Don’t stay where you can’t be authentic!

Dzień dobry!
Here it’s Giulia from Italy. You already know I’m volunteering in the democratic school “Droga Wolna” in Szczecin, as a project of European solidarity corps coordinated by Active Women Association. Sitting on the train, I was thinking and listening in a loop to a song recently known thanks to my Georgian friends, Kite – Jonny Boy from the movie “And then we danced”. I’m not sure why this song has been in my head for days, it may be its music that allows my body to move spontaneously, or maybe it may be the memories of happy days that this song will keep forever.

The idea of ​​spending Christmas in a foreign land when my plans were completely different, and living almost a month with complete strangers, almost led me to exasperation. I don’t like changes. The surprises and not knowing who-what-how-when, even less. You can only imagine my state of mind when I left for the capital. What if something goes wrong? What if I don’t like them? Worse still, what if they don’t like me? Maybe it’s better to spend a month alone instead of taking these risks? To you they may seem stupid adolescent doubts – and they are – but, for someone like me, who has always lived in a straight line, with the same friends she can twitch on the fingers of one hand, with the same guy for more than ten years, they are really high peaks to climb.

These strangers, who have been my family in every ways for a month, have taught me so much. I realized that it is not so much the fear of the other that keeps me from meeting, but it is the fear of letting others see me. The fear of showing myself and sharing pieces of soul. I often say that before letting a person into my space, I need to be sure I can trust them. I spend so much time testing people, whether they are worthy of my trust or not, forecasting if they will hurt me or not, that eventually the urge to meet goes out and nothing remains. It’s as if the thought of being precious prevents me from seeing how precious others are, how much the game is worth the candle. Not long ago, I told a friend how much this adventure is opening my eyes: I really believed to be in a good point referring to be welcoming and openminded, but the truth is that I still have a lot to learn. 

The only lessons I can attend compared to this are outside the university classes, outside the walls of my home, outside my scout office, outside my trusted bar. These lessons are taught by the world, not the known one, but the unknown one. Because when the unknown finally translates into “surprise”, fear turns into excitement. And I think it is not really a coincidence that my favorite song in the face of the difficulty of finally being yourself, suggests to go out: “I know myself and I think it doesn’t work to be myself, and easyness, no I don’t know what it comes then I go out”. Eventually, I went out. I reached the border of the space I knew, I explored it, I hesitated sometimes, but once overcame, the way is simply amazing. Beyond my border, I found the freest human beings in the world. My adventure companions are living in such pure and transparent way that they make you want to not hide anymore. They let me see themselves through my eyes, they stared at me with a welcoming smile that only those who are authentic are able to have, with open arms as if to say “I am this, come in, I don’t care about the risks because you are worth it”. The surprise: being loved by strangers in a foreign country, When someone shows you this thing here, which is called love, you take it, at first maybe you keep it inside you, but in the end it needs so much air that you can only share it to others again.

Don’t stay where you can’t be authentic, I tell myself. Get out. Meet. Observe the living and let yourself be observed: a wound cannot make you lose yourself, it will just be another part of you. When you start practicing the art of authenticity, no longer repressing your body and your thoughts, you can no longer live without it. In this month, I experienced letting go of control, speaking out loud because I am worth to be seen and heard. I experienced my body again and letting it move, following the music inside and outside of me, under the gaze of others it gave me the lightness that I had been missing for a long time. Let’s say this: how hard is it to pretend to be someone else? How heavy is it to keep this theater going on?! On the other side, being authentic is living light, and it’s simple. And anyway, when three of us share these moments of freedom and authenticity, dancing becomes flying. What a magic!

Magda, Nazi and Giulia in Warsaw Old Town, 9.01.2021.

Giulia, Magda and Nazi at the train station the day I came back home.
Carola and Giulia the Santa’s throne, Wilanów, 2.01.2021.

Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Skoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#EUSolidarityCorps
#ActiveWomenAssociation

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th.

