked us all together. We became a big, happy family. We worked and had fun as a real team. Maria Angela (Mari) and her boyfriend, Giuseppe, were great! Always natural, funny, helping. If it hadn’t been for their efforts, we wouldn’t have had this chance to see and learn so many new things.
Salvatore was the heart of this team as he is a wonderful intelligent, amusing person, always knowing how to create the perfect atmosphere. Well prepared with information, he served the perfect guide for us and translator. And his amusing remarks and jokes cheered us up every day. His mastery in human nature was best seen in the last day, when he hosted at his association the closing ceremony and dinner..and the surprise he prepared.
Rosario, the director of CESV, who accompanied us in our trips, and who proved to be a wonderful young person, hiding his English and singer talent under a serious mine at the beginning. He came round eventually…he had no choice with crazy participants!
The Italian volunteers who helped Mari and CESV to bring to a happy ending all this effort demanding workshop.
As for me...I learnt Italian!! I wanted to and I had to. I studied it a little bit in college so I put to the test my whole knowledge and remains of memory. Everybody was polite enough to tell me I speak so good...though I was mumbling something between Italian, Spanish and Esperanto sometimes mixed with Romanian. Well, since Rosario didn't speak English so well, as he said at the beginning, and since we didn't always have a translator at hand, I had to play this part from English to Italian and vice verse and to Romanian at the same time. Am I a polyglot or not? The idea is that my efforts were paid in kind and I was able at times to manage to the end of a full correct Italian sentence. Lovely experience, beneficial to my personal development!

Closing ceremony and… last performance
The last evening spent together, we were first at CESV for the final evaluation. Mari made us a beautiful surprise asking all to draw and write whatever we felt about the workshop, with eyes closed. The result you can see it in the photo. Then in a wonderful musical atmosphere she gave each a red clown nose and a ladybug. (She volunteered herself in a program in Romania, with a clown troop, to make disabled children smile!)
The rest of the evening was spent at Salvatore’s association, Auser. Here we had dinner prepared by a Rroma Association from Kosovo and then…theatre. Salvatore is a great play director, with a rich activity in the theatre life and he wrote a short sketch for almost everybody. He and Vyaute presented the show. I was a little girl on a little yellow car asking for my weekly pay, Anna from Poland, a turtle wishing for freedom, Marjut - the turtle savior, Ufuk was Romeo and Felipa, Juliet, Muhsin - the blessing father, Dilek and so on, all with amusing roles we tried to perform as best as possible.
Rosario was the single volunteer for Karaoke, of course that is because he was the only one, besides Salvatore, with worthy voice. And he was really the surprise of the evening in this position. He deserved all our applause.
At the end, Mari, Rosario, and Salvatore gave us all participation certificates and a beautiful gift, a ceramics with the sign of volunteering and a relevant slogan: Volunteers, make a difference!
Pictures, kisses, hugs, goodbyes, tears, promises to keep in contact with each other. Sleeping time: 1 o’clock a.m. Waking time on the departure day: 5 a.m. Well, as I said, I slept at home.

What now?
Now, we go on. The show must go on. Even if the curtain falls, the actors stay behind together. We keep talking to each other on the forum from the CESV site, on e-mail and messenger. We shared photos and we plan for another occasion to meet each other, to visit each other, to work together on projects. This is the beauty of such activities: to go on. And to put into practice the things we learnt.
As for myself and Sorin, this experience strengthen our beliefs about volunteering, its benefits for everybody including ourselves. We are encouraged to go on and support volunteers and volunteering and to find opportunities to volunteer abroad, to really live a different kind of volunteering experience, not in theoretical terms, but in practice.
So, our message to the world: BE VOLUNTEERS, MAKE A DIFFERENCE!

Here is our schedule, as promised, just to make an idea of our Sicilian working holiday.

