Balkan Beats 27

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Balkan Beats

Movement Movement Movement





Movement Movement The 27th Edition Movement by André Cruz

May brings the 27th edition of Balkan Beats happily. Made with love and care, the editors decided that this would be a turning point edition for the magazine in its genesis. For that reason, “Movement” is our topic.

As life itself is a constant movement, we welcomed

(and already said goodbye) to our short term volunteers Emilie Simon and Zoé Felmy-Regrigny, who spent two months with us and contributed to 27th edition of Balkan Beats. You can find their articles in Local Life section.

lum, others hoping to move on to other countries. Arianna Salan opens up a topic about how the movement was prevented from crossing the borders at the beginning of April (page 37). From the more personal aspect of a movement, in its literal meaning, on page 17, Martin Naništa talks about his experience and preparation for the 14th Alexander the Great Marathon. On page 54, Francesco Cirica wrote about an integrative game, that can be played without any physical movement, but gives the player an idea of how a refugee has to make the steps to reach Europe.

In this publication, we look towards the term movement All our energy was invested in this edition, hope you in plural ways and different areas of a society, that values the act of moving each day more. Being one of the countries with more amount of people fleeing from war zones and conflict areas, Greece has got a lot of refugees, some of them being here with a hope of asy-

enjoy the 27th edition of Balkan Beats while we are all waiting for the summer to come - and the 28th edition!

Balkan Beats, a part of Balkan Hotspot

Balkan Hotspot is the EVS (European Voluntary changes in the Balkan and Eastern European Service) project of “United Societies of Balkans”, region and under the need for the creation of a a NGO founded in Thessaloniki in 2008 by a team better social environment. of active young people. Key areas of the organization’s activities concern The Balkans and Eastern Europe are geograph- the defense of human rights, the organization of ical regions with many cultural features which youth exchanges and training courses, which will offer a broad spectrum of actions and youth in- bring young people from Balkans and Europe tovolvement initiatives. The organization was cre- gether, the organization of local educational semated as a response to the pressure of constant inars and multimedia production. United Societies of Balkans is a Non Governmental Organization, founded in Thessaloniki in 2008, by a team of active young people. The organization was created as a response to the pressure of constant changes in the Balkan and Eastern European region and under the need for the creation of a better social environment. Key areas of the organization’s activities concern the defense of human rights, the organization of youth exchanges and training courses, which will bring young people from Balkans and Europe together, the organization of local educational seminars and multimedia pro- duction(webradio, videos, documentaries).

Main goals of the organization • To promote the values of non formal le- aring,volunteering, active citizenship and democracy for the creation of a better future for European youth. • To promote human rights, solidarity and respect for diversity. • To build healthy cooperation bridges between countries of the Balkan area and that of Eastern Europe with the rest of Europe. • To locate and multiply the special cultural attributes of our societies. • The break down of prejudices and stereo- types between Balkan countries.


Property of Balkan Beats The United Societies of Balkans, NGO, does not necessarily share the opinions expressed in Balkan Beats. It is illegal to reproduce any part of this publication without referring to the source.

This magazine is distributed free of charge.

9, Alamanas str., Agios Pavlos, Thessaloniki Tel./Fax: +30 2310 215 629 | Cover © Marleen Müts and André Cruz



Contents Volunteer Life VOLUNTEER VOICE


Discovering Europe with USB USB NEWS


V for Volunteers (V4V) a new project to improve volunteerism STORY OF LUCK


Irida - Celebrating the diversity of women



21st Thessaloniki Documentary Festival SUSTAINABILITY


Thessaloniki is getting a green coat



The challenge of the 969 beers

Alexander the Great Marathon TRAVEL


Raise your thumb



Mix Fix


What if there is no movement - if it’s just waiting?

Out Of The Borders



Eurovision: music, entertainment & controversy


European elections experience as ambassador for Erasmus+


Genepi, instilling movement in closed spaces




Collaging the Queer COMPUTER GAMES


Farewell, my love EASTER


Easter - from a Pagan celebration to a chocolate paradise PLACES IN THESS


The 6 best places to enjoy the summer in Thessaloniki COMICS

When movement is prevented











Miss you Mom



Seven lessons for a happier life from Lev Tolstoy



Discovering Europe with USB

How does it feel to participate in a youth exchange?

