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My experience in Romania for Yellow Shirt and the Sound Beats Time project

Here I am in December. It’s two weeks until my return to Italy and I still don’t realise I’m leaving this place.

As already mentioned in other articles, the beginning was not so easy. I found myself in the middle of an ESC project on sport that was already underway. I have never been involved in the organisation behind a sports event, but this included a lot of work under the sun and sudden summer downpours, but also a lot of teamwork. As a team, we set up the field from scratch, prepared all the stations. The team consisted of 13 ESC short term, 3 ESC long term, the leader Andreea, the legendary Octavia and me, completely lost. But I observed a lot. Everyone had a specific role, everyone was essential to the overall functioning of the tournaments, it was a harmonious organism. We did it; it overcame the first challenge here!

But it was only the first of many, among the most delightful and healthy ones were the hikes to the lakes around the city, it was nice to sweat it out together and then relax in the middle of nature, discover a little piece of paradise not that far from home.

And I enjoyed dealing with the cultural shock when all the short ESCs left, thanks to my fantastic flatmates who took me around to the cool places in town, full of young people, and Andreea who suggested so many cultural events that made me discover the soul of this place, a soul that lies deep inside, piercing the surface... just like the precious gems in the Maramureș soil.

Let’s say that in the first half of this journey, there was no getting used to anything. There were constant changes. And I will tell you, it was certainly a challenge, but what came next was always interesting. It created curiosity in me!

And indeed, here I am catapulted to Brașov! It’s late July and after the weeks spent at home working alone on documents, funds, articles, I find myself in the middle of fifty people from all over the world, all computers and financial geniuses. It was a famous Summer School of the Faculty of Business at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest. I don’t know that much about these things. I even tried to attend a few lectures, but nothing changed. Fortunately, I found myself in the organisation’s team, especially for ice breaking and team-building activities among participants, and the role of social media manager on the Summer School’s LinkedIn page.

Now that was quite a challenge! I’m not an expert in social media. Before I came here, I created my Instagram and LinkedIn social media accounts. I haven’t studied these things. But especially what a responsibility to tell on behalf of a university faculty! Social anxiety aside, at the end of the day, communicating on social teaches those who write for work like me, to be clear, concise, direct, to put into words an emotion, a moment. Images and pictures, the colours in them, can also help create the atmosphere in a post. Here I have to say that writing articles for the SBT blog, combined with this experience, helped make my writing easier and smoother.

In September, however, Andreea and I got into the thick of the preparation for a mobility. The days went by in a flow of brainstorming on activities and preparation of materials. We got into the swing of Sound Beats Time! And then the trip to Timișoara, perhaps my favourite city in Romania. Here too, there was no shortage of challenges, but there were also many new things to learn.

I am not a music expert; I am just an avid listener. Years ago, I played drums, but it was more of an amateur passion. And that’s all I know. Instead, I found myself in the middle of so many young musicians, experts in so many instruments. It was wonderful to see them playing and having fun with music. I perceived their special relationship. In Timișoara with them, I discovered how a young musician lives, what they dream about, how career and passion are intertwined.

But the challenge here was not the beautiful journey through the world and people of music. No, in this case, the challenge was time and its management. I was so interested in the activities, captivated by the city and I really had to remember to post on social media! I also took responsibility for the Italian group myself, partly out of homesickness and partly because the team leaders did not speak English. All together, this made an exhausting challenge. I learnt, therefore, that it is crucial to set boundaries and clearly delineate one’s tasks and availability. All in all, however, I really enjoyed being with the teenagers, who, yes, may have cultural differences between them, but are similar to those age-typical characteristics. And I can say that it was really worth it.

Immediately after this very intense mobility, it was time for the multiplier event of the project. No break, back to work building our station at the local Street Delivery festival! Here, Andreea told the citizens of Baia Mare and members of other local organisations what Sound Beats Time is, what has been done, the website, the online lessons, the exchanges between young Romanians and Italians. And for the rest, the musical instruments available to the audience did the talking.

The last big challenge was in October and November, as ESC volunteer coordinator for the Baia Mare Is Mine project, by Yellow Shirts, which aims to promote local culture, traditions and sociability, but also to give voice to the needs of the city’s inhabitants. 11 volunteers, 5 from France, Georgia, Spain and Poland and 6 local volunteers from Romania. Activities included collaborations with historical local places such as Bastionul Măcelarilor that promotes local artistic traditions, or Asociația Deis that populates the local youth centre, offering many workshops, activities and events for young people. The youngsters embroidered the geometric designs that we can find on typical Maramureș blouses, created and painted magnets and pins with the city’s magnificent landscapes, wrote a guidebook on Baia Mare, organised a treasure hunt around the city, facilitated games and activities at schools, interviewed women who contribute to the local reality, and much more.

Despite the wonderful activities that brought to a conclusion the project that began in 2021, I believe the coordination was the most challenging part of the entire journey here. It has required me to learn as things happen, to calibrate some of my personality traits with the need to maintain a work rhythm and, in the meantime, the demands of the volunteers.

In the last few weeks I’m going to write a new project, combining the culture of gender that I bring from my sending organisation in Italy, in Turin, with the world of sports events for teenagers, a mixture from what I learnt from Yellow Shirts and Sound Beats Time. I hope that with all the things written and described so far, I will be able to write something good! But above all, through the constant confrontation with Andreea, I observed the mechanism behind an organisation working within Erasmus+ and ESC. Andreea carries on a reality made of connections with other organisations, Stakhanovism, unexpected ideas, but also budget calculations and other practical tasks, all thanks to a great organisation of her time. I am a free spirit, admittedly also a confusing one, and this has undoubtedly been the biggest challenge and one that will perhaps take up a great part of the time in my organisational career: to observe from above, to know what needs to be done for oneself and for others, to organise one’s time, and to recognise everything that has been done in one’s path.

- Diletta

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