Advent

Is this how it is supposed to feel?

Darkness increasing and the frost that sticks.
Lights rising from window to window, stars of red and white, Christmas tunes.

Of Ben & Jerry’s and food experiments,
long walks and thoughts of presents

Pumpkin, candles in the dark,
a duvet covering whispers

Red and green nail polish
small bottles crashing on a pavement full of water

Innocence
Anger
Mixed feelings
Chocolate

Is this how it is supposed to feel?

To never get enough and stop waiting for something
in a time of advent when everyone is longing for a change

To never get enough, to feel complete when incomplete
and incomplete when complete

To not be able to write it understand it speak it shout it feel it

Love

November vibes

November is made of uncertainty and opposing feelings.

Just as the fog symbolizing an unsure weather that does not know where to stay.

Hitching cold winds on the way back home, you turn the corner to feel an air

as still as some summer evenings.

 

When darkness comes, the white blanket seems to rise from the streets,

forcing drivers to slow down, bikers and walkers to tighten their eyes in the shape

of a half-moon laying on pale faces full of summer memories.

The only reason you can still see what is in front of you is the light from the street lamps

but soon you will be one thing with the light and the muffled air, starting to wonder where you are heading to.

 

In the morning, the white blanket rather seems to be hanging from the highest place in the sky, reaching the ground

it seems as it would never disappear, as hour by hour it just gets thicker and thicker

November memories and november vibes, two weeks after the first snow. Not longer thinking about the past memories and warm summer but already looking

forward to a brighter season. But first one need to get the best out of the darkest one.

Of coming back, of already yellow leaves and first days as an intern

From a few days ago…

The last ten days have been intense. I am now at the end of the second week of internship, and it was since the weeks I have been working in New York that I had not been as constantly tired as now.

Malmö is yellow, red and blue. Elections on the 9th of September have given a result which has made many surprised, confused, scared of what the future will bring. Malmö is yellow and orange, because of the sun that hit the leaves during summer, burning and drying them. They are brown now, almost falling leaving their home called tree. The border between summer and fall is not clear, where do the dry leaves belong to?

I am starting to appreciate Malmö more than I ever been doing, maybe staying one month in New York did this. I started noticing more and more how people are more outgoing in this city – still in the limits of Sweden average – and how this mix of cultures helps everyone to feel at home.

In two weeks at the Red Cross I have been meeting people with different experiences back at home, in their home countries, but also here. I could notice what a poverty level you can find in the city but at the same time it can be wonderful to see how many people are ready to help. I have been reading tens of papers about evaluations of the situation of people living in Malmö, of how the city can be only a place of transition for many, it is not a place where many settle down, or at least there is a high number of people leaving after only a few years.

My last weekends have been about getting around in Malmö gathering new memories in different places and feeling more and more part of this amazing city. I have always thought of Malmö as a little New York, or at least a place on the right path to become a place where people from different countries leave in the same area without disturbing each other. My last weekends have been made up of visiting my favorite cinema in Malmö, called Panora Folkets Bio (People’s Cinema) where I watched the film Techo Y Comida, shown by the association based a few meters away from the cinema and called “Imagenes del Sur” (check the website if you are interested in what they work with!). Eight film festivals are organized every year in Malmö, and two of them (Latinamerika i fokus and the International Female Film Festival in Malmö) are organized just from this association! Interested to visit some other art festivals, or especially film festivals in Malmö? Check the city’s official dedicated webpage for more information! When I was at Panora I also tried to ask for some film flyers left from the after-season selling they had during summer. I unfortunately missed that one but I left my contact details and they will let me know if they find something from the films Le brio, The place, Sameblod….

Today I had some lunch at a Syrian restaurant called Shamiat. For what I know, a few years ago their restaurant was victim of a fire and by since they have been working hard to open again, and now not only do they have a fast-food restaurant, the chance to order catering, but also a restaurant that was opened some months ago on Södra Förstadsgatan 78, between Triangeln and the more multicultural neighborhood of Möllevången (Möllan). The day after I had a tasty Iranian dinner at the Teheran restaurant (really good food, warm and welcoming atmosphere and cheap menu!) with a few friends.

Today, Saturday the 22nd of September

This week of internship has been really satisfying and motivating, although every evening I have been so tired I sometimes could not even stand!

Yesterday, as part of my internship, I followed a colleague to a meeting for organizations working for asylum seekers. It was a great chance to network and learn about the work being done in Malmö – and there is a lot of people working towards a more equal society! – as well as to know what are the present and future challenges for the city. We were offered lunch by Yalla Sofielund, a company working for the integration of women immigrant in Sweden. They are based both in Malmö in the areas of Rosengård and Sofielund.

This weekend I chose to take it easy and mostly stay at home, tiding my home a bit, organizing stuff and preparing myself and the apartment for the autumn. To update my blog and focus on my plan for the future. The weather was crazy again in the middle of the week, reaching 23° and making everyone dressing again as it was summer, eating breakfast and lunch outside, dreaming of . This is something I always appreciate to experience when in Sweden: when it’s sunny, people do not loose the chance and usually enjoy the blue sky and maybe warmer weather as much as it stays, ‘cause they will never know when it will happen again!

This month is an active one regarding culture in Malmö and in general in Skåne. Next weekend it will be the Gallery Night (Gallerinatt) in Malmö, and the weekend of the 5th-9th of October it will be time for the Malmö Arab Film Festival (usually known as MAFF)

Some moments and songs take me back to the days I have been spending in New York, like a place selling bagels just close to Värnhem square that I cross quite often here in Malmö…still have to try it but I googled a bit and got to know there are more than only one bagel place…will surely update you about that! 😉

 

New York’s last one: from Clever Blend Lic in Queens to the Strumptown Coffee Roasters on the 29th st

August 23rd

I love when, at the end of a few days staying at the place you have been exploring as a tourist, you start noticing new places you really enjoy to visit and start to call them your favorites ones, although maybe you were there only once until that moment. It symbolizes you willingness to not leave that place, as this mood often comes up at the end of your journey. Here are a couple of places I have been discovering only during the last two days of my going around in New York and which I’ll definitely remember once I’ll be back.

The last bagel for a while

So, today I needed to get breakfast at a place as close to the hostel as possible, because of a relative early check out time, which made me explore the surroundings. Queens Plaza is a connection area between the eastern side of Manhattan from the side of Midtown Manhattan, the most western area of the borough Queens, namely Astoria and Long Island City but also many other more, and Brooklyn. This does not mean that Queens Plaza actually borders with all of them, or at least it does with a few. However, the R, M, E and 7 train of the NY Subway make it very easier for you to reach the farthest in Queens you need to go – areas such as Jamaica or Flushing, the last of which I will tell you about later in this post -, the lowest in Manhattan, such as the World Trade Center or the Whitehall Ferry station, where one can take the Staten Island ferry, and to finish, you can reach places even as far as Brooklyn.

So, really a few steps from the hostel Q4 Plaza, so close I could not even expect and I actually got lost, Clever Blend Lic is located on Queens Plaza south, on the corner with 27th street, and it is one of many restaurants from all over the world where to buy breakfast, lunch or dinner for a quite cheap price, something different from the average expensive meal you can get while in Manhattan. At Clever Blend Lic you can chose between a number of already mixed schmears, always with cream cheese as a ground, but you can also “create your own bagel” by choosing four ingredients. For mine, if memory does not fail me right now, I decided to fill it with tuna, dill pickles, feta cheese and scallion. I decided to sit while waiting for my bagel to be cut in half, filled with a thick layer of schmear and warmed before being served. With a small black coffee aside my breakfast I ate and looked at the subway map while deciding how to schedule my last day in New York before heading to Newark airport and make my way back to Italy.

Another China Town – Flushing Main Street

In a previous blog update I went through my little exploration in the streets of one of New York’s three Chinatowns, the one in Flushing in upper east Queens. It has required a lot of energy to convince myself to leave that place and get once more on a train to go back to Queens Plaza, as I was really attracted by staying a few hours more in Chinatown. But I had some other plans for the evening and I had to catch a train back!

What I did after the little trip in Chinatown was to go back to a place I had discovered the day before – or was it even two days before? – on 29th st, close to 5th avenue, the second of my favorite places I am going to talk about in this post. It is called the Stumptown Coffee Roasters, and it is easily reachable by foot after getting off at the subway stop 28th st., where the N, Q, R and W train stop. So far it is the only laptop friendly café I have been trying in New York, but apparently by doing some short research on google you can find a lot of those spread around the city. The atmosphere is great, coffee relatively cheap and outlets to charge whatever device you went there with. The cafe is actually part of the lobby of the Ace Hotel, about which you can find an extensive and really descriptive article by the New York Times. I find this place exciting, motivating and inspiring. People around may be studying, writing papers, blogs, doing videocalls talking about university group works to be done or business. The second time I was there I remember a man passionately talking in the phone about how the other person in the phone had been developing a certain layout in a wonderful way…This bar is definitely a favorite spot which I will be visiting once back in New York!

However, I had to leave even this spot, go and find a couple of souvenirs, and make my way back to the hostel, pick up my backpacks, take the train again, this time towards Penn station, and then take a real train to reach Newark Airport. It was a familiar journey as I have been working at Newark airport a few days during the last months when we had to pick up and drop students. I had a relaxing dinner at my favorite spot called “Currito” (it is just another chain that you can find in the US!), to later reach the gate and wait, wait, wait…

Now, jet lag is doing its course, I am more awake then I was at noon today, now it is 2,30 a.m. and I start to feel a bit tired.