Le forme dell'impegno sociale: volontariato e cittadinanza attiva
October 10-16, 2011
Messina, Sicily - Italy

Lunch and/or dinner at Royal Hotel

9:00 - 9:30: meeting in the hall of Royal Hotel and walk to Workshop Venue: CESV Messina
10:00 -11:00: workshop official opening ceremony and press conference
prof. Antonino Mantineo, CESV Messina president
prof. Dario Careniti, Messina's Councilor for Family Policy, multi-ethnic
integration and social services.
dott. Rosario Ceraolo, CESV Messina director

11:00- 13:00: working session
Participants' introduction
CESV Messina Staff introduction
Cesv Messina Organization (Maria Angela Filocamo, project Coordinator)
13:00- 14:30: lunch (organized by Rapanui Fair Trade Shop, Association 7000)
14:30 - 17:30: Training session on
"Volunteering, Social commitment and active citizenship" Introduction to the workshop (Maria Angela Filocamo) "Volunteering and active citizenship: the different forms of solidarity" (Rosario Ceraolo, CESV Messina Director)
Participants' dossiers
Volunteer Organizations contributions
Daily report and introduction to the day after topic

18:30: bus (in front of the Hotel) to Workshop venue: Bottega Rapanui, Association 7000

19:00- 20.30 Study visit on "Ethically oriented and sustainable consumption"
Welcome cocktail
"Responsible consumption and models of social enterprise against criminality" (Associazione 7000 volunteers)
Intercultural dinner (organized by Rapanui Fair Trade Shop)
    22:30: back to the Hotel by bus


9:30: bus ( in front of the Hotel) to Workshop Venue: Consorzio SOLE", Forte Petrazza

10:00-12:00 training session on 
"Fight against mafias and all forms of criminal organizations and corruption"

"Mafia, Missed Development and culture of legality"
dott. Salvatore Rizzo ( CESV expert on promotion of voluntary work )
Participants' dossiers
Working groups
12:00- 13:00: study visit on "Local development and social inclusion"  
13:00- 14:30: lunch (organized by Rapanui Fair trade Shop)
14:30: back to the Hotel by bus

16:30: bus (in front of the hotel) to Workshop Venue: Disio Hosteria (Villafranca)
17:30 - 19:30 Training session on "Ethically oriented and sustainable consumption"

"Life Styles and Cultural Heritage: The New Ethical Choices " prof. Fabio Mostaccio (Political Science Faculty, Messina University)
Participants' dossiers
Daily report and introduction to the day after topic

19:30- 20:30 : study visit on "Model of youth enterprise"

20:30- 22:30: dinner at Disio Hosteria, slow food restaurant managed by Magna Sicilia, youth cooperative

22:30: back to the Hotel by bus

Workshop Venue: CESV Messina

8:30- 9:30: participants' administrative fulfillments

9:30- 11:00 working session
Participants' dossiers

11:00- 13:00: leisure activity
Visit to the Cathedral and short sightseeing, guided by prof. Salvatore Ruggiano 13:30- 14:30 lunch (CESV, organized by Rapanui Fair Trade Shop)

16:30: bus (in front of the hotel) to Milazzo (ME) and leisure activity: sightseeing of Milazzo
Workshop Venue: Mediterranima Slow food restaurant founded by Soc.Coop. Settima Stella
 18:00- 20:30: training session on "Local development and social inclusion" with study visit
Francesco Giunta ( Soc. Coop. Utopia, president)
Fabrizio Scibilia ( Soc. Coop. Settima Stella, responsible)
Arch. Antonella Teatino ( "Mille tetti" Photovoltaic project, responsible)
Saro Gugliotta (Condotta Valdemone Messina fiduciary, -slow food)
Nuccia Formica ( AVULSS Milazzo Association, president)
Padre Pippo Insana ( CASA Association, president )

20:30-22:30: dinner at Mediterranima

22:30: back to the Hotel by bus

9:00: bus (in front of the Hotel) to Workshop Venue: Parco Horcynus Orca
9:30-11:30 training session on "Environment protection and valorization" with study visit
"Freedom, citizenship rights and civil economy"
dott. Gaetano Giunta (president of Fondazione di Comunita)

Participants' dossiers 
11:30- 13:30: leisure activity (the Park is situated in the Strait of Messina, between two seas and many legends...)

