Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: volunteering

Unless you change and become like children

Those of you who know me are aware I am not religious (“Yes I am Hindu. I am also a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist and a Jew“). To the surprise of many, though, I believe there is a lot to be learnt from religions in general. Today I wanted to share a text from the gospel. My mum sent it to me about a week ago. It is Matthew 18:1-5, 10, 12-14, and it goes like this: “At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?’ He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. ‘Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost”. I am sharing this because I spent a good part of the last twenty days working with a group of about thirty kids in a summer house on the oceanic coastline of Asturias.

It has been my now traditional summer volunteering abroad (see: 2013 and 2014) and my participation was made possible by Legambiente (thanks!).

These last few days I have thought hard about ways to capture my memory of this experience. In a book I am reading, Jorge Luis Borges writes: “Cuando se acerca el fin, ya no quedan imágenes del recuerdo; sólo quedan palabras”. I will appropriate this reflection for the sake of my post. In fact I would rather share some imagines of the kids and our activities, but I cannot: due to Spanish law, I am not allowed to take pictures of/with the kids. It is a shame, because they are so animated, funny, and cool. Just try to imagine a group of thirty people between 5 and 17 year old and they are all screaming, throwing a ball around, jumping in the ocean and asking me to keep them above the waves, riding down the river on a kayak, surfing – pretty well, too – and digging into a cave, climbing up on the trees like crazy goats, cooking pasta with a respectable degree of discipline, fighting over a glass of coke, asking a few questions in English, poking me in Spanish, cheering in Italian, pouring water all over the place, and much more. They are Edgar, Ainoa, Christie, Yaiza, Joni, Angela, Jose, Kevin, JoseLu, Aitor, Fabiany, Elena, Blanca, Dani, Christian, Christian, Angel, Carla, Alejandra, Monica, Sara, Keila, Israel, Adrian, Dioni, Tonio, Zaira, Liberated and they kept my spirit up this month.

To compensate for the lack of pictures with such a youthful group, I took a few photos with elderly people. I shot them in the different parts of Spain where I was before and after going to Asturias. The first pictures in this gallery were taken in San Sebastian/Donostia; the last in Oviedo, Puebla de Sanabria, Zamora, Madrid; and in between there might be a bit of Gijon and Ribadesella.

The problem with these pictures is that they are anonymous to me. When I look at them, I smile – especially those with the people eating, thinking, looking around – but I do not find trace of the little journey I lived through. Rather than looking at the photos, thus, this time I can better recall by reading my scattered notes on a notebook, or going through the random signs I left on the map, or even smelling the bracelets the kids made for me. I have some reminiscences by looking again at the books I was reading these days – Hemingway and Kerouac – and listening to the kind of songs I was listening to – Daft Punk, Bear’s Den, The Rural Alberta Advantage, The White Buffalo: a pretty scattered selection, eh? If I think about all these things now, I can safely conclude I have experienced occasional loneliness, sunny days, rainy days, intense sickness, optimism, tenderness, relaxation, idleness, adrenalin, satisfaction, hanger, and everything in between.

Traditional addendum: I am now off to Paris for two days. I am then flying to Montreal in a pretty hazardous journey that involves a stop-and-go through a couple of airports in New York. If everything goes well, I will be in Quebec until mid-September.

Can happiness be haggis, neeps, and tatties?

My ride took a bit longer than expected. What was initially supposed to be a short stroll with the bike away from my laptop turned into a two-month journey across four countries and very different feelings. I have, in fact, been thinking a lot about myself, for reasons both professional and personal—but then who hasn’t? It is just that there are people who tend to think about themselves it more than anybody else: generally, it is either those who have a lot of spare time, or those who tend to be egocentric. I am a bit of both.

Matter of fact, I am about to speak about myself and stuff I have done – once again.

First I have ridden my bike. Quite remarkably, I rode with my dad the whole way between Trento and Tuscany. Although we did not make it to Florence because of sheer lack of time, it was a good ride. We had lot of water, huge meals, and approximately 400 km down the way. My dad is still stronger than I am when it comes to long-distance ride, which is not surprising as he does not waste too much energy thinking about himself.