See you next time with another update, as I am still working on some posts regarding New York…so, the last one, but not forever!

When in New York: One of three, of dried grubs, food tasting and communication issues

August 23rd

Chinatowns in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens

On the last day in New York, and after my usual breakfast with a bagel and a small coffee, once checked out and dropped both my backpacks at the hostel’ storage, I took the 7 train from Queensboro Plaza (some meters away Queens Plaza) until the last stop of the line, Flushing Main Street, hectic centre of the biggest and most populated of the three Chinatowns in New York. There are around half a million Chinese within New York population, living in the three Chinatowns of Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. The two I had the chance to visit while in the city were the last two of them. There is a basic difference between those two, which one may easily imagine. The one in Manhattan, as the Little Italy you have a few meters away, is more tourist than the one in Queens. I do not add much to the experience I had while crossing Chinatown’s main streets in Manhattan, as I was working with groups of students and did not have the chance to see much and have a full impression of the place.

However, Chinatown in Manhattan is still incredibly different from the other parts of Manhattan and it is not only totally touristic, there is of course a really high density of Chinese people, shops, restaurants, food stands selling particular fruits and vegetables you would not find anywhere else, stores selling fish and meat in all possible versions, Chinese versions of Central Park, where a few people stand and sing traditional Chinese songs, dance in ways to me totally unknown, sit and play traditional Chinese games, almost in the same way as people play chess in the middle of Central Park. But also, there you have a lot of souvenirs shops, something missing in Flushing Chinatown. And this is actually something quite funny, as I actually took the train to Flushing of course for curiosity – I had heard a lot of good stuff about it! – but also to go and buy some souvenirs, since I heard that also in New York Chinese shops would sell cheap souvenirs!

The Chinatown in Flushing, upper east Queens

My trip to Flushing took more or less half an hour, which surprised me a bit as I still did not relate well to distances in New York, and also overvalued the subway. Of course it is a great thing not to change means of transportation to cross half a city, but it does still take the time it needs! As you experience during every subway trip in New York, such as when three Mexicans get in the train playing a typical energetic melody, or a couple of young musicians plays and sings a two minute excerpt of The Beatles’ “Come Together”, the way to Flushing was a continuous introduction of a variety of people. Starting from a concentration of Spanish native speakers – probably many Colombians as I have been meeting quite many during my time in New York – the car I was traveling in started to get emptier meanwhile it was welcoming more and more people from the Far East. One door closing after the other I hear less and less English through my ears. A woman begs in Spanish to be later followed, during the same journey between a stop and the next one, by a man playing a melancholic melody sang in Spanish. Flushing is the next one. The few steps on the stairs out of the subway undergrounds always saw me with really low expectations and excitement about the new destination to explore. In Flushing I was welcomed by foreign languages, little English or better not any at all, delicacy smells, specific places where to send money to other countries, and people singing and shouting what was probably religious songs and others, and planes flying low while approaching either the really close La Guardia or the JFK airport in southern Queens

New stuff I learned about Chinatown(s) in New York

  • 6 different Chinese newspapers are issued and read every day!
  • Most of the shops, at least those in Flushing Chinatown, do not accept credit card
  • Food is extremely cheap
  • English is almost not spoken at all

 

As some of you may have noticed, I am a limitless crazy food lover, and give me a place where to taste traditional food from places I am not used to and where I know I will probably not go back in a close future, and it will be hard for me to actually find the willingness to leave that spot. I went around Chinatown checking out shops selling every possible thing one needs for daily life, passing by tens of shops selling fresh vegetables, bakeries showing beautiful colorful decorated cakes in the sop windows, people selling small paper or glass decorations by the sidewalks.

I firstly went into a cafeteria to realize everything was written in Chinese, and asking in English if they had dumplings and whether they accepted cards as payment, the answer to both was no.

I therefore went around a bit, to later come back and enter a place I had seen just directly after my exit from the subway, some minutes before. Nobody spoke English there, and when asking the same questions as in the previous place, I was sent by one of the ladies working there to another lady sitting by a table in front of the food showed for the guests. Our conversation was then made of me asking in English, this lady asking in Chinese to another woman about credit cards and cash withdrawal, to then being back to me with the answer, in very clean American English. At the door next to this traditional Chinese cafeteria, I took some cash and went back to order a soup and six dumplings, paid in total only $4,5. New tastes and a talk with a Colombian woman, in Spanish

I moved to another place, to attracted by all these locals getting in fast and buying even before saying what they wished to eat, unfolding their knowledge of the place and food served there, of trust for the deli’s owners. Prices were crazy cheap here as well.  For what you see in the picture, I paid around 6 dollars. However, I met a woman from Colombia who sat in front of me at one of the tables placed in front of the cash and food desk. People from the area sat in silence one in front of the other while sitting and chewing their food, but someone from Italy and one from Colombia find it quite difficult to be quiet while sitting so close and eating a meal. So with not a few problems I started to exchange some words in Spanish, things got incredibly better – on a low scale from bad to a bit better – and we could actually get the conversation going on, and shared some of our food while talking. Something I decided to really do while I was struggling with my Spanish talk, unconsciously putting in some Swedish words in it, is to actually finally focus on the Spanish language. Probably not by chance I had bought the Spanish version of “Hundreds Years of Solitude” just before leaving to New York…will definitely have to dig in those pages as soon as I will be back in Malmö!

Later on I chose one of these many bakeries on the main street to have a final food break, or better what in Sweden they would call a “fika”, or better a coffee, accompanied by a sweet thing. However, for me it was rather something sweet, in this case a cheesecake in Japanese style, and a sweet coconut rice ball filled with mango pieces, with a coffee aside. Many sitting at a table by their own, reading a newspaper or just siping their coffee and making small pieces to be eaten out of the small sweet delicacy they had in front of them.

Almost rolling out of the store, but really happy for my innumerable and indescribable tastes of good and cheap food, as well as getting around in a very original place,

In the same way as it happened with New York, which I would never think to fall in love with so easily and deeply, Chinatown in Flushing, upper east side of the borough Queens, made me very fascinated by Asian culture, although I only spent a few hours through Flushing main street and only saw a little part of the all thing. However, it was a quite intense experience:

 

Thoughts about You

Dear New York and New Yorkers

Traveling always makes me grow but oh new York, I have never been thinking so much about the last years as I have been doing by sitting in a Subway train or walking around at midnight in a totally lit Times Square. With gazes around, although really limited human contact to be perceived.

Dear New York, your noisy Subway trains make me wish for silence, but the silence I perceive around and among people makes me wanna go and talk to strangers.

Dear New York, you got me lost on a first night crossing from the eastern side to the centre where I could have asked a lot of people, but still I chose to walk around and take myself to the right street after a few attempts.

Dear New York, you opened my eyes to a personality of chaos lover, people lover and independency, excitement and outgoing pattern. I already knew this about myself, but in Sweden often this side of my personality does not always find a comfortable place to stay. I cannot breathe without thinking of you, never sleeping city and city of nobody and everyone.

Your chaos pushes me to tranquility, your contrasts pull me to balance. The noise of trains driving fast from the platform makes me appreciate silence, a silence to chose and not to be forced in.

Dear New York, I just feel at home now. Turning my head from the screen while writing on my phone, in order to check the subway stop, I notice my stop was just coming in the exact time I lifted my head. Blindly walking towards the exit, Queens Plaza South and Jackson avenue and soon I’ll be in bed.

I sit at the airport, soon on my way to Rome, but I am not sad any longer, ‘cause New York, I’ll come back soon.

Dear Sweden, I am still thinking of you, and will ever do.

Versione 2

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Versione 2

When in New York: of new bagels spreads and an island in two states

Once another breakfast

So, to continue the series of the one bagel a day challenge, the place my friend and I headed to yesterday morning was called Leo’s bagel, close to Stone st., in downtown Manhattan, a hundreds steps from Battery Park, about which I have been writing a bit in one of the previous posts. This time I had a coffee and a bagel with tuna spread (or shmear, to say it the American way), which was quite filling and kind of a bit too much to have as a breakfast, but it definitely paid off as I did not need any other food all the way until late dinner around 10 p.m. Besides this, at first one may think a bagel and a coffee may not be worth those eight or nine dollars you usually have to pay – not only ‘cause you are in New York which is an expensive city, but also because bagel sellers do fill bagels with much more schmear than they would do in other places – but if you think it is gonna cover you from the morning until 5/6 p.m., therefore serving as two meals, you may change your idea. Or at least this is what happened to me!

Liberty Island – Liberty Enlightening the World

Later on we walked towards Battery Park, kind in a hurry as we reserved ourselves a really chill breakfast time by sitting at a little square close to the bagel place. But we made it in time by picking up tickets, went through security checks – actually had the greatest time going through security as one of the agents was so fun and really kind to us. I have really never had so much fun from being at security! We boarded on a quite full boat heading to Liberty Island, namely the island where statue of Liberty is located. Now I have gotta tell you that good luck was not on my side this time and I noticed quite at the start of the first stop of the visit (namely while on Liberty Island) that my camera was running out of battery. So, the few pictures I got are of myself under the Statue of Liberty, and of the surroundings one sees from the Island. Quite surprisingly it took around three hours for my friend and I to go around the island, and we took another boat to reach Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum in the afternoon, around 3/4 p.m.