13:30- 14:30: lunch organized by H.O. Youth cooperative of the network Parco Hocynus Orca  
14:30: back to the Hotel by bus Workshop Venue: Royal Hotel

17:00- 18:30: intermediate workshop evaluation session
18:30-20:30 Training session on "Immigration"
"Discriminations and labour market" (dott. Sergio Villari, University of Messina) Tania Poguish (Migralab Association, president)
Enrico Pistorino (MOV il Ponte Association, responsible for immigrants sector) 
Migrants organizations contributions

20:30 dinner (organized by Royal Hotel)

9:00: bus ( in front of the Hotel) to Workshop Venue: Forte San Iachiddu
10:00- 12:00: training session on "Environment protection and valorization" with study visit
"Geo-philosophy and educational activities"
prof. Sandro Gorgone ( University of Messina, Soc coop. SCIRIN president) 
Volunteer Organizations contributions

Participants' dossier
12:00- 13:30: excursion to Monti Peloritani
13:30- 15:00: lunch organized by Soc. Coop. Scirin
15:30: back to the Hotel by bus
Workshop Venue: Royal Hotel
17:00: working session
daily reports
18:00: city centre promenade to Workshop Venue: Genio Civile ( Civil Engineer Corps)
18:30- 20:30: study visit on "Environment protection and valorization" organized by
F.A.N.GO. Organization (with artistic performance and many other surprises)

Eng. Gaetanao Sciacca (Head of Genio Civile) arch. Giuseppe Aveni (Azienda Forestale Demaniale)
Maestro Carmelo Citraro ( F.A.N.GO.) Gabriella Raffa and dott. Davide Mangiapane (F.A.N.GO. projectors)
20:30: city promenade to the Cathedral Square
21:00: Dinner ( Pizza at "Campanile Restaurant" ) and walk back to the hotel

8:30: bus (in front of the Hotel) to Workshop venue: Francavilla di Sicilia (ME) 9:30-11:30: excursion to Parco Fluviale dell'Alcantara  
Workshop Venue: Casa Famiglia "L'Eccezione''( home hosting people with psychiatric disadvantages) 
11:30- 13:30: training session and study visit on
"Volunteering, Social commitment and active citizenship study" Giuseppe Bucalo (Penelope Association, president )
Volunteers Contributions
Participants' dossiers
13:30 -15:00: lunch organized by Penelope Association  
15:00: back to the Hotel by bus Workshop Venue: Royal Hotel
19:00 - 21:00 working session
Workshop conclusion
 final evaluation

Workshop Venue: CESV Messina
21:00: Closing ceremony
21:30: farewell dinner organized by Baktalo Drom (association for the promotion of Roma Rights)


P.S. And here is an example of the daily reports we had to do in teams. I publish the one Sorin, Olga and Danuta and I had to do in the very first day of the workshop.