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Re-descovering joy in personal ugliness

In my family, the artist is my granfather. He started to paint when he was young and discovered to have an amazing ‘talent’ in doing so. Therefore, he kept on with his pure passion and created various painting, which in my opinion are authentic masterpieces. And I struggle to call them like that, because they are not the work of professionists in the academy, but,instead, they are the spontaneous feelings of a man who grew old with the time and, during the process, brought with him his migration from the South to the North, remembering that journey that changed his life forever, separating him from his childhood ground.

Now, why am I writing about ‘ugliness’ if I am speaking about masterpieces?

Because this story is not – only – about my granfather, but it is about me.

When I was a child, I would go to his studio – the basement – and sometimes watch him painting, other just slipping between his works, observing. It was such a great mixture of colours, a magical union of brushstrokes, that I never thought I could ever reach the levels he had learnt to experience throughout his life journey.

And, indeed, I was right.

Since that moment – I can see it now -, I started to be unconsciously intimated by this thought and I would not have more relationships than I had to with painting and manual arts in general. The reason is quite predictable and easy to recognize. Even though it was not – and it is not nowadays either- a trauma, I did not want to face the fact that I was not able to reproduce that beauty that I would taste in his works, the silent dance of the ‘tempere’ on his canvas.

Then, I went to school and the formal educational system put its hard effort not to let me express freely from strict rules which do not make sense. Secret dictates destroying my creativity from inside: you should have those exact pencils, you should buy those fancy watercolours but just because we have to see if you can afford them or not, etc.

Same old story we all went through, I would say by now.

This is the reason why, when I began high school and had no manual arts classes at all, I felt released, not having to worry anymore to follow blurry rules and be given a just-discrete mark for not being able to copy the teacher work as good as I should have done. However, this is my conscious thought now, being twenty years old and walking a path of freedom. But when I was younger, this environment made me believe that I was not able to create beauty at all in this field. And I just wanted to mentally run away from my incapacity of expressing grace.

While the years would begin and end, one after the other, I was more and more secure to have no ability at all to produce humble, genuine splendour throughout the connection among my heart, my brain and my body. Therefore, I started to withdraw from any chance that would have ashamed me and turned down to describe beautifully through words, to write. So that the hand would only guide the pen, and that was it. And I fell in love with it, really. I still am, but why should we have just one love in this shining life path?

Hence, now that I am “walking a path of freedom”, as I wrote, and I am discovering myself in those activities and recreations that I pushed into the blackhole of my mind for years, well, now it is the right moment for re-discovering joy in ugliness. Feeling free to express myself. Feeding my soul when it needs to eat from those watercolors that I bought a couple of weeks ago. Accepting my inexpert drawings on the white papers of that big notebook that they gave me for Christmas. Loving the fruits of my inner garden.

Carola, italian volunteer in Free School Ursynow, Warsaw.

Project co-founded by the European Solidarity Corps.

#eusolidaritycorps

#activewomenassociation

#WolnaSzkolaUrsynow

Climate change in Azerbaijan

According to scientific hypotheses, our planet has warmed and cooled many times over its 4.5-5.0 billion-year history. Scientific observations already show that the Earth has begun a process of rapid warming. However, in contrast to the current global warming process, more and more people will still be affected by the global warming problem. The main reason is that, the increase in the amount of carbon monoxide and methane in the atmosphere, which creates a greenhouse effect. As it is known, a person can and must reduce the amount of “greenhouse gases” by regulating his activity. Environmental problems can make life on Earth very difficult.  According to some forecasts, “global warming will destroy more than a quarter of plant and animal species by 2050, and more than a million in other words”  By the end of the 21st century, the average temperature is expected to reach an all-time high, and the threat of mass extinction of the earth’s flora and fauna is expected to remain a mystery. This heating is considered to be due to the greenhouse effect of the gases emitted into the atmosphere during the pre-combustion of minerals such as coal, oil and natural gas and their effects on the environment.