Ellis Island and the Immigration Museum

The Museum is distributed on three floors, starting from the ground level with rooms presenting migration to the US starting from the 1800s until today. Reasons to leave and to reach not whichever place but the United States are brought up and explained, along with different patterns of migration, naming more than once terms such as “push and pull factors”, “chain migration”, all part of my major’s topic in the program I am studying in Sweden, International Migration and Ethnic Relations. Migration is surely something I feel closer day after day, as I am now living in Sweden since four years – starting my fifth here, crazy stuff! – and I do travel enough to be able to feel at home after only a few days spent in a new place, which has his pros and cons of course!

Throughout the museum there were also two auditoriums, one of which I actually entered to sit and watch a 30 minutes long movie about the journey that millions of Europeans and Asians started to reach the US, and the procedures they had to go through once they approached the island, which, something I was really surprised to learn about, is actually half in the state of New Jersey (the island itself, or better all the land surrounding the building)  and half in the state of New York (the building and the museum theirselves)

Relaxing evening, blog updating and talking with strangers

I see my last evening as the highest representation of a traveler always willing and stepping out of her comfort zone. I had a strange feeling the first day I was here by myself, feeling probably too alone and tired, but I later overcame this mood and explored from morning to afternoon, going around during evenings to get some food and meet new people, wandering at nights, thinking a lot while sitting in subway trains.

So, the evening went on by getting ready to go to a Couchsurfing meet up on a rooftop bar, to later reach the avenue that bar was at, and change my mind about my plan. I then instead sat at a Chipotle restaurant (an American chain serving Mexican food and really good rice bowls among the others!) and got the chance to sit and talk to another travel who had just arrived in New York and would stay for a few days. Had a nice and talkative dinner time to later start to go around and have a nice walk all the way from 26th to Times Square on 42nd, and all the way back to take the train home.

Once back at the hostel I was planning to sit in the common living room while updating my blog but I got once more the chance to have a nice talk with another traveller, until I really noticed how tired I was and went back to my room. Getting prepared for the next day of exploration!

See you for the next update!

When in New York: of missed museum visits, food experiences in Astoria, and an emptier Times Square than usual

As mentioned in the previous post, one of the challenges I chose for my short stay in New York, was to try every morning a different place where to have breakfast, which can traditionally be summarized in a bagel and a cup of coffee, although different versions are of course present as well.

The chosen spot for this morning breakfast was Bagels & Schmear, where I chose to fill my bagel with a sun-dried tomato cream cheese, with a coffee aside. I ate together with a guy I met at the hostel the day before, sitting in Madison Square Park, a quite relaxing spot in Midtown Manhattan. People-watching is an amazing and common activity here in New York, whether you are sitting on a train passing 20 stops before your final destination, crossing districts and boroughs, or actually sitting in a square or while waiting for someone.

The weather started to chill down a bit and walk was necessary for me at least not to start to feel cold. We walked and took a train (keep in mind that every time I will say the word train I will actually mean Subway) towards Brooklyn, therefore including a crossing of the channel. Our destination was the New York Transit Museum if it hadn’t been that once there we realized that the museum is closed on Mondays. Not too bad as there were plenty of stuff to do and among these we picked the American Indian Museum, located in downtown Manhattan, between Battery Park and Broadway.

After that I have been heading back to the hostel to relax a bit and upload my blog, to later head to Queens Astoria and eat lunch at a place called “Lite Bites”. This area, or better this crossing, between Steinway Street and Broadway, is one of the many examples of the many varied faces that the long avenue called Broadway actually shows here in New York.

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I ordered my lunch in a place where Spanish was the main language one could hear, and I felt so immersed in it that I felt an impulse to speak Spanish to the waitress, to shortly after realize I definitely not have enough knowledge to keep going like that.

After that I have been drinking some tea at Prince Tea House just on Steinway Street. Later, I quickly stopped at the hostel to get ready to go to Times Square, where I would meet some friends who are still working at the camps I have been working at during the last weeks. Yesterday Rockafeller Center hosted the MTV VMA Awards, starting from 9 p.m., which made Times Square, but also other central venues as well as restaurants, pubs and other places, look emptier than they usually are, which is definitely something that does not happen that often! However, trains and traffic where at a quite high peak!

The evening ended with one of my friends and me having a coffee close to Bryant’s Park, a short walk away from Times Square, to then head back home and notice that one of the Subway lines was close that night, which made us take instead a connecting subway train to reach home. Tired enough, I later sat in the hostel’s living room to update my blog and plan tomorrow’s (today’s) day.

To-do-list for the following day

Visit at Ellis Island and Liberty Island

Exploring Queens

When in New York: of bagels and black coffees, artistic Subway cars, intense museum experiences and Hawaian rice bowls

Bagels and Coffee

As the title may recall, the first full day staying by myself at a hostel in Queens, New York, started with a bagel quite late in the morning. I could finally enjoy a ten hours sleep after having lost quite many sleep hours while working in NJ, and I decided to walk some blocks on Jackson Avenue, starting from the hostel I am staying at, named Q4 hostel, to get breakfast.

The bagel place I reached after a fifteen minutes walk – which should have actually been twenty-five, but as many of those who know me know, I am definitely a fast walker – is called Bricktown Bagels & Cafe, and is more precisely located on Vernon Blvd, which I found on a website listing 15 best bagel shops in Queens. I am at the moment not able to upload any photo taken by myself of neither my breakfast nor the place, but just so you know a bagel does not only need to be an empty “donut-shaped” bread, but it is mostly often filled with whatever cream cheese, or heavy mix one could think of.  Some examples are salmon salad, chicken salad, vegetarian mixed or redbeet mix, with many many more. But that does not end here, from being filled by only a thin layer of cream cheese, often called “schmear”, a bagel can actually end up into a super huge multilayer sandwhich. In case you have not noticed yet, I love bagels and the fact that they are traditionally eaten by American breakfast tables, makes everything more interesting and exciting to try. So first stop was Bricktown Bagels & Cafe, next one tomorrow will be Bagels & Schmear, in Midtown Manhattan. More updates will come and this time I promise I won’t miss to take pictures 😉 By the way, below you can still see how the place I visit today looks like both outside and inside 🙂

 

 

Without Subway one could not survive in New York. It is something I have heard dozens of times but now I really know how true that is! I now feel like I can orientate at a minimum required level necessary not to get lost and find myself in the jungle alike Subway concentration of stops in New York, after experiencing a shocking moment when I tried to take myself from New Jersey to Penn Station and then Times Square a few days ago, and my head was just so confused!

What happened in the subway cars I have been going in since yesterday feels like something hard to describe. People wearing red clothes and wearing a sombrero, playing Mexican music and bringing all the joy of this world with tired passengers looking through the windows with endless gazes listening to music on a Sunday morning. Trains as full as every hour was rush hour, although it’s a Sunday, although it’s 11.00 a.m. Almost in every train you take there is gonna be some particular dude bringing with them some snacks or drinks to offer. Or better said, what these people usually say when entering the train cars is basically: “these food is free, if you are hungry please take some”, and then they go basically saying bad things about the fact that people do not even make offers. After that they change cars keeping doing the same stuff again and again.

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9/11 Memorial and 9/11 Museum

So my day started with a bagel and continued with some getting arounds by train to reach World Trade Center, which is actually quite smooth to do starting from Queens Plaza, as you just need to take a train to Manhattan on the E line. It was raining a little, very very little but still it was not too nice to be outside, so I decided that today would be a perfect day to spend a few hours in a museum, and so the 9/11 museum was my choice. During the last weeks I have been visiting the memorial quite many times, meaning the two huge fountains placed where Ground Zero took place before, and which cover the mark of the foundation of the two twin towers which collapsed following the hijacking of 9/11.

 

The light of the entrance of the museum embodies a peace which you also feel by standing by the memorial, two big and deep fountains as I described before. But the atmosphere changes after the access to the museum, which admission itself excluding a guided tour, costs £24 for an adult. Reduced prices are available for US students, members etc. The main hall is a bright atrium, from which one can reach an upper floor hosting an auditorium and a cafè, and the lower floor from where the actual museum starts. This underground floor is quite dark, a symbol of the darkness experienced by the people victims of 9/11 as well as the terror, sadness and grief which are still alive.

 

 

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Some different food

In the afternoon I started to log in on my couchsurfing profile again after a few weeks. I so got in contact with a girl living in NY who is though from California. We hanged out and had dinner together at a place called Poke Burrito on 30th Avenue, one of the main streets of Queens, which I easily reach from my hostel, taking the N train for two stops up to Astoria. The avenue is really active and energetic, a lot of life, which made me fall in love with the neighborhood right after. I’ll be most likely be around the more central parts of Queens as I am interested to explore its multicultural vibes. I really enjoyed my short visit in this borough as I felt it really close to how I personally am, it kind of embodies my state of mind, my inner soul, if that sounds like a good description 🙂

Music lessons and blog updating

Later in the evening I went with my laptop downstairs to the common room of the hostel, so I could publish some updates on the blog. I met here a guy who is traveling around a few days before moving to Philadelphia where he will study at university. We chatted a bit about living abroad and then he played some music with a ukulele. Relaxing evening planning what do to the next day.

Monday, new week new explorations. Also the week I will be heading back to Italy, but luckily it still feels so far away from today!

When in New York: of festivals in Battery Park, day itinerary and last days of work.

From a couple of days before August 18th.