Daily report
Monday, 09.Oct.2011

      In the morning there was the meeting with all the participants in the hall of the Royal Hotel. Then we all went to the headquarters of the CESV Messina where we held the majority of our activities.
     The workshop was officially opened by the representatives of the CESV, the president prof. Antonino Mantineo, the director Rosario Ceraolo, project coordinator Maria Angela Filocamo who presented their welcome speech in the presence of the mass-media (there was also a press conference with the direction of the CESV), a volunteer from another Association AUSER of Messina, Salvatore Ruggiano, who made the historical and cultural presentation of the city and Dorina Coman, translator and member of Totius Mundi Una Domus Association from Messina who helped with the translations, prof. Idris, Leone Fabio, president from AIS Sicily Onlus, Gabriella Raffa, David Mangiapane and Michele Cannaò from FANGUS Association, they all introduced themselves and spoke about their activities.
      All the participants introduced themselves after words, saying a few things about themselves about the experience they have on volunteering and about the expectations they have on the workshop (sharing experiences, learning more about volunteering, making new friends and contacts for possible partnerships, and so on).
       Maria Angela Filocamo, project coordinator, introduced the staff of the CESV Messina and then made a Power Point presentation about the way the volunteering centers and activity is organized and function in Italy and about the CESV organization in Messina. Rosario initiated a debate about how the volunteering activity is organized in the participants’ countries.
     After the morning activities, during the lunch time we established the teams for the daily reports and the participants gave a short interview introducing themselves and the expectations on the workshop.
Lunch was provided by Rapanui Fair Trade Shop, Association 7000, and was an occasion for discussion among participants, relaxation, jokes, and intercultural contacts.
     After lunch there was the training session on “Volunteering, Social commitment and Active citizenship” were the participants presented their dossiers. The discussion was opened by Rosario’s presentation on “Experiences of social commitment, volunteering and active citizenship” from the civil, political and social point of view. He spoke about citizenship, and citizen rights, development of freedom and welfare state.
    Then followed the presentations of the representatives from Latvia, Turkey, Lithuania and Romania.  Everybody spoke about volunteering in their own countries, in general terms and statistics, and then gave examples about the volunteering activities in their institutions and how they promote this concept of volunteering. They prepared power points, they accessed internet links with spots and songs and video clips trying to be as original and explicit as possible.
      In the evening we went on a study visit on “Ethically oriented and sustainable consumption” at the Rapanui Fair Trade Shop, Association 7000, where we talked about “Responsible consumption and models of social enterprise against criminality”. Valentina and Enriko presented the association and its activity and then we debated all on the biologic and fair trade products, healthy food, giving examples of our own countries. Then we visited the shop and received explanations on the fair trade hand made products.
    The night ended with an intercultural dinner where we served Sicilian traditional food from Messina (we asked about the recepies!). Toni and the staff from Rapanui were very hospitable. Everybody felt good and the atmosphere was really ….intercultural! (report written by Ana, Sorin, Olga, Danuta)

Tuesday, 11 Oct. 2011

On the second day we left the hotel at 9h30 to our Workshop venue, to Consorzio Sole which is in Forte Petrazza.

The topic was explained by Doc.Salvatore Rizzo (CESV expert on promotion of volunteer work). He is also working in the Forte Petrazza, which is an old fort initially build and used for military proposes. The fort get useless for this activity and mafia took advantage of the geographic position of the place and used it for their criminal activities, like for storing weapons and dangerous material (amiant). The forte is located on a hill next to Messina. The access to the fort is difficult, which make it easier to control it.

Years later, the building was confiscated to the Mafia and passed to local community. The space of the Forte was cleaned and restored by members and volunteers of Consorcio Sole, that keep on continuing its social aims. Forte is used by different social enterprises like Radio Street and for social and cultural events. The main objective of this activities is to promote the Forte like public space, open to the community (eg: concerts, workshops, adult and child training, etc.).

The training session of the day “ Fight against mafias and all forms of criminal organizations and corruption” was specific related to the activities of Mafia, made possible for the miss development and the culture of legality in Sicily. He began his presentation with three tragic stories which are the real examples of the mafia power and control in the local community.

After the training session and conversation we had lunch provided by Rapanui Fair Trade Shop (Tiramisu like all the rest of the food was wonderful!!!! ) we returned to Messina. We had some free time to get ready to visit Villafranca for the second training session which was held in Disio Hosteria.