During last months, USB has sent some active people to different countries over Europe to participate in youth exchanges, training courses and seminars to get new experiences and knowledge. We will bring to you the emotions of Joanna Kanakari who was in Spain. Story of an experience in Romania by Ilias, Ionna, Giannis, Giorgos, Glykeria, Manolis and Tzo. And another emotion sharing moment of her experience in Romania by Maria Kelemouridou. Enjoy! Joanna Kanakari in Spain

“During the first week of April, I participated in the seminar “Volunteering for peace”, that took place in Vilanova I la Geltry, Spain. During the seminar, I discovered how important is it to listen actively and think critically integrating all the information I have and listening to different opinions. Also, Intercultural night

© Joanna Kanakari

I understood the power of nonviolent communication. Communicate in a nonviolent way is necessary to understand other people’s needs and expectations and build healthier relationships. Moreover, I realized that I can choose my reaction in whatever is happening to me. Choosing critical thinking or positivity or just noticing the facts will definitely be useful when something is not going as I have planned to. However, the most important of all is that we went alone in Spain, but we left as a family. I left this seminar full of positivity, self confidence and inspiration. I met people with same sensitivities as me and we shared our passion for traveling and lifelong learning. Thank you USB for giving me the chance to live this amazing experience and have a positive impact in other people’s lives!” During the seminar, I discovered how important it is to listen actively. © Joanna Kanakari



Volunteer Life

Ilias, Ionna, Giannis, Giorgos, Glykeria, Manolis and Tzo in Romania

The United Societies of Balkans gave us the op-

portunity to travel to Romania in order to participate to Pro Sana 2, a Youth Exchange aiming at helping its participants to adopt a healthier lifestyle. There are no words to describe our gratitude and happiness for being part of this amazing experience, of a family of 42 young people from all over Europe. But aren’t all these words cliché? Perhaps they are! But for us there was something magical about our stay in Poiana Negrii.

In the next 10 days, in order to survive, participants

took the initiative to try new things, to challenge themselves, to take a deep look in their own mind, while they were getting to know other people. During these days, we were neither students nor teachers. We were ourselves and we had to use our imagination every single moment. We became actors, filmmakers, chefs, hikers, yoga-trainers, kung-fu fighters, dancers, singers and, most importantly, friends. The people that we met will stay in our minds and hearts forever. We realized that the things that separate us are not that important as the things that unite us. That was the greatest achievement of this project: it united us and showed us that together we can “do great thing and leave our mark”.

Participants in Romania

The most important of all is that we went alone in Spain, but we left as a family. © Personal archive of the participants

We’d love to share with you some of the most

interesting and challenging activities that the organizers had prepared for us. During one of the first ones, we had to create a healthy diet program based one each one’s nutritional needs. Perhaps the funniest activity was when we had to use theater in order to understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and the bad effects of an unhealthy one. Our favorite was for sure when we went hiking to the Carpathian Mountains. Last but not least, our last task was to create short films regarding what we had learned so far!

© Personal archive of the participants



Maria Kelemouridou in Romania


returned from this Training Course “Youth Work Act of Inclusion” in Horezu, Romania, I’m full of new experiences and new techniques I learned.

Romania is rich in monasteries

© Maria Kelemouridou

4 teams, 4 films, 4 masterpieces. We highly recommend you to find some time and watch them on YouTube, as these videos are the remaining proof of our excitement and happiness in Romania! We made a remake of the TV series “Friends” named “European Friends”. That was how we felt and still feel. We captured the story of the life of “three men” before and after the project and we also filmed two videos which presented some of the best moments of our experience, “Memoirs of Poiana” and “Our time is now”. Google them!

And, of course, we have to speak about our

nights, those amazing nights full of foreign dances, food and drinks. We hardly believe that we managed to survive these nights! Two of the most special ones were the Tedx night and the Oscars night.

During this week, we got in touch with different

cultures, and found out more about Turkey, Croatia, Italy and Romania through the intercultural evenings when we danced a lot but also tried too many traditional dishes! We discussed about inclusion in our countries, explored our artistic side by creating short films and then presenting them in an Oscar ceremony, talked about cultural heritage and diversity, visited a monastery which is included in the UNESCO heritage list, attended a pottery workshop, and finally gained knowledge on how to write projects and how to implement them via presentations on project management by our extremely talented trainer!

Overall, it was a great experience which helped

me not only to acquire new skills, but also to be a better person, with better understanding of other cultures and people’s emotions! I am proud to say that I made many new friends with whom I felt very connected! It was an amazing week and What happened in the end of this extraordinary I’d happily do it again! story? When this adventure was over, it was a very cold evening in Poiana Negrii, but nobody felt that cold, because all these days has been converted to memories that kept their body and their soul really warm. The most emotional people are crying and the strongest are tightening their fist in order to hide their sadness. What we want you to keep in mind after reading this article is that an Erasmus+ Project can change your life. Do not hesitate to take part in one. Make the first step and soon your life will change, as ours did. Way of making new friends


© Maria Kelemouridou


Volunteer Life

V for Volunteers (V4V) a new project to improve volunteerism by Wali Benia

V for Volunteers, is one of the new Erasmus+ project created by United Societies of Bal-

kans (USB). The main goal is to support youth workers and organizations related to them to improve their abilities regarding volunteerism.