My weeks as a team leader for the different welcome camps in New York are almost over. A couple of more days and I will pack my stuff and move instead to Q4 Hotel, a welcoming hostel in Queens around Queensboro Plaza, half an hour walk from eastern Manhattan. Really looking forward to that as Queens is the biggest borough of New York by area, and the second one for population. Besides that, Queens is also the most multicultural borough, with 138 languages spoken in the area, along with streets populated by stands selling foods from all over the world, with concentration of food characteristic of specific countries, such as Greek food in Astoria, Indian food in Jackson Heights and so on. But now I am still in the middle of welcome camps, getting closer to tomorrow which will be what we like to call “airport day”: early mornings helping students from the previous camp to check in and drop them at security, and long afternoons, evenings and sometimes nights spent at the airport to pick up the newcomers for the next camp.

The last two days have been a concentration of extreme weather, thunderstorms and thousands of delayed and cancelled flights. Students had their flights cancelled and rebooked for the next day, and some of those flights got also cancelled! Crazy stuff uh? But definitely I am learning

Battery Park – A different view of the Statue of Liberty

Downtown in western Manhattan is a park called Battery Park. Having the eastern side on Battery Road, it borders with lower Broadway on a side, having the chance to reach Wall Street and the Stock Exchange with a 10 minutes walk, as well as to see the Charging Bull , although a photo with no people around is to consider almost impossible to take.

Battery Park hosts a variety of festivals throughout the year. Starting from March until September, theatre and ballet shows are arranged and right now the Battery Dance Festival is going on, a free festival which started on the 11th of August and will end on the 18th of the same month.

Battery Park can be a good place for a lunch break in a relaxing area after having visited Ellis Island. Both Staten Island ferry, which has free tickets, and Ellis Island ferry, which ticket of around £20 also includes a visit to the Ellis Island Immigration Museum, leave from the Whitehall terminal just close by Battery Park. A good idea can be to take the ferry to the museum starting from an early morning.

But I will write more about all this and much more when I will be at the hostel and recovered some hours of sleep I feel I lost already a month ago.

Take care you who read this update and hope you will be looking forward to the next one!

P1080150

When in New York: of blog updates in coffee bars, contrasts all around and weather alerts

Almost three weeks have passed by since I took my first steps outside Europe, in the US and especially in New York. These days have been incredibly intense, but while working I got the chance to go around quite much and experience the overall mood one can feel while walking around in New York City.

The city is huge, but I am surely not the first noticing it and surely there is not much to add to it. But one thing I have been surprised to realize is that New York is at least not as chaotic as I thought before coming here. You will understand more of what I mean by reading my future updates from the Big Apple and by seing pictures of quiet places taken just in the middle of the city. However, what I can tell already now is that besides a few places to definitely avoid in case you are not crowd and cahos lover or easily get in panic when too much people is around and you feel like you can’t find an escape, there are thousands of venues along which you would just feel as in whichever other smaller city than the huge New York.

But going back to what I was writing before, the US have never attracted me before the experience I am having right now. I have always thought I wanted to travel through European countries in the first place, especially because of economic reasons and because there is a lot to see just starting from Europe. But during spring I received this job and here I am now, writing and completing this blog post from a coffee bar named Gregory’s Coffee, just a few feet from Times Square.

As a chaperon for exchange students the job can sound quite repetitive because of the guided tour following a similar common itinerary from time to time, but it is not at all as boring as it may sound. We often meet different guides who decide how much to focus on the one or the other venue included within the day itinerary. In this way not only we learn a lot of different things about different monuments and attractions every day, but also new ones showed by locals whom you probably otherwise would never get in touch with!

So, beside a general orientation I developed while going around in New York but also by learning and remembering meeting points for bus departures, I am learning quite much about some specific places. I have got some pictures of them and will likely be updating them on a ‘soon-to-come’ blog post or just insert them just in this one during the next days. What they will mostly refer to is Central Park, Rockefeller Center, the 9/11 Memorial, Greenwich Village, Chinatown, Dumbo and a few more. But all this will soon come!

After only a few hours in the US, I was caught by some differences in daily life compared to European habits. I have got two small ones and both refer (ofc, I may add!) to airport experience. The first one is that when you do payments you do not leave the card inside but rather need to take it out in order to complete the payment! Another one is about luggage claim rules…So, in European airports you cannot go and pick up a passenger without waiting outside the security zone, but have to wait until they have picked up their luggage, right? Here instead, people coming from domestic flights only, do not need to wait up to a few hours to meet their family or friends or others, because they will be waiting for them already at the luggage claim. Crazy uh?

Today is a thunderstorm scheduled day. 100% chance of rain throughout daylight hours, so alarms have been going on from different devices I found myself around to. This is particular in the US, as for what I heard they send this “catastrophic sounding” weather alerts a lot more often than one would actually like to hear.

Will start to go now, hope you will enjoy my updates from New York!

https://youtu.be/h_m-BjrxmgI

New York vibes – Preparation mood

Time has almost come for me to pack a relatively big deal of stuff in two backpacks and get on my first flight to outside Europe. First time in the US and outside Europe at all. I have personally never been attracted by the US or thrilled to go outside Europe so soon, or at least before I had travelled all European countries, which could still take several months/years to be done with. But then I applied to a job, and the working placement I was offered is indeed in New York City. It has been quite a surprise as I was applying for a job for another kind of trip and another destination, and how not take the chance of instead traveling to NY?

Adrenalin has been on its way in the last 24 hours, and I hope for another series of blog updates regarding this trip and different experiences gathered there. Tomorrow I will head home to Rome, a last serie of health checks and then will be flying to NY on Saturday evening.

Preparation mood soundtrack? Morricone, Wrabel and Ure!

 

 

Från frivillig till praktikant – Praktik på Malmökretsen HT18 (I)

I början av september tar jag mina första steg som praktikant på Malmökretsen av Svenska Röda Korset. Med detta och andra kommande blogginlägg vill jag informera och uppdatera om min erfarenhet som praktikant. 

Nu befinner jag mig i en varm Rom, precis två månader innan min praktik på Svenska Röda Korset ska ta sin början i Malmö. Efter att ha flyttat till Malmö från Italien, och efter två år i Värmland, jag började närma mig till Röda Korsets uppdrag genom att delta i aktiviteter såsom projektet “Kul på Hjul” aktivt i Malmö, samt sommarläger anordnade av olika behandlingscenter för krigsskadade och torterade. Detta gav mig en första inblick i områden där Röda Korset arbetar aktivt för att förbättra personernas vardagen i en stad där befolkningen visar väldigt varierade sociala, ekonomiska och kulturella bakgrunder, vilket tyvärr oftast leder till minskade framtids möjligheter.

Röda Korset jobbar mot sitt syfte av välgörenhet genom ett gemensamt och frivillig engagemang för att nå ett så likt och jämnt samhälle som möjligt. Som jag skrev innan, Malmö är rik av kulturella skillnader, vilket gör att Röda Korset intensivt fokuserar på aktiviteter som möjliggör integration i varje stund av vardagen. Detta nås i Malmö genom insatser i olika stadsdelar och mötesplatser såsom till exempel biblioteken, andra hands butiker, och så vidare. Trots att det ingår elva olika verksamheter inom områden “migration och integration”, vilket visas som det största del av insatserna i Malmö för tillfället, Malmökretsen också organiserar samling, stöd och hjälp insatser kring områden “konflikt och katastrof” och “hälsa och social delaktighet”, och givetvis tar hand om insamling och föreningsutveckling.

Personligen är jag intresserad av processer som utvecklar vid relationer mellan personer av olika ursprung, svårigheter som uppkommer när någon flyttar till ett annat land, och det psykologiska sida av denna sort av situationer. Jag ska börja mitt tredje och sista år av kandidatprogrammet i International Migration och Ethnic Relations som erbjuds på Malmö Universitet, av vilket min praktik på Röda Korset kommer bli den femte terminen, för att sen ta examen i juni 2019. Under de två år som jag har bott i Malmö har jag samlat lite erfarenhet i integrations insatser, såsom det som bedrivs av Stiftelsen Läxhjäpen, en insamlingsstiftelsen som erbjuder gratis läxhjälp till högstadielever med det tydliga syfte att höja möjligheter att börja gymnasiet. Där har jag jobbat som läxhjälpare, något jag har sen gjort frivilligt inom föreningen Maracana som också vill främja vänlighet och gemensamhet för att uppskatta varje människa likadant, tack vore deras olikheter.

Med detta första inlägg vill jag därför börja en period av uppdatering kring min praktik på Röda Korset i Malmö som kommer börja första veckan i september och sluta ungefär fem månader senare. Jag kommer berätta mina känslor före, under och efter min erfarenhet på kontoret, vilken sort uppgifter jag kommer att tilldelas, hur jag kommer ändra min insikt i Röda Korset insatser, samt min uppfattning av Röda Korset i det stora, både mer nationellt och kanske internationellt sagt.

Till nästa blogginlägg då!
Rossella

https://kommun.redcross.se/malmo/

p.s. Jag publicerade detta inlägg först på Röda Korsets öppen blogg på intranätet Rednet

Convenzione di Ginevra e dintorni – Uno sguardo sui minori accompagnati in arrivo in Europa e Svezia

Articolo scritto mesi fa ma mai pubblicato. In arrivo un seguito relativo alla Convenzione di Ginevra e alla Convenzione di Dublino in relazione al caso di respingimento dalla costa Italiana della nave Aquarius.