Disio Hosteria it’s a slow food restaurant run by group of friends. The director introduced us the philosophy of the “slow food” and their own restaurant where they have created a “home for friends”. Another cofounder prof. Fabio Mostaccio from Political Science Faculty of Messina University presented us the results of his study about the fair trade and ethical consumption. The evening continued with slow- delicious- unbelievable- unforgettable- gourmet- dinner accompanied by good wine and friends.

(Filipa, Egle, Gamze, Nina, Sadik)

Wednesday, 12 Oct. 2011

In the first part of the day in the morning session there were representatives who presented volunteering in their countries.

First speakers were Anna, Marta and Danuta from Poland. Their presentation was about volunteering in Poland and they described one organisation which helps disabled people (blind and deaf).

The second presentation was about volunteering in Sweden. Katia mentioned the biggest volunteering organisation like The Sweedish Red Cross and about Svalorna.

The next presentation was about Finland volunteering (Marjrut). Volunteering situation is quite similar to Sweedish situation. 75%-80% of Finnish population are members of voluntary organisation.

The next one is Slovenia presentation from Nina. She told about Slovenia Philantropy which is the most active organization to promote volunteering,

The last is presentation from Dilek, one of the representative from Turkey. She told about Genctur – an organization International Voluntary work camps and Yasom. In Turkey, there is only5% volunteering in the total population.

Before lunch we visited to the cathedral and made short sightseeing, guided by prof. Salvatore Ruggiano. Lunch was organized by Rapanui Fair Trade Shop at CESV.

The biggest event of the day were sightseeing of Milazzo where we can admire very amazing panoramas like two seas and old climate castel.

In this beautiful places they were six presentation about local development and social inclusion from:

- Francesco Giunta

- Fabrizio Scibilia

- Arch. Antonella Teatino

- Saro Guliotta

- Nuccia Formica

- Padre Pippo Insana

Dinner at Mediterranima was very tasty, fast and slow (as we were told). After dinner everybody was happy and Salvatore was singing us on the way to the hotel (it’s beautiful and funny). We enjoyed a lot. At about midnight back to the hotel and fell asleep quickly and had nice and cheerful day. The next day…. (but it’s another story :p ).

(Anna, Marta, Dins, Ufuk, Annamaria)

Thursday, 14 Oct. 2011

Morning Session

Today our group visited Parco Horconymus Orca, and were given a lecture on Freedom, citizenship righta and civil economy by Dr Gaetano Giunta, President of Fondazione Communita de Messina. Mr Giunta pointed out that classical economic models (such as Simon Kuznets’ theory that inequality will first rise in the initial stages of economic development and then begin to decline as nations urbanize and industrialize) have all failed to distribute the fruits of economic growth and to create welfare equally to all groups in the society. Economic, social and cultural inequality hinders both human and economic development.

The foundation is promoting forms of social economy , solidarity and human development. It has formed a social cooperative that has invested in renewable energy (Marine power and solar panels). The profits from the sale of this energy are used for employing people from the criminal asylum with lowered working capacity. This example shows us how it is possible to promote social inclusion by operating outside the logic of the market.

After the session we made a tour of the park facilities and saw two art exhibitions. We also learned about the unique nature of the straits of Messina. Our lunch was organized by H.O. Youth Cooperative of the Parco Horconymus Orca. Here we are relaxing and waiting for our lunch on the beach.

Evening Session

The second working group session of the day was about discrimination in the labour market by Dr. Sergio Villari from the University of Messina. Discrimination means the exclusion of some groups (ethnic, sec, religion) from the distribution of social goods. Gender discrimination is a group of attitudes that keep alive an asymmetric division of social labour. Racial discrimination is unfair treatment of groups because of their cultural characteristics. Race, in fact, is not an empirical category but a social and cultural construct, an invention by a racist person wanting to justify his attitude and political implications. Race creates a hierarchical structure of social groups. Positive discrimination means the favoring a group based on this construct.

Discimination consists of biographic, social, structural and legal factors. For example, migrant women are discriminated against based on several factors, and often face double, triple or quadruple discrimination.