“As an organization, we have a very long experience in volunteerism field. Since EVS (European Voluntary Service) changed for European Solidarity Corp and as one of the biggest EVS organization, we thought we have like an ethical obligation. The idea was to collect and exchange all the practises that we followed in the past and cooperate with different organizations to find out innovative approaches about volunteerism.” said Yannis Kourtis, Project officer at USB. A project divided into three phases Official logo of the project

© Martin Naništa

It has been four months from the moment when

United Societies of Balkans (USB), launched V4V, an initiative to develop more social inclusion. The idea is simple: try to help youth workers and support staff to enhance their skills, knowledge and competencies in the field of volunteerism.

The project will be implemented for three years and involved different partners (from Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom). It takes place in the premises of the organizations and consists of research, exchange and training as well as policy recommendation paper. USB is working on it for a long time. They decided to create and apply, V for Volunteers, for some specific reasons:

The process is currently launched by doing in-

terviews with volunteers to collect experiences. But more specifically, V for Volunteers will work in three phases. The first one focuses on the role of the volunteer and how is he talented in society. USB wants to concentrate this phase on the marginalized young people who are risking radicalization by using volunteerism as a tool to create opportunities.

The second phase is about the sharing space.

Indeed, the idea is to create a space to evaluate the volunteering projects that USB and the partners have been implementing during all these years. This is a crucial step to understand what was good and not, or what to improve. The participants will exchange everything and should


Volunteer Life USB NEWS

sustainable link between European Voluntary Service and European Solidarity Corps through these recommendations.

USB has got some expectations for this project: Kick off meeting

© United Societies of Balkans

come up with new approaches and methodologies to use for the voluntary cycle.

The last phase of the project will create an open

“ Learn from the practises of the past, see the success stories from previous volunteers that have now a job, a career or opportunities based on that and do an exchange of practices with the other organisations that have a long experience. The objective is to implement better projects and create more and more success stories for volunteers,” claims Yannis Kourtis.

forum methodology. The aim of this is to establish policy recommendations which will be shared with the local, regional and European level authorities. They are expecting the presence If you want to participate you can go on the webof, and they want to structure well the status of site of USB or contact directly a volunteer in general. This phase is also use- Yannis Tsilsou, Head of the Project management ful in the sense that it supposes to establish a Department, at

USB and all the partners involved


© Merseyside Expanding Horizons


Volunteer Life

Irida - Celebrating the diversity of women

Story of an organization that moves forward

by Emma Lesburgueres

In this Story of Luck, we focus less on a person and more on a place: the Ìrida Multicultural Women’s Centre, a project by the NGO InterVolve. Chrysiis, one of the members of the organization, talks to us about what they are achieving and how they are making a change in these women’s lives. Can you introduce yourself?

InterVolve runs Irida, a women’s community centre in Thessaloniki, while our teams also inmunications and Fundraising for InterVolve. In- tervene in two refugee camps, a detention centerVolve is a Thessaloniki-based non-profit and tre, as well as the urban setting in the Thessaly non-governmental organization. At the moment, region of Greece.

My name is Chrysiis, and I work on Media, Com-

A cooking class in Irida



Volunteer Life STORY OF LUCK

Irida campaign for 14 February.


What was your role in the creation of Irida?

and without any community to rely on. Hence, we decided to create a community centre for women over 16 years old, from all naI was in a way part of it since the beginning, but women; tional, religious, educational and professional also not (laughing). In 2017, I was volunteering backgrounds. with InterVolve at the Softex refugee camp outside Thessaloniki. When in the summer of this Going back to what I was saying, I was still part year Softex closed, and people moved to urban of the team when we found the building where accommodation, our dedicated team of volun- we would house Irida but moved to London in teers started working on the idea of creating a September of this year to pursue my master’s community centre in the centre of Thessaloniki degree. Irida opened in January 2018, and I reto keep supporting those populations. However, joined the team in September 2018. I was so exwe soon found out that there were already too cited to join the team again, and witness myself many active community centres in the city. how beautifully Irida had evolved!

At the same time, we realized women’s need for support had increased. When people used to live in camps, they had formed their communities, while they could also find all the services they needed (e.g. legal or medical support) at their doorstep. So, when people had to move away from camps, women found themselves in a very vulnerable position, without the needed support


What kind of activities do you provide?

Irida is open from 10 am to 5 pm, from Monday

to Friday, and during those hours we provide a variety of classes and activities. For example, we run English and Greek language and literacy classes for everyone, and also Arabic and French literacy classes for native speakers.