The question is that how does it affect to Azerbaijan? Let`s look first of the scientific side, then I`ll share my experience as the citizen of this country.

Climate risk issues in Azerbaijan, including how climate change will potentially impact agriculture, water resources, human health, tourism, and coastal resources and infrastructure. But I definitely say that, climate change is the big part of it.  

Azerbaijan is an emerging middle-income country. The agriculture sector contributes only 7 percent of GDP but is a critical component of the non-oil economy. As a key source of jobs and a priority in the context of food security, Azerbaijan’s agriculture sector will be increasingly at risk from higher temperatures, unpredictable rainfall and natural disasters. The country’s rapid economic development created a number of environmental challenges that will be exacerbated by climate change, such as severe air pollution from industrial plants, water pollution, soil degradation and important biodiversity and forest reserve degradation and losses. Another major risk to economic development and the population is the increase in frequency and intensity of natural disasters. Azerbaijan is considered to be one of the most flood-prone areas in the world and extreme events, mainly floods, landslides and mudslides cost Azerbaijan an estimated $70–80 million annually. (This paragraph has been taken from https://www.climatelinks.org/resources/climate-change-risk-profile-azerbaijan)

As a citizen of this country I can tell that in my childhood we played with snowball every year from 1999- 2007.  Unfortunately I witnessed snow which stayed on the land last time in 2017, it is sometimes snowy, or sleety ( snow with the mixture of rain) but after an hour, there is nothing, for example yesterday the weather was 11 degree ( on the 26th of December 2020).

I know the second reason of global warming is plastic pockets, finally our government will forbid to use plastic pockets from the 1st of January 2021, however, some people judge the government for it, because they are not aware of disadvantages of plastic pockets, once I tried to explain it to a woman who could be 35-45 years old, she only answered me, “everyone uses it, is it a problem only I use?” with the high voice and rude way… We can solve this problem only with awareness, making some short videos, but not the strict video, according to marketing we can strongly impact to people only with 2 ways, humour and drama, we need to film something with the language of animals and nature.

  I am going to share here some photos as an example.  Note: I took all of them from the internet.

Photo 1 – Global warming

I have sent some photos to my friends, and got their opinions, it impressed them a lot, and they understood the power of global warming.

Photo 2 – Pollution

The death of an innocent bird because of pollution…

Leyla from free school in Cracow.

It is worth seeing vol. 1

Hello everyone!
From this side, a Polish volunteer!

Today I will write you something that I hope you will find useful, especially when you will be travelling in Poland.
I want to show you the places in different Polish cities that you can see during the pandemic and not to worry if it is open.

The first will be Warsaw.
I have lived in Warsaw for almost 10 years and I got to know this city rather well, although I still don’t like the city center :).
Warsaw is a big city and moving around may be burdensome, especially by public transport, but there are places worth all the effort.

  1. Old Town – historic tenement houses, rebuilt by Poles after World War II, are unique and listed by UNESCO.
    Charming streets, colorful facades and the mermaid’s monument are the showcase of the city and how you are in Warsaw you must see them.
  2. Krakowskie przedmieście – Nowy Świat – two long streets connecting the Old Town with the city center, connect the old with the new.
    On the first street you will find antique shops, small bookshops and cafes as well as the University of Warsaw and the Presidential Palace right next door.
    The second street is a time of modernity, bars and modern stores. It is full of young people looking for good food and music.
  3. the Royal Łazienki Park – one of the most beautiful parks with a palace complex in Europe. There is a summer residence of Stanislaw August, one of the Polish kings.
    The park is large, you can see the Palace on the Water, a theater, a palm house and peacocks walking in the park.
    When it is warm you can take a blanket and have a picnic among trees and flowers.
  4. Wilanów Palace – the most distant attraction. It is the palace of King John III located in the Wilanów district, surrounded by gardens and forests.
    It is one of the few Baroque palaces entirely preserved with interior decoration.
    During the winter, light gardens are created every year presenting different stories – two years ago it was Alice in the wonderland.
    At specific hours a mapping showing the history of the building’s inhabitants and folk parables is displayed on the facade.