Biographic: theory of human capital claims immigrants have insufficient human capital (education, language) to succeed in the host society. Critique: second gen immigrants have the same problems. This theory has been abandoned.

Social: the theory of social capital explains discrimination by the migrants not being able to mobilize economic, cultural and social resources that would improve their or their children’s lives. However, also the surrounding society needs to be considered when analyzing causes for discrimination, not just the migrants resources. Structural factors also have a role to play.

Structural: functioning of the labour market. Migrants are often discriminated in the labour market: they receive more precarious jobs with lower salaries, worse working conditions and opportunities for promotions. Labour demand: stereotypes that immigrants are suited for certain types of jobs. Halo effect occurs when employers extend their prejudices to an entire group of migrants. The working conditions and career paths of migrants are also different from the natives’. They face inferior job classifications, unfair distribution of tasks and shifts or contracts, irregular work, and overrepresentation of immigrants in certain types of tasks. There may also be a glass ceiling that hinders their career development. Trade unions initially tried to restrict entrance of immigrants into the job market, then promoted equality of treatment, equality of opportunities and in the fourth phase this would extend to the globaöl level. The 2nd and 3rd phases in Italy only within the last 10 years.

Legal factors: Citizenship laws may limit the migrant’s rights. Residence permit in Italy, are temporary and based on documented job stability. Irregularity, uncertainty may lead to blackmail and exploitation of the immigrants.

The second speaker talked about the discursive practices and power in the treatment of Senegalese and Bangladeshi street vendors in Pisa. According to the speaker, this issue, instead of handling it as a question of trade regulations, is treated in the media within the discourse of

security which arose in the 1990s in the context of Neo-liberalism. These discursive practices lead into the division of public space into areas for the wealthy and “no-go” areas, a “Punitive City”. All this raises the question of economic liberalism’s concept of freedom – Freedom, yes, but for whom?

Enrico Pistorino, member of the MOV il Ponte Association, talked about the House don Orione of Messina whose task is to receive immigrants and help them to find a job, arranging with them personalized projects of integration. Volunteer’s work and private donations are really important for running the House since the local government’s action is carried out only in presence of great fluxes of immigration which cause a situation of emergency and because of the lack of public funds available. Volunteers are involved in cooking and cleaning and do their best to give information, support and suggestions to migrants who look for a job. Unfortunately there are only few beds in the House and sometimes it could happen that some immigrants are excluded till a place become available. Anyway, the volunteers are always open to give hospitality to some of them, not letting anyone sleep outdoors.

The last speaker was Idriss Elshafie who comes from Sudan and who works for one of the three main Italian trade union organizations called Cgil. He arrived in Italy in 1986 to study and became a member of the African students’ Union. He understood very soon that Italian laws on immigration are characterized by a good deal of confusion since Italian government has tried many times to regulate such a delicate subject. Idriss began his work as volunteer in hospitals and in prisons where he helped foreigner people who spoke only the Arabian languages to communicate with the Italian public operators working there. His task was to translate from a language to another but actually he acted also as a intercultural mediator, trying to prevent immigrants from being discriminated. Today he’s still committed to promote and guarantee immigrants’ rights but mostly in the field of labour market.

The day was very informative and interesting, though we think some of the evening presentations were quite theoretical. We also got to enjoy the beautiful nature of the straits of Messina.

(Katja Frösen, Hanna Salokannel,Vytaute Murinaite, Valeria De Pascalis)

Friday, 14 Oct. 2011

Workshop venue: Fort Saint Jachiddu

We visited Fort Saint Jachiddu in the morning. It is an ecological park and a fortress building restored by Social Co-operative Scirin. The president of the co-op Sandro Gorgone introduced the morning topic of ”Geo-philosophy and educational activities”.

