I’m Michele, a 24 years old boy from Cagliari. In spite of living in an amazing and sunny island, I was looking for changes, after having looked into myself. It all began with the decision to take part in an Evs project to do volunteerism with children in Tirana, I went through it and here I am! Living with a group of people in a foreign city, in East Europe was the first change and it wouldn’ t have been easy since I’ ve never been used to it but I was astonished to see that the people of the group are very open minded and particularly involving also because they like to be informed about many things ranging from history, news, politic, literature, places and music and their culture is huge so that is a pleasure to stay with them. At the beginning I was a bit spaced out but I soon got off thinking that this experience has two opposite faces, which is the point I want to write about, to speak about my impressions.
Living with a group of Italian people who have a similar cultural background, in a comfortable and cosy hostel is good but out of the hostel the city shows itself and spreads like a drop of oil, towards the mountains and the situation is different. Tirana is very big and has many wide and open spaces and streets that makes for a metropolitan city, a capital, which looks like modern but in the same time has many hidden aspects inside. As a consequence it has been interesting to see how the city is changing trying to be modern, and it has a fantastic and big square, Skanderberg Square, many shops, restaurants, discos around and a modern block called “ Blloku” living with half destroyed houses, dirty streets and no zebra crossing.
I also got off thinking that any experience or trip really depends on how you live it and the people you live it with. I want to stress that because going out with the people of the group boils down to choose the most modern clubs and mall to go at evening in order to and have fun. The discos and pubs I’ve been to are very good and what struck me was that many Albanians I met in the streets during the situations of the everyday life or when I went out or went shopping is that they are extremely helpful and they like being like that! After all that, the point is yet to come: the real Albania, made up of lack of interest and information and difficulties of everyday’s life.
Only speaking with people who are really conscious of the world around them and only getting closer to the work of the project I began to understand the reality around me make up of people who want to change their environment and their lives and be free after years of Comunism and dictatorship, people who need other people, who need smiles, who need to help others and interestingly are very fascinated by Italy! And then I saw the schools where I began to spend my time as a volunteer. Their doors opened up to reality and there I saw the children who burden autism and mental disability, and I got to know that most of the people are not be able to identify autism and prevent it. That blew me away!
The work in the schools is funny as well as difficult and leads to reflections about life, about how much some people need help to take on something that they don’ t know and they don’ t know how to face. I refer to the children who suffer autism and their parents and I thought about how much their lives must be difficult and I soon realised that even me in the school didn’ t know how to deal with children who freak out because of the mental disability and behave like other kids don’ t, but I see it as a challenge I want to take on it to prove myself!
Back to the school ( of life ) ! Kisses, Michele