La Convenzione di Ginevra dètta nell’articolo 33 il principio di non-refoulement, o meglio di non respingimento verso ambienti di guerra, conflitti o discriminazioni che possano mettere a rischio la sopravvivenza delle persone in questione. A prescindere dall’effettiva accoglienza o respingimento della richiesta d’asilo inoltrata nel paese raggiunto, questo è un principio fondamentale del diritto internazionale, che molti stati non stanno rispettando.

Migliaia di minori accompagnati sono arrivati ed ancora arrivano in Europa con la speranza di poter costruire una vita qui per poi sostenere le loro famiglie finanziando a distanza la loro sopravvivenza (esatto, le stesse rimesse che ad esempio gli italiani mandavano dagli Stati Uniti verso le loro famiglie, specialmente nel Sud Italia, 1880 ed il 1915, per poi continuare nel secondo dopoguerra).

Anche all’eta di soli dodici anni gli viene trasmessa la responsabilità di intraprendere questi viaggi massacranti, magari con i fratelli più piccoli, svolgendo il loro ruolo adulto che gli viene trasmesso dall’ambiente culturale ma anche come conseguenza della maturità raggiunta nell’atmosfera di guerra dalla quale provengono.

Io di afghani ne ho incontrati, ad alcuni faccio ripetizioni e parlano lo svedese senza problemi dopo meno di un anno in Svezia, altri cercano di fare del loro meglio a scuola, altri ancora fanno km in treno per riunirsi con amici dello stesso paese ed anche in poche ore ritrovare quella familiarità dalla quale sono scappati, altri ancora fanno il loro meglio per trovare amici del luogo e a cui raccontare della loro cultura e cercare di dimenticare le disgrazie che hanno testimoniato.

Le ambasciate di quasi tutti i paesi del mondo definiscono l’Afghanistan un paese pericoloso e sconsigliano ai propri cittadini di recarvici, perché in caso di attentati il ministero degli esteri non potrebbe garantire protezione. Ma molti governi non si fanno problemi ad inviare in questo paese il resto degli essere umani che non hanno ricevuto protezione o non sono cittadini. O meglio, chi non è uno strumento per facilitare ed aumentare il potere e la sovranità di uno stato, a quanto pare non sembra meritare neanche di essere trattato con rispetto dei diritti internazionali firmati nel dopoguerra.

La Svezia ha negli ultimi giorni sospeso i rimpatri, che proprio dato le condizioni instabili del paese possono essere definite vere e proprie deportazioni, ma al contrario di come ci si aspetterebbe da un paese da tutti conosciuto come “generoso” non l’ha fatto a scopo umanitario, ma come conseguenza dell’attentato a Kabul della scorsa settimana, che ha richiesto il ritiro dalle ambasciate di alcuni funzionari diplomatici, quindi la mancanza di personale adatto all'”accoglienza” di coloro che dovrebbero essere deportati. E Amnesty International, ha denunciato l’UE per aver rimpatriato 10.000 afghani soprattutto da paesi come Germania, Olanda, Svezia e Norvegia (l’ultimo a sospeso da pochi mesi il processo).

http://www.ansa.it/sito/notizie/mondo/europa/2017/10/05/amnesty-accusa-ue-ha-rimpatriato-10.000-afghani-molti-uccisi-_8ff65206-1919-4d20-8dd2-da2a5e29aa0d.html

Of wisdom teeth and change of plans

There will come a day when you will think you have the time to relax and prepare for an internship interview.

Then you start to have pain around one of your wisdom teeth, and since you had a bit of fever and a handful of sores in your mouth, you just think everything can be bought with the “it all comes from that teeth”. So you go to the dentist who also thinks it may come from that, and also tells you that the teeth sooner or later will need to be taken out. Ok, you take your time and decide that yeah, sooner or later something a bit more serious would happen here in Sweden that would lead to some kind of smaller operation to be carried out in a kind of foreign environment. Good news, it was not that bad, except for the anesthesia injection in the palate, which hurt a lot and made me surely look like one of those characters in the tv-series “The Bridge”. Bad news, fever, tiredness and sore throat were not caused by that, as I realized I was already sick.

Long story short, my uninvited guests bacterias are dealing now with a relative big dose of antibiotics and I am doing my best to recover, keep preparing for my internship interview which was moved because of this, and enjoy the time with my parents who just today arrived to Malmö to visit me. Reeeally relaxing and relieving, especially after some days being sick, alone and abroad, which may be one of the most lonely things I have ever experienced. However, I got a take home exam, yes exactly, regarding just those really exciting books in project management, which however I actually think is really interesting and useful. I will do my best to write it during next week or I will take the next chance.

Now everything is basically focused on the internship, which I promise I will reveal more about, once I will have finally had the interview, which hopefully will go well! Hopefully I will be able to apply for funds and have a different experience next semester, living here, “working but not working” (as internship included in the university curricula are not to be paid) on a 40 hours basis.

Today was the third day of high temperatures, a Spring day which we will not see again at least for a couple of weeks ahead. I was feeling better, thanks also to my super kind neighbor who biked late in the evening to buy me the antibiotica!, and sat by the window in the sun, managing to even get tant! Incredible, is not it? 😉

However, a last news of the week was the positive response I got regarding the summer job I think I had mentioned in the last posts. I got an offer and I will wait for the contract, but if nothing goes wrong, I should be heading to New York around the end of July and stay a month. More news to come!

Will keep you updated!

 

Updates from the warm(er) north

As I wait for my pasta to be ready I draft a short update about the happenings of the last weeks.Every year I am surprised by how Spring happens to blossom quite late “in Spring” here in Malmö, and you go from January, when you realize how long you will still have before you can get some Sun that actually warms the air, to April when all of a sudden you are like “Oh well, in a couple of months I will actually be able to lay in swimsuit and get tanned!”. This start of the Spring here in Malmö got myself busy with a couple of activities regarding my life in Malmö, my future internship and some summer plans.

This week I was following a lecture that a teacher I know at Malmö University was giving regarding a research she had on unaccompanied children in Malmö. After that, I followed her to this venue, were the association Maracana is having their activities. Maracana is a really interesting project, which aims at integrating in the broader meaning of the concept. The idea is that one should always have a basic net of connection to ask to in case of help, and a place where to meet if feeling alone. Maracana is offering help for a lot of things may be need help with, such as homework, cvs, languages and so on, feel at home, have a chat….but still I feel like I have not explained the concept of the all thing properly! So why do not you come by and take a look? Want to know more? Check this page out, many infos still have to be updated but it will come soon 🙂

Regarding the internship semester, I have applied and still am applying for internship places for next autumn, to be included as a part of my elective semester. However, a couple of days ago I got an interview which will take place this coming week, and I am doing my best to prepare for it.

School is just keeping me busy as much as it usually does, although the difference now is that I have, beside the study of kind of boring books about project management, also the internship to look for, the interview to prepare for, and this engagement with the association, which gives me a lot of energy!

Summer still has to be planned, although what’s sure is a Swedish graduation celebration as my host sister is done with high-school, and I will head to the wild Värmland at the start of June. I am also waiting to receive an answer for a summer job, so this will do for a clearer idea of how my summer is gonna look like.

I will do my best to keep this blog as updated as I used to do a couple of years ago, also to keep track and leave trace of the weeks and time passing by so fast!

Changes

 

One day you are waiting for an answer regarding a spot for your coming exchange year. Would that be Denmark? Or Sweden?

Had it been Denmark now you probably would not stare hopelessly and speechless at some girls in the same hostel room as you hardly try to understand what they are saying, thinking of Danish as a mouth-mashing-biting-potato-sounding-like-tongue. Had it not been Sweden, or no exchange year at all, you probably would not be totally confused about what you want to do after your bachelor’s, as a consequence of dozens of stuff happening in the last few years. Keep moving? Or not? Keep staying? For what?

After a few years being fluent in Swedish, you still cannot understand why people think Stockholm dialect sounds posh. To you is just the cleanest and sweetest way one can speak this language. But you know that you will never have the same perspective on dialects as you do on those of your own mother tongue, as others do.

From that day in 2013, a warm evening of August sitting on my huge luggage trying to lock it, a blue one which I now use to collect all the stickers I buy during my trips abroad, to a cold evening of early Spring, 2018. I am now preparing for a presentation to be done tomorrow, as I applied for a summer job with the same agency through which I was exchange student. Year after year I looked at the job offers to every time realize my age would not allow me for that, but now I will hopefully jump, once again, on the other side of the exchange experience.

Spring is approaching here in Malmö. Back to a year ago, when my foot reached an origin of warmth crossing the corner of the window. Or even one and a half year ago, just moved in, autumn taking its first steps in a welcoming and embracing street still filled with that gaudy green, holding a mug of that strange instant coffee which often has the power to make me feel at home, wherever I am. And that so long missed Spring is again on its way back. Will be drinking a warm cup of tea because what Swedes call Spring, is just too cold for an Italian after all. An average temperature between 0 and 10° and trees still naked from their pastel colored duvet, just now, when they indeed would most need it, is nothing close to the Spring I am used to. But for sure it is a glad reborn I really need right now.

And now back to sounds and smells which are said to remind of moments, people, sensations and home feeling, or that have the power to make you home sickness in most unexpected moments.

You left, left people behind and some kept walking besides you, with you understanding how miles do not and should not count, but do have a meaning.

Change the book, but keep the bookmark in that one your heart says.

