Pe 21 august 2015 o echipă entuziastă formată din 10 persoane tinere cu anii sau cu inima se pornea de pe teritoriile românești spre Bremen, Germania unde aveau să se întâlnească cu un grup francez și un grup german la fel de entuziast spre a avea parte de aventura minunată ce s-a dovedit a fi schimbul de tineret Urban Gardening for Immigrants and Others – Participating in Environmental Politics.
Suntem încântați să postăm impresii la un an și 3 luni după primul nostru schimb internațional de tineret. A trecut un timp în care am reflectat, ne-am recules și am concluzionat.
În decursul a 9 zile grupul a vizitat și lucrat în diferite proiecte de grădinărit urban, comunitar, fermă/antreprenoriat social, având posibilitatea atât să își arate abilitățile și cunoștințele, cât și să învețe de la localnici. A avut loc un schimb foarte frumos de emoții, cunoștințe, experiențe, cuvinte și valențe personale și profesionale. Atmosfera generală a fost una colaborativă, amuzantă, unită, oferind fiecărui participant un sentiment de apartenență.
În plus, am învățat despre legislația referitoare la refugiați și situația acestora în fiecare din țările participante, despre politici referitoare la grădinărit urban, mai ales în Germania, am pășit pe fundul mării retrase observând vietăți ale mării și chiar un pui de focă salutându-ne perseverent :).
Proiectul a fost sponsorizat prin programul Erasmus+ Mobilități de tineret, având numărul 2015-1-DE04-KA105-012200.
Coordonatorul proiectului a fost ÖkoStadt Bremen e.V. din Germania având alături colaboratorii Asociația Educon Vaslui din România și Asociația Piste Solidaires din Franța.
“Over all I consider the youth exchange to have been a rich and valuble experience. Here are some details about it:
I have learned more about the refugee situation in Europe and in the world. I have better understood how social mechanisms can improve life quality.
I was impressed by the effect of gardens on human beings’ lifes over all, and also touched by the willingness and ability to empathize that people manifest, in order to help those in need.
I understood how social and economical mechanisms can make a garden be self sustainable.
My expectations were not fully met. I expected more non-formal means of education, as in learning through games and activities(and I am not talking about energizers here), having more debates on the topics of the workshop. I enjoyed the whole experience but I found it light-weight as far as content goes. The garden activities themselves were good, varied experiences, but the information, knowledge and opinion exchange I expected more from the workshop. The trip to the North Sea I enjoyed and appreciate the organizers’ consideration to plan it.
The exchange was usefull, I am greatful for getting to know the local socio-economic context in Bremen, people from varied backgrounds (we had a lovely group!), and especially people that made the refugee situation real for me, being able to sit face to face with this reality.
Thank all of you for your tremendous effort to put this together!”
“A little bit of Bremen….
The reason why I decided to get involved in this exchange was that I had little to no knowledge about the situation of refugees in the world.
In our country we don’t talk about it. And it does not make me proud that things are the way they are. I realised that even more when, during one of the workshops, we were asked to discuss the situation of the refugees in our countries. Talking to my fellow Romanian participants I managed to add only a few numbers and incomplete data to my total lack of information. Let me tell you…that was not one of the good days for me.
Albert Einstein used to say that „the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil but by those who watch them without doing anything”. So…what are we doing?
Coming back home I started reading more on the subject so I could say that this is one of the many things I brought back with me from Bremen: the need to know more, to understand more.
Another thing that I still carry with me is the fact that refugees are not just numbers and percentages. They are real people (some of them more real than many people I know, if I am to be fair) with real stories, real flesh and blood and soul human beings striving for a better life.
The first day we arrived we were taken to Arbergen. I must addmit I was a bit nervous because my gardening skills were really not impressive at all but I got a lot of help. Every single person I met there was willing and happy to help. Children, men, women..they were all there..trying to help, working together with us. Many of them did not speak English, many of us did not speak their language or German but we managed to communicate in a language common to all beings- kindness.
We worked and we laughed and we shared so much..and not a word was needed. I remember that day a Syrian dad brought a baby to where we were preparing the ground for building a yurt. I asked for permission to hold the baby because he was smilling at me and he was just adorable. Holding that one year old in my arms felt exaclty like holding any other one year old in your arms. Warm and cuddly and happy..He was not a refugee..he was a baby..a normal, cute, happy baby as all babies should be.And it also felt sad..
The next two days I spent at Knastgewache, a garden that worked like a justice project trying to bring people who have spent some time in prison back to jobs.
We were supposed to spend a day in each of the gardens available but after the first day here I decided that I needed at least another day in this „happy place”, as we called it. There was a sort of serenity and peace that this particular spot would inspire.
Here, we picked up carrots and beans and blackberries and my own personal favorites-potatoes!We also fed the geese and the chickens and we ate fresh tomatoes and some very good honey. People here were so calm and kind and there were always things to be done and I think I could have spent an entire week there and not be bored or tired. But then again…I would not have met Sam and the refugees at Ubersector.