The name of the fort refers to Maria’s father and there may have lived a hermit called Saint Jachiddu in the place, but there is no proof of this. The fort was built in the 19th century and abandoned. The co-op restored part of the building in the end of the 1990’s but there was not enough money to complete the restoration. The fort is surrounded by green area where the co-op has created nature trails and organizes educational activities. The fort offers a good place for cultural events like theatre performances, concerts and art workshops like pottery making. There is an accommodation for 8 people in one of the buildings and they also offer meeting facilities, a small chapel, wrought iron museum and a library.

The co-op Scirin promotes Saint Jachiddu and nearby mountain area. They offer guided tours and there are informative boards on the nature trails. The most attractive natural event is the migration of birds from South. This happens every spring and many birds can be seen passing the area among them storks and flamingoes.

The target of the Scirin co-op has been to transform the old fort which is associated with war activities into a place of peace, peace with nature as well as peace among people. Good example of this is the old ammunition storage that has been transformed into a chapel. There are 8 people working in the co-op pr which 6 have another job.

Fort itself belongs to the municipality and they need to have a good relationship with the municipality. Scirin has received some money to restore the building, but there has been a lot of voluntary work involved. Sandro tells that they dream to promote ecological and cultural tourism in the area, even have some horses and donkeys to transport people. So far they are facing a lot of challenges; only few people appreciate the place and come to visit, few schools come with groups, but there is no public transportation to the fort and the road is very bad. They can’t have activities in the fort during the winter as it is very humid and cold.

After the introduction we walked one of the nature trails and took a look at the magnificent view over Messina in 300 meters above the sea level. We also got to taste some local berries and we were introduced to cork oak tree and other typical plants of the area.

Sandro Gorgone is also an assistant professor of philosophy in the University of Messina and he told us about geo-philosophy, which is philosophy of man living on earth. Geo-philosophy aims to a plurality of great spaces that can break the uniformity of the world, in which we live. According to this philosophy each landscape has a soul and each place exist both physically and spiritually. In a landscape three elements are joined: memory (history, stories etc.), symbolic and spiritual sense of direction and identity.

Sandro showed us photos of Italian landscapes that were typically Italian and easily recognized as Italian landscape. He talked about how crisis of rural world leads into crisis of the environment.

Agriculture should preserve the landscape and this is in his mind sustainable development. Modern agriculture has created landscapes that are no longer specific for the area, they all look the same wherever they are in the world. According to geo-philosophy quality landscapes are crucial for the well-being of people and we must protect local landscape.

Sandro also urged us that we need to go back to nature, but not in idyllic or nostalgic way. We need to recognize ourselves in the nature and live in peace with the nature.

After the lunch, excellent affair from Rapanui, Olga and Dins gave a presentation of environmental projects in Latvia. They told us about project Footprints and the Clean up day. This clean up day is an annual event that has been organized for 3 years now. Their target is to be the cleanest country in the world. This is a good challenge as Latvians have a lot of picnics during summer and many times leave their garbage in the forest and the beaches. In this year’s clean up Latvian collected nearly 3000 tons of trash, which was some what less than previous year. They thought that this was a good sign. That maybe Latvian’s have learned to be more tidy and there is less garbage to be collected.

In the 2012 there is an aim to get 100 countries join this Clean up day campaign. Already 60 countries have signed up. Finland and Italy were among the countries that have also done this activity in the past. You can read more about this activity

Marjut and Hanna from Finland presented their experiences in volunteering in environmental projects. Marjut had started a volunteer agency in 2008 that recruits volunteers to different animal

and nature projects around the world. She shared her motivations doing this. Hanna then told about her volunteer experience in Finland and joining project that Marjut has promoted on her website

Dilek from Turkey shared her thoughts about social entrepreneurship. She told us a story about creatures that lived in the river and clung to rocks so that they would not be swept away by the current. One of these creatures was very bored with this kind of life and started to think that he would like to let go and see what happens, so he told others about his plans. Other creatures called him a fool and told him that he would die if he let go. But he decided to let go anyway and was lifted up by the current. As he was taken past other creatures below, they saw him and were amazed by this creature that could fly. They called him a savior and asked to help them. He told them that he was going on an adventure and they could come if they just let go. But they did not believe him and kept calling him to help, but then he was already gone. Still the creatures in the river tell stories about the savior.