Volunteer Life

Moreover, we dispense basic mathematics classes for our members who can’t perform necessary, every-day calculations, to make sure that they are not being taken advantage of. We also run life skills classes throughout which we work on anything from anxiety and stress relief to the use of ATM and Google Maps, depending on the needs of our members and the observations our team makes. Life skills classes are held to support the participants with their daily struggles and increase their independence.

people get attached to the services provided and the staff. At Irida we try to encourage our members to form their groups of peers on whom they will be able to rely on through difficult times, and with whom they will be able also to share their good moments. The reason why this remains a top priority for us is that we want to make sure that even if the centre were to close, our members would still be able to reach out for support to their peers. We are always pleased to witness the results of our endeavour to promote the creation of social networks; for example, when We also offer computer classes, business skills one of the women was struggling a lot due to courses, art crafts and wood crafts, sewing class- her mother’s passing, some of the other women es, beauty classes (e.g. we learn how to make nat- actively stood by her, taking excellent care of her. ural cosmetics, masks etc.), cooking classes and sports classes like yoga, Zumba, capoeira etc. It’s good to keep in mind that Irida stands between an emergency and long-term developWomen can also hang out, chill out and socialize ment, which means that at Irida we deal both at the centre. In this safe environment, they feel with the day-to-day struggles of our members free to be themselves. To make sure our members (papers, accommodation, health etc.), but also can relax and focus on their classes, we also run with more long-term needs, like education, proactivities for children under 12 years old; we ac- fessional capacity and integration. Even though cept children under five the whole day and chil- development is what usually follows a humandren between 5 and 12 between 2 pm and 5 pm. itarian emergency, the two concepts remain pretty different in nature, and, as Irida is moving How many women do you receive? towards long-term growth, it’s essential for us We receive on average 60 women daily, while to have qualified volunteers, who will be able to we have even gotten to attain our maximum help the project and our members progress in capacity, which is approximately 90 women per their lives, join the team. If you are interested in day. That’s also the reason why we decided to learning more about volunteering at Irida, please stop proceeding new registrations daily, to make e-mail us at; we look forsure we manage to meet the needs of our exist- ward to hearing from you! ing members, get to know them personally, and also secure their safety. We do, however, still do new registrations once per month, which usually take place on the first Friday of the month.

What are the objectives of the Irida centre?

Irida’s main objective is to facilitate the com-

munity building process for our members, while also building their capacity. A widespread problem between NGOs and their beneficiaries is that

Space where the women’s children can play. A lot of the centre is decorated by Mahmoud (, from elements he recuperated from the Softex camp when it closed. ©



21st Thessaloniki Documentary Festival by Balkan Hotspot team

Between the 1st and the 10th of March, Thessaloniki hosted the 21st edition of the city’s documentary fest. The festival is probably the second biggest cinema event in the city, right after the film festival that happens every October and that will reach its 60th edition this year. As usual our team was present on the event and decided to bring you a bit of what the documentary fest offered to the city. We gathered some our opinions about the docs we watched and created this special and new way to present you the festival. Hope you enjoy and see you next year there! Chinese Portrait (2018), by Xiaoshuai Wang

China it’s the most populated country on earth and as well as the biggest producer of most of the goods we consume in our lives. The last decades brought huge industries and massive constructions to the country that obviously shaped and had a massive impact in the Chinese society. With this approach as starting point, Xiaoshuai Wang directed a contemplative movie, gathering multiple dynamic portraits of one or more people on their daily routines. Without any narrative, the viewer is invited to be part of the different realities presented along the movie considering also the time the director chose to give to every plan, with enough time to look the people in the eyes. An intense experience about one of the most complex societies in the world.

zle that tries to cope with loss, death and grief, facing the endless mystery of life. BALKAN BEATS RATING: 3 out of 5

Jonathan Agassi saved my life (2018), by Tomer Heyman

Director Tomer Heyman follows Jonathan Agas-

si, one of the most famous male gay porn actor, during his everyday life. From the stage of live shows and film sets to the more intimate moments, the film shows Agassi’s bigger-than-life public character as well as the fragile and insicure man that lies behind it. A story that can be both unbearably hard and incredibly tender, narrated with compassion but without filters.



Introduzione all’oscuro (2018), by Gastòn Solnicki

Wandering the streets of Vienna, a man tries

to collect memories of a friend that has recently passed away. A bizarre, dream-like movie in which every scene is like a piece of a jigsaw puz-




Meeting Gorbachev (2018), by Werner Herzog and André Singer

The man who faced the crumble of USSR empire faces the sharp questions of Werner Herzog. With is usual mix of personal feelings and objective realism, the German director portrays the picture of an extraordinary man in a tremendous time. Even though battered by age and illness, Soviet Union’s former president is still funny and clever, engaging an appealing game of wits between him and the filmmaker who is trying to discover his secrets. BALKAN BEATS RATING: 4 out of 5

Shooting the Mafia (2019), by Kim Longinotto

Local Life

However the poor narrative makes the movie a dull collection of interviews and concerts footage, leaving the audience with nothing than boredom. BALKAN BEATS RATING: 2 out of 5

Songbird (2018), by Lucy Greenwell


documentary part cartoon, Songbird is a VR experience that brings the user on Kauai Island, following 1984 expedition in search of the mysterious bird called “ōʻō” (pronounced “OhOh”). Plagued by an annoying voice over, the movie is still able to use the virtual reality to put the audience right in the middle of the narrative making its story much more emotional.