At Ubersector we really had so much fun building a pergola and making tables and benches for the small garden they have there. It was so nice having people coming all the time and asking „ Can I help?” . Things seemed THAT easy…”Can I help?” . What more can you wish for?
Not only we worked together and made some great things together but we also heard some very special stories that I will never forget. Stories about brave, determined people willing do do whatever it takes to bring their families to a safe place, young, highly motivated people travelling the world just to get where they needed to be.
Hearing people share their experiences opened my heart and my mind and made me realise I often take the things I have for granted, that I complain too much and do too little and that I can do more with less.
There are really not enough words to thank every single one of the people I met during this workcamp. I learned just a little bit from everyone and I brought home with me just a liitle bit of all of you. “
“O experiență nouă în care am întâlnit oameni minunați. Am schimbat informații, am legat noi prietenii, am descoperit și am înțeles lucruri noi.
Am oferit informații și experiență, am primit informații și am învățat din experiența altora, am înțeles concepte pe care le-am întâlnit pentru prima data – grădini urbane sociale-, abordări de economie socială.
Participanții sunt oameni minunați, deschiși, cu mare dorință de colaborare, comunicare și cu un real talent în voluntariat.
Organizatorii au creat o logistică excelentă, un program deosebit de atractiv în care au îmbinat experiența practică, schimbul de informații și prezentări de exemple, distracții și experiențe ecologice unice.
Mulțumesc tuturor celor ce au făcut posibil acest proiect, participanților, gazdelor și celor cu care am colaborat în proiect.
Sper să ne revedem sănătoși cu cât mai mulți din această experiență.”
“Next time someone will ask me… have you been to a foreign country before? I will answer: there is nothing ‘foreign’ about any country; we are all brothers and sisters! The only barrier to full knowledge and love of each other is language!
In this camp I understood that no matter where you are from, how you look or how you got where you are, as long as you are kind to the one next to you, try to help and accept being helped, you are as welcomed as any other person. The people I met, with which I spent so much time together, socializing and getting to know each other, made me forget about the problems I have with myself, the problems others had with me. Everything around me was full of this pure joy, kindness and love, a sense that I rarely get to feel in my everyday life.
I also understood that we are not born with racism and discrimination, but the culture in which we grow up carves us in this way that we start hating each other, only because of these small differences that are found between us as humans.
I must admit this camp changed the way I see things now, in the best way possible. I am honored to have participated in this camp, with these wonderful people. As before, now even better, all I see around me is just Kindness; which comes from Humans, no matter what place they were born in, color of their skin, language they speak, God they believe in, how they salute or how they say goodbye.
I will miss every second of this camp and remember it until my last breaths of air.”
“When someone will ask me: < How was your summer?>, the answer will be short <Bremen>. Actually, for me this youth exchange has meant more than urban gardening, asylum politics and refugees, which were its main themes. People from different countries of Europe decided to be part of an amazing multicultural group and share their kindness.
The concept of urban gardening showed me that German people can be very creative and use everything to have the best results. I won’t forget Lucie Garden, a place where all you need is imagination and free time. Urban Gardening represents a strong connection between society and the nature. Bremen has many gardens where immigrants can get a job, children from kindergarten are involved in workshops about a healthy life and as a volunteer you can spend there a quality time.
Arbergen Garden was a really special place for me. There I had the chance to interact with refugees and to hear their stories. I met there Lina, a sixteen years old girl from Pakistan, who had the courage to tell me about her hard past, family and her wishes. This girl made me realize and appreciate more what I have right now and made me more responsable.
In gardens, working under the sun’s heat I was part of different groups and had to make some tasks like: weeding, build a yurt, plant vegetables. We were organized in small groups and I had the opportunity to speak with the camp members. Everyone represented a country with a special culture and language. At the final of the week a realized that we did a great job because we were a very, very strong team. You know why? The nature offers you the best conditions to feel good, time for relaxing and you can open your soul to the others. In the gardens, breathing fresh air everyone told his story and this is the easiest way to get close to a person. The excursion to The Wadden Sea was unforgettable. The smell of the sea, high tide, low tide, crabs, shells, the protected area, the people from there, everything is kept in my soul.
My first time in Germany, my first youth exchange in a foreign country, my first visit to The Wadden Sea, my first low tide….so many first things. You know what this means? I won’t forget you! Thank you for everything!”
“The youth exchange program was really interesting for me. Seeing all those gardens really gave me the inspiration to do something in my city as well. I spoke with people I know and it’s quite easy to access European funds for these kind of social projects so I will try and start writing the papers needed for this type of project this winter. Other then seeing gardens, I was quite fondly surprised to see so many young people interested in eco agriculture and doing the big step and moving to the countryside to do just that, which made a big impression on me, because in my country this phenomena is just starting to catch on. Also I am really grateful for meeting all the new people, because it made me change a bit the way I look at the world, other people and work in general. It was like a breath of fresh air, and I came back home filled with positive vibes and a lot of cheer; but also the will to work more and do more for my community and for my friends. It was a really nice experience overall. One thing i would’ve liked better was to do a bit more hands-on gardening, and actually working with plants and taking care of them and less daily worker type of job. Thank you so much for allowing me to be part of this project because in a way it made me progress as a human being and it made me better in some ways.”