 

 

Vuoto riempitivo

Di quelli di cui a volte c´è bisogno per rivalutare la pienezza che invece abbiamo sempre a nostra disposizione, nonostante grandi difficoltà a riconoscerla. Uno sconvolgimento di ruoli, tempi, azioni, caratteri ed espressioni, che non per forza devono essere destinate a cancellare quelle precedenti, e neanche a negarle.

Un voler andare avanti ma con la voglia allo stesso tempo di fermare le lancette, che questi momenti sono indispensabili, e anche se al momento non sembra così, ti servono per aggrapparti ed emergere da questa confusa solitudine affollata di ricordi. Che forse solo ricordi non saranno mai.

Scrivere come passione e come sfogo di idee, che poi spesso le parole pronunciate  non hanno grande successo, tra i significati che ognuno di noi attribuisce a queste poche sillabe messe insieme, per finire in una seria di dubbi, domande, insicurezze e paure dei nostri stessi comportamenti, cercando di riempirle forzandoci di dargli un significato.

Un silenzio che vale mille parole

Scary Pumpkins and Memorial Candles

Biking fast from the little hill of Kirseberg, going through a neighbour called Värnhem and then all way through Nobelvägen, then turning right passing by an almost completely built building hosting hundreds of brand new apartments, then crossing the road going left, you will find yourself on a relatively large street accompanied on both sides by two of the three parts of St. Pauli Kyrkogård (Graveyard of Saint Paul). Namely, the part on your left brings the name of ”St.Pauli Mellersta Kyrkogård”, as being the central part among the three of them.

The 4th of November the sky covering the industrial city of Malmö was made out of different shades of pink, grey and blue, with a giant Sun setting down on the side of the Öresund bridge, still shining red around four in the afternoon. Paving the way to an almost mystic mixture and feeling, the atmosphere just seemed to be perfectly fitting the celebration of All Saint’s day, which, after a hundred years of change, moved to be celebrated first on the 1st of November, then on the first Sunday of November, and latest, as it is now, on the Saturday between the 31st of October and the 6th of November. Giving to it more or less religious meaning, it was probably after the Reformation that the celebration started to symbolize the start of the winter in Sweden. To lit candles to be put upon what is called “Minneslund” – a term for memorial grove in Swedish – brings together people whom for different reasons decide to visit a dark cemetery in the evening of Allahelgonasdag. In this way, the dark times of the coming autumn and winter are met with hope, memories and light, and whoever wants to remember someone lost in the past or only follow this really Swedish tradition feels welcomed by strangers’ gazes, eyes, shadows, thoughts, breaths and silent talks.

Although this is my fourth year I am spending in Sweden, before yesterday I had never had the chance to experience this particular day of the year. Walking through the graveyard, we could almost distinguish between different country divisions of the graveyard depending on how the different tombs looked like. Those memorial stones bigger and sticking out more than the others – some even looking like small mausoleums – showing a coloured picture of the deceased ones, with all objects which were once close to them,

In Italy, as far as I know, graveyards are usually locked when it gets dark, and this tradition of visiting them on All Saints’ Day would not be as easily adopted as it is in fact in Sweden, where graveyards use to be open day and night out, and are involved into the inhabitants lives as they are shaped within the city’s net.

A day which sometimes risks to be recalled as only awakening sad feelings, is instead an excuse here in Sweden to get out and get involved in activities and be introduced to the warm feeling of winter, experience the closeness and unity among the city’s inhabitants and your friends, important to focus on something else than only days getting shorter. The entire weekend calendar is usually scheduled with concerts, among the others requiems, as the one I was listening to yesterday in the church of Saint. Johannes by the central neighbourhood of Triangeln. When passing by Sweden during this weekend I warmly recommend to overcome your fear for darkness or scary graveyards and find one of the many “minneslunden” and get together with some locals. You may be surprised and maybe may end up into a magic and silent, and probably scary, place immersed in a forest, accompanied by children trying to scary each other when still feeling that last breath of the Halloween festivity.

Ritornando ai pensieri da treno

Grandi edifici nelle larghe vie della città di Malmö.

Tra poco le luci si spegneranno, con l’orario invernale che entrerà di nuovo in vigore tra poco più di una settimana. Il cemento allargherà ancora di più le ombre fredde che coprono un sole che già non scalda abbastanza. Ma più vita, più attività nasceranno in quella che fino a qualche decina di anni fa sembrava stesse per diventare una città fantasma. E la mente torna ai primi giorni presso l’università di Malmö,un anno fa, scaldando il pranzo con chiacchiere fatte con quelli che poi sarebbero stati tuoi amici entro pochi mesi. Uno sguardo fuori dalle vetrate sentendo il rumore di edifici che vengono distrutti e le prime fondamenta di un nuovo tessuto urbano. Che fa rumore mentre in bici attraversi la parte settentrionale della città, prima del semaforo sulla tua destra, curve da prendere strette evitando quei lavori in corso.

Un inverno all’altezza di Stoccolma che si sta avvicinando sempre più. Sul treno gli alberi tendono a sfumare verso gialli, arancioni, e marroncini che non vedi da nessuna altra parte, e che tardano ad arrivare nel sud della Svezia.

Il tentativo di sentirsi di nuovo a casa in una città dove hai vissuto per un anno. E un po’ ci riesci, ma senti che ormai casa tua è un’altra, che hai bisogno di diversità e qui vedi troppe facce svedesi, troppo simili l’una alle altre, troppi passi camminati alla stessa velocità ed una città troppo piccola. Che prima ti dava sicurezza per la familiarità che trasmetteva, la facilità con cui riuscivi a memorizzare posti e per i volti che incontravi spesso. Ora quando vai in giro, ti basta incrociare al massimo una persona che conosci, di più sarebbero troppe, e a Malmö ognuno sembra trovare il suo posto, hai difficoltà a percepire una maggioranza. Anzi spesso scherzi con qualcuno dicendo che qui gli svedesi sono la minoranza.

Chissà quanto tempo passerà prima di muoversi ancora, ma per ora, nonostante se ne parli spesso in termini negativi, Malmö è un posto che inizio a chiamare casa, quasi una piccola Londra che sta mettendo le sue radici, centinaia di ristoranti con cucina di tutto il mondo, festival musicali e cinematografici, ed il suo profilo, dalla terrazza dell’università, che assomiglia a città piene di grattacieli ai primi arbori, ancora, e sempre più, in costruzione.

 

I figli della guerra

Ho iniziato ad incontrarli

ed hanno visi cicatrizzati da rovi

che nel cammino non sono riusciti

a fermare la loro fuga

 

Non hanno più di dieci anni

alcuni sono forse segnati a vita

poche parole escono dalle loro bocche

occhi che nelle foreste non riescono più a chiudersi come vorrebbero

 

Di padri con cui non riescono più a giocare

le mine hanno segnato le loro gambe

dolori e stampelle all’ordine del giorno

solo discorsi senza sosta ad allontanarli dai ricordi

 

Qualcuno sdrammatizza

si parla di sciabole minacce e ricatti

i più grandi quasi sorridono

ai ricordi di quelle torture

 

Mi giro
un bambino di otto anni carica un pennarello
su un fucile di rami
impaurito, quasi abituato, prende la mira

 

 

 

Quel che rimane di svedese

La ciclabile che dal centro della città si muove a sud, dopo qualche chilometro si avvicina finalmente alla costa. L’intera area cittadina non coprirà più di ottanta chilometri quadrati, eppure le pedalate si sentono. Si sentono superando altri ciclisti, mettendo i pedoni davanti ad una scelta da fare, tanto velocemente quanto la sua importanza, e controllando ancora una volta se quell’autista ti farà passare. Da una zona collinare a nord-est, tra curve, qualche semaforo e salite, si passa dal respirare un’area quasi di villeggiatura, ad una di scambi di macchine e frenate, fino a quel moderno avvicendarsi di palazzi, per poi buttarsi in una distesa infinita di sabbia bianca.

Il momento migliore è quello del tramonto, quando con attenzione puoi concentrarti facendo appannare un po’ gli occhi, e accorgerti di linee che formano strutture simili a lego. La costa danese, che guardata seduti dal lato svedese non somiglia ad altro che un cumulo di cemento e continui lavori in corso, rimane un segreto nonostante la sua vicinanza. Che sa di sconosciuto come quei luoghi che da marinai di passaggio mai vennero visitati.

Una ricchezza che spetta di essere scoperta ed apprezzata attende in ogni angolo della città. Tra spari di cui si parla troppo, giovani creativi ed occhiali da vista tondi, troppo poco sgargianti e troppo costosi, si nasconde la bellezza di una città non per niente artistica o storicamente importante, che si costruisce con fatica, allargando le spalle e mettendoci di mezzo qualche risata, una particolarità tutta sua.

Poesie di maggio

Foglie che quasi già iniziano ad ingiallire fanno sembrare quei momenti di rinascita della natura ormai così lontani ed irreali. Si torna sui paesaggi verdi impressi guardando fuori dai vetri delle finestre di casa.

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Natura gigante

Così gigante che sembra
di non averti abbastanza,
anche quando quasi non si può di più

Fiori germogli fruscio tra gli alberi,
mattine calde e finestre dischiuse,
a lasciar entrare un odore di novità

Dopo mesi dischiusi in piumini
e case di candele, luce che non sapevi
potesse accecare così tanto

Serate al porto e
giacche al vento,
tramonto tardo e calore sui visi

Estate alle porte
nostalgia di quello che si lascia,
ritrovando il buio invernale

Aspettando di nuovo la primavera dell’anima
Scoprendo ogni volta come fosse la prima,
il maggio svedese

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Una serata di maggio

Città di visi, visi sconnessi.