Following life and works of Italian photojournal-

ISIS, tomorrow. The lost souls ist Letizia Battaglia, the movie tells the story of of Mosul (2018), by Francesca 30 years of Mafia Wars in Italy as well as the one Mannocchi and Alessio Romenzi. of the brave men and women who fought against the Syndicate.

The film stays in between the artist’s portrait

and the historical survey, unable to find its own way. But Battaglia’s flamboyant personality and tremendous pictures offer a unique point of view on one of the darkest page of Italian History. BALKAN BEATS RATING: 4 out of 5

Greek Rock Revolution (2019), by Miguel Ángel Cano Santizo

From the Ashes of Economic Crisis rises a new wave of Greek rock. Santizo interviews the most important voices of the scene trying to underline the effort of a bunch of youngsters that beat unemployment and frustration with their music.

The city of Mosul was liberated in July 2017. But the most effective weapon that Isis left behind is thousands of children and teenager educated in its ideology, and a society full of resentment against each other. Is it possible to go back to a peaceful life, after the social fabric is been torn apart? Through images and interviews, the documentary draws a powerful picture of a broken society. Speaking about winners and losers, bad and good, before and after, is not enough to describe the actual situation of families, women, and children whose lives and interactions were shaped from the war context, and who now struggle to cope with the complexity. It is a necessary narration, going deeper behind the (forcibly) simplified political and military rhetoric. BALKAN BEATS RATING: 5 out of 5



The Silence of Others (2019) by Almudena Carracedo and Robert Bahar

the many difficulties the group faces, such as issues with (mental) health and people getting arrested. It made a big impression on me, as the After six years of filming this documentary was documentary was filmed very intimately, by peoborn with the aim of reopening a debate buried in ple living in the house, and narrated to give more the silence of the Spanish transition. Thousands insight into what was happening. of relatives are still searching for the remains of their loved ones killed during the Spanish Civ- BALKAN BEATS RATING: 4.5 out of 5 il War. The central axis of the story starts from the Amnesty Law passed in Spain in October Man Made (2018), by T Cooper 1977, also known as “the pact of oblivion”. This measure, approved shortly after the death of the Diving into the world of transgender bodybuildSpanish dictator Francisco Franco, represent- ing, Man Made follows four transgender men as ed the state’s renunciation of criminal coercion they prepare for the Trans FitCon competition in against those who violated basic legal rights Atlanta, Georgia, USA. The result is a documentary built around four intimate, touching portraits during the war. of four men from different backgrounds and in With this unfair panorama and thousands of different stages of transition, that are working unidentified common graves, from Argentina a hard to navigate the world around them and to complaint is filed in 2010 in order to respond to be themselves to the best of their possibilities. hundreds of Spanish families. Many of the judg- The shaky camera work is a little distracting at es who carry out this complaint are judges who times, but overall, the documentary is a beautiful were exiled from Spain. From this point begins piece that challenges ideas of traditional mascuto narrate The Silence of Others, a documentary linity and captures the journeys of these men in of personal stories full of feelings and cravings a touching and sensitive way. for truth. BALKAN BEATS RATING 3.5 out of 5 BALKAN BEATS RATING: 5 out of 5

The Fig House (2018), by Pitzi Kampourouglou

Filmed in Thessaloniki, The Fig House is about

a group of refugees and activists of different nationalities, living together in a squat in Ano Poli. Starting with a plan to help the refugees escape to Germany through the Balkan Route, the documentary follows their lives until, ultimately, things do not really work out as hoped. The documentary is built up in a nice way, with different ‘chapters’. Because of the careful editing, there is a good ‘storyline’, as well as a good balance in terms of heaviness. There are many funny moments in the documentary, but it also depicts


Irving Park (2019), by Panayotis Evangelidis

Based in Chicago, Irving Park is an intimate portrait of four gay men in their 60s who live together in master/slave relationships. The documentary carefully explores topics such as chosen family and unconventional relationships, and portrays different aspects of the lives of these men in a beautiful way. This includes stigma from outside, constant communication with one another, as well as some graphic, explicit sexual moments. A special glance into a world that for most people is unknown. BALKAN BEATS RATING 4 out of 5


Local Life

Thessaloniki is getting a green coat

Are we making a change in our city image?

by Zoé Felmy-Regrigny

Thessaloniki is a colourful city where you can find as many drawings on its walls as different

people. Where secret places, social areas, cosy bars and amazing spots are hidden in concrete jungle patiently waiting to be discovered by disoriented walkers. It is a city where you have to lose yourself to find your path. Enough plural to become what you want to see in it. It is a mosaic that has never stop to grow.