Dilek told about two projects in Turkey. Mikado consulting that has “The future is now bright” project which enables e-mentoring between students and professors. They have created an online sharing platform with talkrooms that are monitored by Mikado team.

Another project is by artist Nuri Kaya. There are photographs taken by blind people and then local writers have written stories to accompany them. They are exhibited on the street where the stories are written in blind writing and photos can be seen. Then the blind and seeing person can interact and talk about the story and the photo. Funding to this project comes from dinner in the pitch black.

Seeing people enjoy dinner and a performance in a darkness. They can’t see anything and thus experience how it is to be blind.

In the evening we visited the office of Genio Civile (Civil Engineer Corps) which hosts the Museum of FANGO. Fango is an organization that was formed after the disaster of 2009 when a tropical storm caused a mud slides and floods in villages near by Messina and caused a death of 37 people. FANGO art collection was started by a writer Dario Fo, a Nobel literature prize winner of 1997, that donated a painting. Now the collection has about 350 art pieces from 220 artists from Italy and around the world. FANGO is a modern art museum that does not have a building, rather the art is exhibited in the public office. FANGO and Genio Civile have a common project, called Montagna ad Arte in which they want to create a mountain of art and place the art pieces together with the civil engineering works in the area where the floods happened. The idea is to pay attention to the security aspects, but also help the villages in the area to create their own identity. They have proposed the project for EU funding as about 350-400 million euros are needed to secure the area.

They also want to raise awareness within the local population about the importance and protectionof nature.

(Marjut, Salvatore, Mushin,Mara)

Personal notes from Marjut:

For me this day was very interesting. I connected the geo-philosophy to the work that FANGO is doing and what I learned this day made me think of many things and possibilities for my work in Thailand as I am working in a village that was build after the Tsunami of 2004. I can’t call it a community as they do not yet have a common identity and they have in many ways lost more than family, friends or houses. The landscape was changed drastically, they were disconnected from their homes for many months and many people have not returned. Now I am thinking about ways to help them to build the identity for the place and for themselves. Some of that has been done already by creating a community centre where the locals can show their traditions and history of the Island.

I was also about 20 minutes away from Messina when the mudslides closed the street. At the time, I was mostly just annoyed that I had to spent extra 3 hours in the bus as we had to go around the area. Later we learned about the casualties of the floods, but only now I really understood what had happened.

So sad it is eager to meet again!
More pictures of this experience on Picasa:

Salvatore translating for us

Salvatore (left) translating 
for Antonio, the president

CESV team in the back and us

Me, Ana Catanoiu, presenting about volunteering

Me again about volunteering 
at the Foreign Language Center

Study visit at Rapanui Fair Trade Association

Study visit at Fort Petrazza, 
with Salvatore Rizzo (middle) an Mari Angela (left)

Panorama from the bus

The singing and moving Dome

Another panorama

Here is the volcano!

With Fabio Mostaccio (left) 
at the Disio Hosteria restaurant

Again Fabio

Us eating at Disio Hosteria

Sword fish, perfectly arranged

The famous Messinese statue

Smoking volcano again

Splendid night panorama at the Milazzo castle

Giuseppe, Mari's boyfriend (left), Mari Angela (coordinator), me and Sorin, my husband

Forte San Iachiddu - me and Fanica from Romania

Sickle Sicily - panorama from Cristo Re

Final evaluation with red clown noses at CESV

Our feelings about volunteering
- blindfolded drawings
Salvatore on the stage and Vyaute

Tortina a tri sette

The closing ceremony with certificates (Olga, right)