Scarpe che toccano vetrine fredde,
in una primavera più che inoltrata.

Verde, colori, fiori, blu cielo.

Silenzio rumore noia.

Case chiuse e luci accese, autobus che brillano nel caos silenzioso
di una città in chiusura.

Corpi sereni e dritti, giacche al vento
e capelli all’aria.

Città di visi, visi connessi ai giovani occhi
da musica che ti porta altrove

Kiruna – Malmö

From my point of view, coming back from a trip and sleep from 3.30 pm to 5.30 a.m. the following day is sort of a symbol for the amount of knowledge, energy, experiences and people met throughout the journey. As I am asked about the beauty of the place I visit I am often confused on the answer I should give. What I feel, takes way more than a 5 rows typed chat on messenger or an international call where emotions are impossible to show because of the inability to show facial expressions. That answer is about a personal perception of the place, the people met at a jewelry or the ones sitting by you when drinking a coffee, talking about places and understanding each other’s jokes as you are from Italy and they are from France. It is to not longer feel alone, after starting to exchange some words with some Australians in what before was a very empty kitchen in the hostel you are sleeping at, to then walk with them in the midnight sun.

National Geographic tells aspiring writers that what they are looking for is not a description of what a specific place is or looks like, or which things one may look forward to check out from their bucket list. They mainly look for a “basic” and “simple” thing: to awake in the reader the desire and will to leave and travel, and to just visit that place. Personal experiences are the most important as they embody that human character which a dry list of monuments, attractions and museums, may fail to transmit.

No city other than Kiruna among the ones I have visited so far, better embodies the difference of feelings that the sentence “I am coming back, I promise”, carries from place to place, person to person. Nature leaves you speechless as sun never sets and your body is not longer able to understand how much energy you are actually eager for.

I will soon write more about the journey, and going to load a bunch of photos more 🙂

A bit norther

…and what in Swedish is called a “dagsutflykt”.

As sleeping issues are the new hobby, I thought it would me more ‘productive’ – apparently the only thing a student’s mind is set for – to sit and write on the blog, trying to write that post I was thinking about since Sunday.

Just this weekend has been again incredibly sunny and warm here in Malmö. I would say through all Sweden, as it uses to be when temperatures reaches the 20°, but Kiruna was an exception. I was scrolling the weather forecast when I saw that from South to North Sweden there was a difference of 20°, with snow in the top of the country and sun, happy and sweaty people on the bottom of it. I was deeply immersed into this crazy weather forecast when a minute later I realized that Kiruna would be my destination for a few days during the next week. But this is something I will write about when my deadlines . will be passed, and hopefully I will feel a bit less stressed with school work – stupid me, two extra courses did not really help, I guess!

So, back to Sunday, I woke up with a chill mood, realizing the sky full of strange shades of grey (oh how it sounds strange now doesn’t it?!) but later that bikers where going around with shorts and almost sweating. I messaged a friend asking whether she was up for a bike ride to Lund and back, as I had never tried it and neither did I have any laundry emergency going on, and one hour later we were biking on a 21 km path. Lund is a bit closer to where I live – ca 16 km by bike – but my friend thought we could have taken the chance to even reach Sularpsfarmen, in the little area of Sandby, to buy some eco vegetables and explore the area. After a very pleasant and quite fast ride, not without some google maps failures, we reached the place.

We had a very nice time enjoying the massive offer of vegetables, fruit, flowers and little snacks they sold. We first screened the place going through the market and just buying some chocolate snack and chips, then sat outside in the sun and recovering from biking. Then we went in again, chose among mushrooms, white asparagus and raspberry syrup. Then it started to rain (what a surprise!) but it was soon over so we biked to Lund, where we had ice cream and sat in a central square, enjoying the sun on a very special sort of armchairs.

On the way back there was head-wind, which together with the sun and a quite warm and humid air made the ride back a bit longer and tiring.

The great thing was to discover a longer part of bike paths in Malmö and Skåne than the one I am used to daily. There are more or less 800 km of walkable paths covered by the Skåneleden, and although not all parts may be reachable or practicable by bike, still many places are connected by bike paths, and more will come in the following years.

Something I would like to try soon is to bike to Bokskogen, just a bit southern of Malmö, visit the castle of Turup, probably camping or just as a day trip.

See you soon 🙂

Roots – Radici – Agli sgoccioli

A poche ore dalla nascita di un nuovo giorno, stanotte all’una e mezza ero nel mio letto, sfogliando le prime piccole pagine del libro “Foreign to Familiar – Understanding Hot and Cold Cultures”. Cercando di allontanarmi dall’effetto della caffeina di una tazza di caffè bevuta alle diciannove e trenta, mi sono ritrovata a leggere ed immaginare quello che mi sono sempre ripetuta, per poi riconoscerlo nei caratteri stampati su pagine ingiallite. Siamo in un momento di cambiamenti, continui, giornalieri, la vita va sempre più veloce e la cosa che probabilmente potrebbe spaventare è che non sembriamo rendercene conto.

La percezione della vita e dello sviluppo da giovane a “persona realizzata” è cambiata incredibilmente da quella che era “solo” vent’anni fa. Chi voleva fare qualcosa che gli piaceva davvero nella vita, ma che magari non avrebbe dato risultati maturi e veloci, vedeva spesso visto come libertino, creativo, inaffidabile, surrealista, almeno in Italia, almeno per quello che ho percepito da molti racconti. Tanti cambiamenti al giorno d’oggi e soprattutto per la mia generazione, e la cosa che un po’ spaventa è il fatto che diventa sempre più difficile accorgersene, tutto va troppo veloce.

I 2Cellos fanno una tournée in Italia e me la perdo per un briciolo…

Nelle sere estive svedesi mi fermo a vedere il tramonto alle 21,30, ti sciocca, rimani in silenzio, a volte mi sento asociale ma sembra che non ci sia altro.

Forse per questo mi sembra che quest’anno sia passato ad una velocità incredibile. Nonostante quattro saggi da scrivere, alcuni da finire ed altri ancora da iniziare completamente, siamo agli sgoccioli di questo anno pieno di avventure e sfide.

Due giorni fa è stato il momento dell’ultima presentazione orale con una coppia di studenti della mia classe, il nostro tema si concentrava su un articolo sui bambini non accompagnati che arrivano in Svezia, e sulle procedure di accoglienza in case famiglia, famiglie adottive ed altri tipi di strutture. Nonostante la sfida del parlare mezz’ora in inglese, ed alti e bassi tra black-out di memoria più o meno visibili a causa dell’ansia di parlare in pubblico, il nostro argomento ha suscitato molto interesse, che si è poi sviluppato in una discussione molto accesa sui temi di integrazione, assimilazione, lingua ecc.

Questo maggio sta cambiando un po’ le cose, sarà il sole e i soliti cambiamenti di umore che esso porta, sarà il prospetto di rimanere a vivere a Malmö ed in generale in un posto per un periodo più lungo di solo un anno, come è successo ultimamente. Trasferirmi così tanto mi ha stancata, in qualche vuoto ti svuota, ti lascia letteralmente senza radici, che però nel tempo vengono ricostruite nella memoria, nei ricordi e nelle conoscenze.

Nove mesi fa alla ricerca di una bici perché vivere al Malmö senza una due ruote manco a pensarci! Ora me ne sto con una bici usata all’ingresso, l’altra

Momento estremamente creativo, sarà l’estate? Saranno le soddisfazioni che una dopo le altre si accumulano (poi vi racconterò meglio delle varie possibilità di lavoro che avrò per il prossimo semestre, alcune delle quali sono già state confermate)? O le migliaia di parole in inglese e svedese lette e scritte che piano piano si dissolvono di nuovo dalla mia bocca, occhi e orecchie come piccoli sogni.

In un tramonto che scioglie tutti tra silenzi, risate e bicchieri di una bevanda ai lamponi che sa di svedese. Ruote di bici che si bloccano mentre torni a casa di notte, un parco che non ti aveva mai fatto così paura, musica nelle orecchie ed auricolari che perdono i gommini a causa del forte vento, bici che sempre per il vento non può essere guidata con una sola mano. La bici che quando la vai a riprendere dal biciclettaio ha la ruota montata in modo diverso, e scopri che puoi guidarla senza mani. Le pedalate veloci, contro il vento, col vento dietro manco a pagarlo! Fiori bianchi e profumati, rubati da alberi di giardini, piante piantate e mai cresciute, sole che scalda, brucia. Bici grande compagna, in una Malmö che cresce e diventa sempre più mista di culture, dialetti, e accenti che non sono più accenti ma ormai sono già lingue.

Svedesi, e me compresa, impazzita per 25° in un venerdì di maggio, lezioni sospese all’ultimo momento che tutti immaginano sia perché il professore voglia prendersi il sole, violoncelli, persone che camminano, e lo sport che qui in Svezia è sempre al centro di tutto, colazioni a contemplare davanti alla finestra che affaccia sul parco. Finestra aperta, cinguettii e soffi di vento leggero.

Il programma con alcuni amici di pedalare fino al bosco di betulle a 15 km da qui questo sabato, rimanere una notte in tenda, esplorare, tornare cercando di trovare l’orientamento.

Piani estivi di esplorazione, work in progress.

Una Serata di Maggio

Città di visi, visi sconnessi.

Scarpe che toccano vetrine fredde,
in una primavera più che inoltrata.

Verde, colori, fiori, blu cielo.