These are the four most spectacular places in Warsaw, which you can see almost at any time. Especially in this period, where there are lights everywhere, it is worth to go even for a short walk.

Dominika, Polish volunteer, In Situ foundation in Sokołowsko

Wilanów Palace

#ActiveWomenAssociation #EUSolidarityCorps

Holidays different than usual

This year's holidays, as we all know, are a bit different from everyone else, which does not mean that they are worse. This year I spent Christmas in Sokołowsko, of course, I missed my family, but unfortunately I was not able to go there. But I made a great Christmas Eve dinner and everyone was happy and when it comes to New Year's Eve, it was really successful this year with an international dinner and a bonfire so maybe it was good for me that I stayed here

Izabela, volunteer of European Solidarity Corps in In Situ Foundation in Sokolowsko.
This project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.
#EuropeanSolidarityCorps

Xmas abroad

Hello everyone, this year has been quite different and strange at times, especially due to the fact of having been away at Christmas, a date that is usually characteristic for being with the closest and closest family and friends and especially for the great feast. This year has been different not only because of the global pandemic but also because I decided to stay in Poland due to restrictions in my country and problems related to mobility.

Sometimes I have been sad for my family and the tradition related to meals and parties, but on the other hand it has been an enriching experience due to it has given me the opportunity to spend a different Christmas, meet other volunteers, very grateful because they gave us the opportunity to stay in their homes and eat with them, exchanging ideas and values about Christmas in different countries and cooking typical dishes from many countries, so despite missing for the classic celebration, having another perspective and changing the tradition for a year feels very good. 😃😄⛄🎄🌟

Much Love to my family and friends, and also to all the new people who have made possible a wonderful time this Xmas! ❤️🇵🇱

Arturo Volunteer in Wolno Mi Democratic School in Gliwice.

Project co-funded by European Solidarity Corps

#EUSolidarityCorps

#ActiveWomanAssociation

The old and new year!

I’m Marc from Catalunya, Barcelona 🙂 In this article I want to write about the general experience during this year (before the volunteer) and my wishes for the next and very close new year!!

This year, I had the amazing experience to achieve something that seemed for me very far away and difficult in this time: to do this volunteer in a foreign country! The difficulties are totally obvious: The pandemic time. Bus this experience has returned to me the impressions that the things can be possible even in the worse conditions and when I thought that perhaps it was impossible… So, this experience suppose largely “to do possible” “the impossible”.

I’m volunteer in the free democratic school: Bullerbyn. There was a lot of reasons to do this volunteer. Some of them are personal and others more related to the concrete project: to work in a school with the children. Perhaps the most important is related to know other way of education very different than how I was educated in my childhood and because I like a lot to learn about alternatives and new forms (emergents) of pedagogy. Thinking about how I was educated I found a lot of things that I don’t like (also of course, that I liked and enjoyed). I believe that as a persons we have the moral right to develop our best potencial as a humans and as a humans integrated in the society. And unfortunately. In my opinion the “regular education” was not so good in a lot of basic points : The creativity, the human relationships, emotional management, the development of our individual values, the hierarchy with the teachers, etc. In that sense, to discover this type of education it’s a nice nutrition for my intellect to be able to understand that we have alternatives in education. Perhaps the most important that I liked is the concept of to be active for the kids: to participe actively in his own education. And of course the general idea about democracy: to take the decisions using the assembly.