Today Thessaloniki (or Salonika) can be at the

same time fancy, glittering, pleasant, organised, expensive. Or secret, calm, devout, harsh, popular, chaotic and cheap. But it is always exquisite in its way to celebrate everything significant that came in our mind when we’re trying to define the world: there is “life.” And tomorrow it will be different because the city is permanently evolving. Sometimes it can feel like no green areas around us and that the city is stigmatised. But about “tomorrow,” Thessaloniki appears more and more concerned about ecology and maybe about finding a new appearance, greener than all the other before. But what would happen if the city were turning itself to a sustainable way of life, self-consciousness and environmental awareness?

space for relaxation. It brings a new way of seeing a bank and the bond between nature and everyday life. Because after one year it still impresses visitors from all over the world, and at the same time also the plants in the living wall purify the interior air, minimise stress, and increase the productivity of the employees in a way.

The idea of a greener wave that is spreading in

Thessaloniki by putting some colour on the walls didn’t stop there and today you are able to see a vertical garden, with over 800 pots and four kinds of plants watered by a rainwater collection system on the Urban Environment Management Building of Thessaloniki, at 18 Kleanthous street. Aiming to demonstrate sustainable practices that promote integrated urban water management,

One of the most repre-

sentative steps about this evolution was in August 2011 when the first vertical garden was built in Thessaloniki, and it is located at the I-Bank store of the National Bank of Greece in the city centre. This electronic banking facility offers self-service e-banking as well as

Urban Environment Management Building of Thessaloniki



Local Life Sustainability

Οι Φίλοι της Νέας Παραλίας in New Beach of Thessaloniki

the innovation of this project lies in the fact that the green wall is combined with a rainwater collection system from which it is watered. Thanks to the modern system installed, rainwater is collected on the roof of the building, stored in a tank and then pumped into the automatic irrigation system. By this way, it offered sustainable and cost-effective solutions to increase available water resources and contribute to climate change adaptation, particularly in the urban environment, but also let dwellers enjoy this free green area.

© Filoi Neas Paralias Facebook page

of Thessaloniki, which is a valuable public space for residents and visitors of the city.

And they are not alone, by their side, but inside

the city, there is the Pocket Garden Park Team: Η Γειτονιά της Αλεξάνδρου Σβώλου. They share the idea that building a new urban life is possible. Also, it is a way to produce more joy and a new way to see community by doing workshops in an area in the city that they will transform into a small park built for the people.

But it will be quite a lie if we would say that And if having a cosy living environment is some-

inhabitants of Thessaloniki would have wait to take advantage of this little new gardens and didn’t make their change in the way of living ecologically. It so happens that most ordinary people established the most critical difference in the city’s appearance. Οι Φίλοι της Νέας Παραλίας (Friend of the New Beach) was this April the one that was creating fields of the flower near the Port which gave a new angle to see this area. This association is an example of a desire, consideration and action of people who believe that a better urban reality is possible. Through social actions and activism, they aim to support the experience of collective living in the New Beach


thing important to you as much as it is for all of these people, why not to join the In Art Green Week Festival 11-17th May. Because Thessaloniki is always evolving, but it can never be possible without the people.

Festival by Fix in Art 11-17th of May.

© Fix in Art

Local Life


Alexander the Great Marathon

Near the death or how my plan didn’t go as well as I intended

by Martin Naništa

The 14th Alexander the Great Marathon took place on Sunday, April 14, 2019. In addition

to the main marathon competition, you could also participate in 10 km and 5 km race. Like a great sports enthusiast, I couldn’t miss this opportunity. The weather forecast was promising too. Let’s look together how the whole experience unfolded.


marathon is unique. The course goes from his birthplace Pella to the seaside of Thessaloniki. From one statue of Alexander to another.


The marathon is a long-distance race completed usually by running, walking or in my case Preparation crawling. There are also wheelchair divisions. Its official distance is 42.195 kilometres. This To run over 40 km isn’t an easy task, especially event was instituted in commemoration of the when you want to achieve some specific time. fabled run of the Greek soldier Pheidippides, a messenger from the Battle of Marathon to Athens, who reported the victory. The marathon was one of the original modern Olympic events in 1896, though the distance did not become standardised until 1921. More than 800 marathons are held throughout the world each year, with the vast majority of competitors being recreational athletes, as larger marathons can have tens of thousands of participants.