- Europe. Germany. Bremen.
“Everything started with a youth exchange. One schedule for one week full of new activities, new people, workshops, trips, work and barbacues. Let`s start the adventure!
Before this camp, I haven`t ever imagined that a garden can be used in so many ways, and what I want to say is about social programs that include people with disabilities, poor people who want to start a new life, ex-prisoners, immigrants, refugees. Actually, I learnt that gardening can be done by everyone who loves nature, people and life. We had the great opportunity to work in these gardens and each one had offered us special moments. Even though we had to dig, to weed, to build, to plant or to harvest something, I was always excited because I knew that our little help it`s important for them. Seeing all the time people around me smiling and ready to change the world step by step, makes me feel more eager to do the same. Working with a young team and with people from all continents it was unique. In that moments you are feeling like you are the luckiest person you have ever met.
I thought that the participants will be only from tree countries, but the big surprise was that they were from other ones and this create a group more “coloured and flavoured”. Just like the garden with over 20 different species of tomatoes. It was so nice to share our culture, to explore a new country though someone.
If tree weeks ago I didn`t know anything about refugees and what is happening in the rest of the world, now I`m feeling like I take part from their story. If this topic wasn`t very discussed in Romania, now everyone should have heard something about this people, because the number who arrived in Europe few weeks ago started to create a big fuss.
I am so glad that I have seen the places where they live in Bremen for some months, where all of the refugees would like to go, but they have a terrible and hard way to them. So many sad stories of people without any fault, who are praying for a normal life. The refugees we`ve met at Arbergen and Uberseetor were so nice and happy to help us and this was very impressive for me.
It was so special that discovering all that gardens with the special purposes for citizens and refugees camps from Bremen showed me what is really important. We had the chance to visit Bremen in few hours and it`s a very beautiful town with that old Dom and buildings and the Weser refreshing the atmosphere, but this time I found more exciting and funny to harvest potatoes or doing something else with you, dear team. I`ve learnt a lot of new things about gardening, the social problems of the people, and other things and these couldn`t have happened if I was just visiting a town. It can be strange for readers who haven`t been there.
This doesn`t mean that the excursion to the North Sea wasn`t amazing. I felt like I took part in a National Geographic TV show. Wadden Sea is a must to see for everyone if they have the chance, because is not that type of crowded and commercial place and offers you the best time for relaxing and counting the stars even in the sand. Being in the middle of the sea during the low tide and watching the sunset is speechless.
Now, I am more aware of the situations of the refugees and the fact that they really need friends everywhere because people don`t accept easily the idea of living with them in the same country.”
“Urban gardening in Bremen – how was it?
I wanted to participate in this camp because I thought my gardening, permaculture knowledge and building, crafting skills were needed there and I wanted to help. Throughout the days while working with refugees and other participants I realized I was very wrong: gardening and building stuff was a small part, maybe the smallest, of what we did there. We worked a lot, and we did it good but the time working was more about socializing, communicating and in the same time contemplating about what is going on. Working hard was a way of recognition for us and for the refugees because it was a way to keep us together and to teach us patience and respect for the other.
Participating in this work-camp was meaningful and inspiring. I believe it was time spent efficiently and very constructive. I was happy to have time to get to know the people I’ve been working with and in the same time we built all kinds of structures and we dug and we moved earth and weeded.
I loved the participant’s mix-up. Every country had something different to offer. I got so close to some people so fast, I felt like we’ve been friends forever. Everyone knew why we are there for and everyone respected the other. The communication was so good, not one participant left unhappy.
The moments spent with the refugees were very open and honest; I got to know some of their personal problems not only the ones related to migration, asylum and politics. I learned a lot in Bremen especially about socializing with a special group of people, people who don’t know their place yet. In the same time, I learned my place by being between the refugees. I kind of miss some of them.
When I returned to Romania, I had a feeling of uncertainty about my place, my home, my country because I felt like it can happen to me, to any of us, anytime. I started to understand the world as a whole: no borders, no limits and no separation. I understand now that diversity is what keeps the world alive and as beautiful as it always was. We have to appreciate change, we have to embrace it!
One of the most interesting things that happened to me was with a Somalian refugee which I met at one of the refugee camps where we were working. We met there, we started working together, we had the same sense of humor so we started fooling around, we were the same age, we liked the same things, we listened to the same music, we had similar wealth and education but his country is at war and mine is not. It’s all about circumstances, destiny is changed so easily and yet people keep feeling superior, or inferior to others.
I think I can call this camp an “event” in my life because it changed me, ok maybe not changed but made me be more aware about myself and others surrounding me. I learned that life is simple and that life is happy and full of hope for everyone. I forgot why I am here, alive and well on this beautiful planet and this camp reminded me in a very personal way. I hope that people around the world start communicating like we all did in Bremen and start doing good.”