For twelve days in April, Vicolocorto welcomed four young people, taking part in a project called Youth as Peacebuilders – Youth policy for peace. This program, financed by the European Union, has for objective to promote the involvement of young people as key actors of peacebuilding processes. To understand the reality of youth work at a local level, these four volunteers from Ukraine, Georgia and Armenia were in Italy as job shadowers, studying the way Vicolocorto works, and following their daily activities.
Ani is 23, she is from Vanadzor, in Armenia. She is working as a volunteer in a local organization while following the second year of her Master Degree in English Language and Literature, as well as Classic Philology.
Ilya is 19, he is from Odessa, in Ukraine. He studied International Relations and is working in the field of NGOs, mostly as a volunteer.
Kateryna is 22, she is from Kharkiv, in Ukraine. She works in Opora, an organization that provides election and parliamentary observations to local communities.
Giorgi is 22, he is from Borjomi, in Georgia. He works in three different organizations, related to sports and youth work.
We had the opportunity to ask them a few questions in the middle of their staying, about their experience so far :
How has been your experience with Vicolocorto so far?
Ani : The most focal point I would like to point out until now is the visit of Totem Youth Centre. Seeing the relationship between them and Vicolocorto, as well as seeing how the staff works in the center was something really important and interesting for me.
Ilya : I like Pesaro, the town is small and comfortable, close to the sea. As for the activities, for me the most interesting was to visit the center for kids and young people. Also, I really liked meeting the EVS volunteers who work in Pesaro, since they are all from different countries and cultures.
Kateryna : Visiting Totem, this center that works with youngsters and people with disabilities was nice although it was difficult, but I really enjoyed it. Tomorrow we are going again to realise some practical workshops with them, and I think it will be interesting. About Vicolocorto, I think they do a great job here, explaining to youngsters how they can use their time to be active for their community, which is really useful because in big cities, people do not get this kind of information.
Giorgi : I really like Pesaro, it is small and can be similar in some ways to georgian cities. I like the beach and the fact that everyone rides a bicycle. My favourite activity so far is what we are doing right now, because I am a journalist and I really like interviews, blogs and videos. About Vicolocorto, I think they help changing people’s lives, which is really important.
What is the connection that you can make between peacebuilding and the activities of Vicolocorto?
Ani : I’m really happy that I am precisely here with Vicolocorto, because their work is focused on youth work. They really place youngsters in the center of their activities with EVS and Erasmus+ projects, which to me is the main focus of the project, “Youth as Peacebuilders”.
Ilya : In this moment, I can not really make a specific connection between Pesaro and peacebuilding, but for me, visiting a country is the best way to discover its culture, and understand how things work, which is a good starting point for peacebuilding.
Kateryna : I realized that in Italy people are more open to share ideas and thoughts, as well as helping people. It is useful to save and keep some contacts for the future. In Ukraine, the structures are more “closed”, we need to open borders and minds, to build networks, which is why I am here.
Giorgi : Peacebuilding is really important for me, for my life, my job, my country and my city. Each country has their own perception of peacebuilding, so I learned what it represents for italians. I also got ideas that I can use in the future, from the way Vicolocorto works and organizes workshops.
What were your expectations coming here, and what do you think so far?
Ani : It is not over yet, so I can not speak of the whole process. However, the visit already met some of my expectations, in the way that I was expecting something really welcoming, really nice, visiting some establishment and seeing their work. But also, I thought it would be more difficult, with a fuller and more stressful program. In reality, this week so far has been really calm, and I appreciate it because we have time to digest everything we see and learn, to really analyze everything.
Ilya : My vision of this country is similar to my expectations, I also think that Italians are quite similar to Ukrainians in some ways. The agenda is more comfortable and simple than I expected, we have weekends, we can visit other cities, etc. To me, this job shadowing is the perfect balance between relaxing, working and learning.
Kateryna : The places we visit and the activities so far are different from what I expected, because I thought it would be more focused on political matters. However, I learned that Totem is an organization supported by the municipality, which is an example of how municipalities and government in general can help build a better community.
Giorgi : Before travelling, I searched for information about italy, Pesaro and Vicolocorto. Therefore, I did not really have any surprises because I already knew what I would be doing during these ten days.
Léa & Nayra