Bike Ride
I have also written. My articles have been published on Unimondo: some of them in Italian (Università, il dilemma dei finanziamenti privati; Mondiali in Brasile, l’importante è partecipare;Regno Unito: una lunga serie di sfortunati eventi; Mondiali in Brasile: dove è la festa?), some others in English (How Eurosceptic is the new European Parliament?; A new deal between the EU and Turkey on immigration rules). But I have gone international too: Iris, Jasper and all the other Orange fella will be proud as my articles have been translated in Dutch (Voor het eerst vuurwerk in Europees Parlement; EU en Turkije sluiten nieuwe overeenkomst over immigratieafspraken).

I have been to the Balkans. First I went to Serbia for a volunteering program. After last year’s experience in Slovakia this year I landed in a town only 33km away from Belgrande. Lying between the rivers Sava and Kolubara, Obrenovac has been badly hit by the floods of the last Spring. I spent two weeks working with a group of international volunteers in the houses that had been damaged by the water and the mud. I then traveled south to Sarajevo, for an immersive three-day in one of Europe’s most inspiring places on the occasion of its international Film Festival. Much more should be said about this experience, but I won’t – not here, anyway.

I have hiked, keeping up with the good tradition started with Manuel and Mindo. This year, after the 2012 and 2013 editions, we managed to put together the whole crew, adding Dani and Giallu, and sleeping in a comfortable refugee, Dolomiti del Brenta. In spite of what Jonas thought before we left, we never got lost, as the pictures of us looking desperately hopeless in the fog can confirm.

Finally, I have read some books. While I am still trying to nail down War and Peace, I have been disappointed by Canada entertained by New Europe, and intrigued by the Consolations of the Forest. The latter is probably one of the richest, deepest, and most honest books I have ever read. Those of you who are into nature, philosophy, and vodka should probably go for it.

And that’s about it. I am in Edinburgh now and will be here for a month experiencing the joy of the local cuisine, the excitement of the upcoming referendum, and the company of some old and new friends. I am planning to make a better use of the blog than the recent past. But if the days keep being as beautiful as today it won’t be easy to keep up.

Questa foto non l’ho fatta con il mio telefonino. Non l’ho fatta oggi. Non l’ho fatta io. Ma rende l’idea.

Ricostruire

La pubblicazione su Unimondo di oggi del mio articolo sul campo di volontariato in Slovacchia é l’occasione propizia per condividere qualche altra foto da quell’esperienza. E così chiudo, simbolicamente,  anche questo capitolo e ne apro uno nuovo: sono arrivato a Firenze dove, se tutto va secondo i piani, potrei rimanere davvero a lungo.

Eyes don’t lie

Dirty Lorenzo

Vodka, Slivovička,Borovička, Vodka,Slivovička, Borovička, Vodka, Slivovička, Borovička

It is ok for you? It is ok for me!

Mi carro me lo robaron estando de romería. Mi carro me lo robaron anoche, cuando dormía. ¿Dónde estará mi carro?

I filled about fifteen pages of notes, but what matters? There are no words to communicate to other people my brief, yet intense, volunteering experience in Slovakia.

I was there to help the community of Kamenica, just a few miles away from Poland, Hungary and Ukraine, to rebuild their ancient castle, which was originally constructed in the 13th century. I spent ten of the greatest days of my still short existence in this isolated town as a  volunteer from the Italian NGO Legambiente. I would love to tell you about the nature, the hard work, the sun, the latrines, and most of all about the human community that overwhelmed me with their passion and that is now family to me. But I cannot, just because that was too much.

I will, therefore, limit myself to uploading some pictures on this blog – today mines, in low resolution; next week those from Michal – and I will encourage you all to get part to a similar experience in the future. It will change your opinion on humanity and perhaps it will change your attitudes too, a little bit.

David, Laetitia, Tereza, Michal, Petra, Peter, Matej, Milan, Daniel, Martin, David, Tomasz, Juraj, Domink, David, Dominik, Boris, Josef, Klara, Matej, Maria, Benedikta, Marek, Voito, Maika, Bianca, Josef, Tomasz, Sara, Andre, Brano, Vlado, Martin. Dakujem, rodina.

Summer break

I wont be able to post anything on the blog for the next 10 days, as I am off for a volunteering camp in Slovakia. Take care.