Other reason to do this volunteer was to have more clarity about what to do professionaly in my near future life because I have a lot of options: I’m pshychologist and music but I have to choose and to follow a way that give me some decent beneficts, personally and economical. So, during this ending part of this year I’ve token the decision to do the superior of the violin and to focus in that direction my professional developement. It makes me happy because I’m finding a lot of opportunities to develop me musically: some violin teachers that I have found and perhaps the most important the experience of singing in the Chór Akademici SGGW. I recommend to everybody to live this amazing experience in his life that is to sing in a choir with other people, hearing all voices. It’s healthy for the soul. Only this clarity that I have now about what I want to do in my future it’s enough to feel that this volunteer experience has a lot of values.

I wanted to say that during the last two month I’m doing an amazing kung fu routine. Perhaps the most important that I’ve learned about this intern kung fu is the value of determination. Every day I get up at 6.50 to practise during 1 hour. Sometimes I want to practice and sometimes not. Sometimes it’s not funny or I’m tired. But it doesn’t matter. The development of will and determination is more important than temporary desire of the moment. And this fact give to me the certain of force and stability in a lot of senses. I’m introducing in my life and body a lot of new and health habits that I want to keep for the next year!

My wishes for the next year is to increase my English level. To enjoy at maximum with the kids, stuff, and school and develop new communication skills wit Polish and English. I will quit also my habit to smoke in March for my Birthday (24,March, Aries people…). And finally, to kill for ever an ever that little (or big) monster that is called “koronawirus”

Happy new year for everybody! Best wishes for the rest of volunteers.

This project is co-funded by Soladirity Corps.

Article 24

I wanted to share with you the Article 24 of the new French proposed bill :

That article makes it a criminal offence to publish images of on-duty police officers with the intent to harm their “physical or psychological integrity”.

But how could you judge the « intent » on those publications ?

It says offenders could face up to a year in prison and be fined €45,000 ! 

Advocates say the article will protect police from harassment and targeting on social media.

But critics say media freedom and citizens’ right to film police action must not be impeded, as the French police are now under intense scrutiny for alleged racism ! 
Images of music producer Michel Zecler being kicked and punched at his Paris studio last month ( 21 November ) by three white policemen shocked the nation, and further enraged opponents to the bill. 

Without that video Michel will have been in jail for diffamation !

https://loopsider.com/fr/video/lagression-de-michel-lintegralite-des-images

More informations on BBC.

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

Matthias , volunteer in Special Needs School no.4 , Sosnowiec.

Short but intense

December has been a shorter month for some of us as we went back to our countries but it has been full of emotions.

New volunteers are arriving, the community is growing and it is always nice to have the opportunity of sharing experiences. We spent a “Spanish weekend”, we cooked croquettes and tortilla and ate cheese. I don’t know how is possible that there’s still being Spanish people in Spain, a lot of us are abroad!

Travelling back home is always bittersweet, of course you are looking forward to arrive and meet your family but the last days in Poland some of us were sad and missing the others already. Plus everything was covered by snow and it’s always sad to say goodbye to the snow.

Good news is that soon all of us will be back, we’ll meet new volunteers that are already waiting for us in our flat and we will spend a second Christmas together.

Ysaura, Spanish volunteer in special needs school no.30, Sosnowiec.

Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#europeansolidaritycorps #eusolidaritycorps #activewomenassociation

Impacts of climate changes

Climate change and environmental damage are two of the most dramatic challenges facing the world today. Many countries are already feeling the effects of climate change. In our part of the world, the changes in Azerbaijan are dramatic too. 

Now I will write about the areas which can get affected easily by climate change.

Water supply, agriculture and human health are considered to be sensitive areas of climate change in Azerbaijan. As can be seen, these areas coincide with the areas of climate change that are hampering human development.

Water resources. As a result of the expected climate change, surface water resources will decrease by 23% to 22.5 km 3 in 2021-2050. Azerbaijan is the poorest country in the South Caucasus in terms of water resources. Given that 70% of the country’s water resources are formed in other neighboring countries, this situation will be exacerbated. Because climate change will inevitably lead to water shortages in neighboring countries and increase demand and pressure on existing resources. As now, the most sensitive areas in the future will be agriculture, hydropower and water supply. All these factors will negatively affect the process of human development in the country. The fact that more than 40% of Azerbaijan’s population is employed in agriculture makes it undesirable to have problems with water supply. In addition, the impact of climate change, especially in large cities, can lead to water supply problems and a reduction in the country’s limited hydropower potential in the current context, which could slow human development in the country.