Bib number

© Martin Naništa


Local Life SPORT

Archeological museum. So I had to take a bus there and also prepare myself for running. It was convenient that I had made everything the evening before. From museum meeting point the other buses took all the marathoners to 42 km far Pella. The starting point was in the city centre near the statue of Alexander. The sky was cloudy, and at some point, it looked like the rain will come, but luckily it was just a false alarm. Then I did all the pre-race activities - take a photo with Alexander statue and with the start gate, do Happiness before start © Martin Naništa some light warm-up run and stretching and put My goal was to run under 4 hours, so I’ve started my belongings into the vans, which took them to to look for training plans and watch the videos the finish area. on youtube with the tips and tricks on how to survive this attempt. Plus, I’ve used my own experi- 8 am — chariots of Fire by Vangelis. The moment ence from my first marathon (Košice, Slovakia, is here. First moments after start - streets full of 2016). The whole preparation took me 12 weeks. cheering people, local band is playing something, I’ve started with training in freezing January and and all the runners are trying to find their pace. finish in a still fresh April. During this period I was I wanted to run something around 5:38 min/km. running five times per week. Various distances in The terrain was also on my side, and besides various paces. That means short runs at a faster some small hills, the course was pretty flat. The pace and long runs at a more steady rhythm. I’ve clouds remained in the sky, so the temperature also explored Thessaloniki quite a lot because was ideal — something around 11°C. of these long runs (from 18 to 32 km). I’ve visited places where you usually need to take a bus, My feelings were good so far. All this changed and also I’ve found some hidden gems of the city after my first “buffet” on kilometre 20. At this (parks, viewpoints, seaside). It was my Sunday point, I start to realise that maybe my pace is ritual. It’s also very time demanding challenge - too fast and perhaps I will be unable to keep it training can last from 30 minutes to more than all the time till finish. Half-marathon I managed 3 hours. Your life should be focused on quality to run under 2 hours which was great, but after training and regeneration. Preparation for a mar- this mark, my body said enough. Slow down. athon is more lifestyle than a hobby. Stretching, Try to recover. But, it was too late. The damage cold showers, good food and quality sleep are some key elements that were part of my routine. At some point in this process, I was travelling which was a good break from training because I was starting to lose motivation and also my mind was tired. Balance is important.


The race day starts pretty early for Greek and also for my standards. The alarm clock woke me up at 3:55 am. I needed to get myself to the


Statue of Alexander in Pella

© Martin Naništa


Local Life

© Arianna Salan

U.S.B. Family participants of the 10K race

runners up. That thing helps a lot. Also, I was was done. I was out of energy, and nothing could running in the area I know from the training, so save me anymore. I had an image how far I am from the finish. In the end, the second half marathon I ran around Four hours mark was no longer the main priority. 2:45 h. So significantly slower than the first half, Few kilometres I still believed that I could man- but at this point, I don’t care about the times and age time at least around 4:30, but very soon I’ve everything. My mind was set to survival mode. also rejected this idea. From kilometre 25 basi- Last 2 kilometres was the longest distance in my cally to the end I was struggling a lot. Very often life I ever run. But in the seaside area was a lot I was changing running for walking and making a of people, so it pushed me to finish with honour. longer stops in the refreshment areas. I’ve eaten I finished with time 4:45:55h. Not my dream time and drank everything that I could, but my body but still my personal best. Also, I got a valuable was in agony. Also, the sun decided to come out. lesson. Every completed kilometre was a small victory. At this stage of the race, I was running more with my head than my legs. It was a fight, but I never thought about giving up. That’s too easy. I was devoted to finishing this bloody race.

The first mental uplift was when we finally reach the city of Thessaloniki. Previously the course leads us through the not very attractive area - small towns, empty roads, no supporters. In Thessaloniki were more people to cheer the

The Finish line

© Arianna Salan


Local Life SPORT

© Arianna Salan

Finish line

After crossing the finish line, Sacha and Arianna

were waiting for me. They took some pictures so you can see my pain. They were waiting there 45 minutes longer than they expected. Sorry girls. But it was a sweet moment. It’s always cool when there is someone who can take care of you. I was devastated, so the girls helped me a lot. I found a place in the shadow and lay down in the grass and enjoyed that moment. I can also say that there was a little endorphin rush in my brain, but the overall exhaustion was stronger at that moment. After, I went to get some massage in the recovery centre. The organisers provided this service. It was amazing. After the icing procedure and stretching, I was able to walk again, still, like an old guy but better than before.

© Arianna Salan

whole new experience like this. After I could finally go to the destination “Dreamland”.

Last words

Maybe not everything went due to my plans, but

that’s life. The powerful experience and pleasant memories will remain. All the bad will be forgotten. Now the new challenges are ahead of me for example, the official marathon with the finish on the ancient stadium in Athens. But that’s the future. Maybe distant, maybe not - I will see.