Silenzio rumore noia.

Case chiuse e luci accese, autobus che brillano nel caos silenzioso
di una città in chiusura.

Corpi sereni e dritti, giacche al vento
e capelli all’aria.

Città di visi, visi connessi ai giovani occhi
da musica che ti porta altrove

A summary of Red Cross activities in Malmö

… and how to get involved in a massive number of volunteering work in the city.

Since I moved to Sweden I started to think more and more about how and where to engage in some volunteer activities, and lately decided to take part to those organized by Swedish Red Cross organization, as here and especially in Malmö it is easy to see their presence in a lot of areas.

But before I start to tell you something about the Swedish Red Cross, I want to break the ice with a few reasons why I think you should take the big step and start volunteering!

Because there is a big need of it! And Sweden may be taken as a very good example, as it is known since many many years as an immigration country, which although a relative small population is doing much to make integration work. Is this falling from the sky you think? Of course not, it is both because of the lack of educated social workers and thanks to the big will of helping that big hearted Swedes have that led to a strong network of volunteer work.

Stop hoping and thinking and complaining about how things do not work and take the big move instead! One person cannot do everything but what may be a little difference may be the butterfly causing a hurricane! Well, in this case in a good way 😉

Because it will not only make other feel better but yourself as well! Moreover, you will realize things about yourself you may not have experienced otherwise.

It will contribute drastically to meet new people, socialize, getting to know how things work within the volunteer network, among the others. In case

It will make you aware of how besides finding a job which will pay your bills and all stuff, you should do your best to find something which really satisfy and complete your days 🙂

Last but not least, it gives you experience! And with this I do not only mean something which you can write in your cv! Volunteer work will make you aware of the possibilities available to help, and to focus your energies on something you really are fond of and for which you think you can really make a difference!

You think I should write some cons as well? Well, here to you two of them… 😉

You may never see the world as others do.

You may have troubles trying to make your schedule work. Once you will be into it you will want to do more and more!

One of the first things which may come to your attention when visiting a city in Sweden is the high number of second hand shops bringing the name of Red Cross, Humana, Emmaus, a few among many others.

Both the interest in an organization which was behind all these second-hand shops, the leaflets I saw in school, but also seeing how Red Cross was present in Stockholm after the terror attack in April, made me get more and more interested to join them!

Although I actually started my volunteering year last October becoming a mentor within the Nightingale mentoring program (organized through Malmö University), a few weeks ago I started to contact the different project responsible after I had read some leaflet on some message boards at university. Just in Malmö there are around twenty projects (verksamheter) to which contribute and take part as volunteers, mainly focused on integration, social development, health care, language sharing and first help groups.

“Malmö Kretsen” (Malmö Circuit) operates on five big operating areas, in turn including a number of activities. Those are called:

Health and Social Participation. Among those you have homework assistance, language cafes taking place in different libraries of the city. Meeting points for children, women, unaccompanied children are also included. Support for Homeless People. Soup kitchen, neutral support people, meeting point between addicts and supporting people. Association Development. Human Rights and Migration. These are the two which I am most interested to, including for example “folkrättsgruppen” through which refugees and other people in need can get legal advice. MASKA works with issues such as investigation, family reunification and return. Transit is a way to offer a human support to newly arrived refugees. Crisis and Disaster preparedness. Including the first help group which carries out an ideal emergency response group.

To start, I decided to take part in the project “Kul på Hjul”, (Fun on the Wheels) aimed at teaching – in a fun way – children how to bike safely. The first days we met where Monday and Tuesday, and next week I will volunteer a couple of times more. Our main task was that of playing some games with a group of 5 people each time, with cards showing traffic signs. A way not only to teach but also learn something you would not otherwise think about!

During August another opportunity will be available. Malmö is one of the cities hosting the Red Cross treatment center for war injured and tortured families, women and children. During summers summer camps in the nature are arranged through which participants can have a place where to find tranquillity and be with their relatives. In June a training weekend will be arranged so that one will be prepared to volunteer as a leader in the camp.

I hope I got you a bit interested in the topic of volunteering, a new post is hopefully coming soon about another association present in Malmö which supports unaccompanied children.

 

Reactions

Yesterday Sweden was shocked by a news which nobody would have ever expected to come. A truck drove into one of the most crowded streets of Stockholm around 3 in the afternoon on Friday the 7th, killing 4 people and heavily injuring at least 15. I got blocked when I got to know about what happened, it was more striking of a reaction than I would expect from myself, but it seems like expectations are not to be fulfilled lately.

During a press conference held today, the police gave no further details about the attack than that a 39 y.o. man from Uzbekistan was stopped and retained as strictly related to the attacks. There are still uncertainties about the actual and complete relation of the man to yesterday’s event. An explosive object was found in the truck. The Swedish page of The Local is one good place where to find clear updates.

Police is now way more present and spread within Swedish cities than it was before. Just yesterday night in Möllevångstorget, Triangeln and the central station in Malmö – the third biggest city – one could see how police was spread. One curious thing for me was to see a policeman kicking a football ball to some guys who were playing in the square. A friend told me that a main character of police in Sweden – nevertheless belonging to Swedish culture in general – is to develope and transmit trust and confidence to inhabitants so that in return they can feel safe and protected by them. What can seem as an insignificant and small gesture can instead be the way to a stronger community building.

It is sometimes hard to not be able to help in these moments, I wish I was living in Stockholm to also open my door to people in need or in some other way give support. Here is a video showing the support showed by the Stockholm folk and others right after the attack. People tried to help those directly involved in the attacks or who could not get home because of traffic being closed, by literally opening their houses to them (#openstockholm) or offering coffee and food on the streets. One of the main churches was left open, police made a space available for people to have a roof on their head, sleep and talk with someone, and an increasing number of people donated blood.

I Malmö möts vi – Hjälp till med integration!

Eller, att bli svensk kontakt person utan att vara svensk medborgare.

‘Men va!?’ kanske tänker ni. Nu ska jag berätta kort om vad det innebär att vara kontakt person inom “I Malmö möts vi” – som är kopplat till den sociala resursförvaltningen på Malmö kommun, som dessutom ger flera möjligheter att engagera sig ideellt.

Allt började för några månader sedan när jag skickade in en formulär för att bli kontaktperson/mentor till ett ensamkommande barn, fast jag fick svar om att det inte fanns behov av det då. Efter några veckor fick jag en till mail där någon frågade mig om de kunde skicka min dokumentation vidare eftersom det fanns behovet någonstans i Malmö. Bara för två dagar sedan blev jag kontaktad av “I Malmö möts vi” för en intervju i fredags kl17.00. Jag blev förvånad och väldigt glad och cyklade då till “Invandrareservice” byggnaden med många positiva tankar. Jag träffade en väldigt positivt kvinna som presenterade mig den tjej hon hade tänkt matcha mig med. Allt lät väldigt bra och

Situationen just nu är att det saknas kontakt personer och att de flesta som inte lyckas få någon match är först och främst killar som kom till Sverige som flyktingar. Killar som vill vara kontakt person är därför dem som mest saknas! Åldern? Inom projektet är de vuxna som tas hand om, därför från och med 18 år och äldre. Men just nu behövs det mest hjälp för dem mellan 18 och 30 år gammal.

Men vad handlar det om? Man blir helt enkelt matchad med en person som så mycket som möjligt har gemensamma interessar, ålder och personlighet, för att träffas två gånger i månaden, men tanken att dela språket – dem flesta som man blir kontakt person för brukar ha redan gått på SFI kurserna. Mötespunkterna i det hela är att dela med sig av svenska språket och det sociala utvecklingen både för den person som är ny i Sverige/Malmö och kontaktpersonen.

Nästa helgen ska jag träffa personen jag blir matchad med för första gången, medan nu på torsdag ska jag på en gemensam aktivitet som arrangeras för dem som är kontakt personer. Ser fram emot att lära mig mer om det och träffa mer folk!

Att sitta still i en stad som Malmö som växer och växer och växer, där mycket händer men ännu mer sägs om kriminalitet, utan att göra något annorlunda än kritisera negativt eller klaga tycker jag är lite dumt. Bäst och i stället sluta prata om vad man inte vet än och använda dagen på ett mer produktivt sätt.

Jag flyttade till Malmö för att jag har alltid blivit lockad av mångfalden och mångkulturalism, olika åsikter – mat så klart – och en ung stad. När jag kom i augustis tyckte jag att det inte fanns mycket att göra här eftersom jag kände inte till mycket eller många än. Men ju längre jag är här desto flera aktiviteter hör jag prata om. Speciellt är det otroligt många ideella föreningar som riktar sig till integration av nyanlända personer till Malmö och Sverige – nästa för många så att man inte kan bestämma sig vilket man ska engagera sig i! Några av dem som jag hört tala om än så länge är Näktergalen Mentor verksamheten (ni kan läsa om min erfarenhet här), Open Skåne, Kontrapunkt, Kultur Kompisar, Kompis Sverige och flera mer. Kanske just för att det finns så många ställen där man kan engagera sig i för att hjälpa till så är det inte alltid lätt att få en koncentration av personer, och många känner säkert inte till. Vill man engagera sig för ensamkommande barn här i Malmö kan man läsa mer på denna sida.

Hoppas att du som läste detta inlägg blev lite nyfiken och börjar tänka dig att vara med i projektet! Läs något om det här om du vill veta mer och anmäl dig för att bli kontakt person eller blir matchad med en kontakt person…och lycka till!