The following adaptation measures can be taken to mitigate the adverse effects of expected climate change:

a) improvement of water resources management systems;

b) involvement of additional water sources;

c) strengthening flood control

d) reduction of water losses and improvement of quality in the water supply system;

e) construction of small HPPs on mountain rivers and irrigation canals, etc. Agriculture. It is possible that climate change has both positive and negative effects. As a result of the effects of global warming, the expected increase in hot resources and the duration of the growing season in our country may have a positive impact on the cotton sector. Thus, the currently cultivated cotton varieties can be replaced by higher quality late-maturing varieties. Their productivity can be taken to the level of the 80s of the last century and higher. Forecasts suggest that by the end of the century, the border of the current area of ​​grain growing will be able to move towards the mountains. However, due to the limited availability of suitable land resources in these areas, no significant expansion of grain fields to the mountains is expected.

In 2021-2050, the boundaries of industrially important vineyards may rise from the current 800-900m to 200-450m in the mountains, depending on the region. However, due to the large size of these heights and the lack of suitable areas for viticulture, it is not expected to be widespread in these areas.

As can be seen, the warm weather creates conditions for the cultivation of hardy plants in Azerbaijan, but it is unfavorable for melons and fruit crops. In addition, the expected shortage of water in irrigated agricultural areas may aggravate the situation.

The following adaptation measures should be taken to mitigate and prevent as much as possible the adverse effects of expected climate change:

a) selection, introduction and application of hardy, drought-resistant and high-yielding varieties;

b) continuation and expansion of land reclamation measures against soil salinization and erosion, drought and white winds;

c) mass application of water-saving technologies in irrigated areas;

d) improvement and expansion of the existing storage system of agricultural products (warehouse, refrigerator, etc.), etc.

Population health. In the summer of 2003-2006, the 1.5 ° C increase in the average air temperature in Baku increased the incidence of diseases by various causes by 20-34% compared to previous years. The additional mortality rate is low (3.4%), which is due to the adaptation of the local population to the long hot summer conditions. However, the number of deaths from myocardial infarction and stroke increased by 26% and 56%, respectively. In the future, the increase in the number of elderly people at risk and the presence of “heat islands” in cities may further increase the negative effects of extreme heat.

According to the characteristics of the spread of malaria in the country,

344 are divided into: endemic, epidemic and malaria-free zones. As a result of global warming, it can be expected that the boundaries of both endemic and epidemic malaria zones will rise towards the mountains, and the epidemic season will prolong, especially in mountainous areas. However, given that sparsely populated areas above 1,500 m above sea level and currently only 1.2% of the country’s population live in this area, new outbreaks of malaria are unlikely to occur at these altitudes.

The following key adaptation measures can be implemented to reduce the potential adverse effects of climate change on public health:

a) taking into account the existing “heat islands” effect and expected climate change when designing settlements and buildings;

b) rapid greening of cities and establishment of green areas around the city;

c) forecasting and prevention of malaria epidemics;

d) improving the quality of drinking water, etc.

From the above, it can be concluded that climate change has its effects in our country and affects the process of human development in general. Most of the negative impacts in the above areas affect the most vulnerable segments of the Azerbaijani population (rural population, the elderly, etc.). This is the whole world. Climate change is exacerbating the existing problems of more vulnerable groups on a global scale. That is why climate change must be combated, mitigation measures must be taken and necessary steps must be taken to adapt. When this problem is approached superficially and not taken seriously, it may be too late.

Chichak🇦🇿, volunteer in Sosnowiec.

The project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.

#EUSolidarityCorps #ActiveWomenAssociation