The last quest of the day for me was to take a picture in front of another statue of Alexander. Done. Teleport home. Aftermath

Back in the house, I was still a “walking dead,”

but after shower and gyros, my mood was boosted. Also, I discovered that my face is red like a tomato because the sunscreen from the morning disappeared in the stream of sweat, so I got a sunburn as a bonus. I was dead, but before sleep, I was able to watch my favourite cycling race Paris-Roubaix. With my fresh experience, I was able to feel the pain of the racers. It’s a



© Arianna Salan


Local Life

Raise your thumb

A low-cost booking-free adventure is waiting for you

by Umberto Zeverini

What do we look for when we go for a journey? Adventures? Incredible places? Interesting

meetings, maybe? Even if all these things are framed in the concept of hitchhiking, when we get the proposal of a “thumbing” trip, a concern comes first.

Marvin and Arthur Dent hitchhiking in the space. Picture from the movie The hitchhiker’s guide to galaxy directed by Garth Jennings ©

The hitchhiking is an alternative mean of trans-

idea. The life of the hitchhikers is full of snag. But portation that people have been practising since this is part of the adventure. the dawn of time. This practice started in the USA and during the 70s had its golden age. However, Before going in the middle of the street and nowadays it isn’t a popular way of travelling since start waving your thumb is important to study having a car has become standard and public something, namely the right spot where to hitchhike. Nowadays it is not so difficult to find it betransportation is more affordable to people. cause fortunately, some useful mobile apps do Go hitchhiking isn’t easy as taking the bus, of the work for us. However, some of the right spots course. Indeed it is a process that includes dif- are gas stations, toll roads or areas before the ferent phases. The first step is the same as al- on-ramps to the highways. All the preparation ways: prepare the luggage. You won’t carry a process is an emotional climax that becomes trolley with you. The best option is undoubtedly a stronger after every phase. While drawing the backpack. Taking a sleeping bag with you, a can- destination sign, you can already enjoy the taste teen and maybe an umbrella is always a good of the journey.


Local Life TRAVEL

Hitchhiking in Greece from Thessaloniki to Karidi

Finally, everything is ready. You are in the per-

fect spot, with the right equipment and a soul full of positivity. But at this moment what you need isn’t in your backpack. What you need are luck and imagination. Indeed if you are lucky, you will find a direct lift to your destination just after five minutes. But this is a small chance. This is the reason why hitchhiking is not made for timetable planners. However, having a good imagination gives you the possibility to make a way of travelling more attractive. For example, drawing a creative sign is a good idea. By the way, the keyword is perseverance. Sooner or later, when the muscles of your thumb are about to abandon you, your ride will arrive, and that will be one of the happiest moments of your life. Maybe this car will take you just five kilometres further, but at least now you know there’s hope to reach your goal.


Joking apart, hitchhiking is the most exhaustive way to have a journey. It is pure adventure. It is facing the fear of the unknown. It is a freedom from the flow of time. It is the desire to discover. Through hitchhiking, © Umberto Zeverini you can meet people of each type, with any story. Besides, these people can help you to find out places that are unknown to mainstream tourism. And guess what? All of this is for free. It is not all sunshine and rainbows but certainly it is an excellent way to challenge yourself. Anyway, if it seems that everything is going wrong, remember what the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy of Douglas Adams says: “Don’t panic!”

The famous slogan from Douglas Adams’ book The hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy ©

People of Thessaloniki

Local Life

The challenge of the 969 beers

The story of a true fan of the most popular drink in the world

by Irene Cortés del Moral

Some of us like beer. Others love it. But there is a man who is passionate. So much, that he has a mission to try the total of 969 different beers. In the summer of 2014, Giorgos Symeonidis was drinking with his friends and came up with this unique idea. A friend and he fixed a random number and got down to work. Five years later, being 30 years old, Giorgos has tasted 425 different beers. tries. However, he confesses that he loves Greek beer it and he assures that they are of very good quality. It has no destination or dream beer, but in May of this year, it will travel to Malta to try as many beers as possible. However, it’s clear which is his favourite beer and which one never will try again. Denmark is the place of origin of his favourite drink, specifically the Tivoli beer. He also confessed that it’s a bit expensive, he paid 25€ for a pack of 3 beers. The worst part is for Sweden because the worst he has ever tried in his life was from IKEA. Beer is definitely not their business. Giorgos Symeonidis drinking a beer © Giorgos Symeonidis Instagram account (February 2018)

This peculiar Greek plays the double bass and

is a teacher at a music school in Thessaloniki. Between classes and concerts, he travels around Europe and in the process tries all the possible beers. Norway, Denmark, Germany, Bulgaria or North Macedonia are some of the destinations he went to taste the typical beers of these coun-

Giorgos started this hobby with his friend, but

only he has continued with the challenge. He also has a little brother who loves this drink. Two years later he also started with this tasting beers, although differently because he is very interested in research and the making process. Our protagonist says that he is more relaxed and most of the times he drinks beer when he is with his friends. He only drinks one or two per week.


Local Life People of Thessaloniki

Giorgos trying beer from Spain

It may seem complicated to keep track of and remember all the beers that he has tried, that’s why he has extra help: Untappd. This App allows Giorgos to point and keep track of all the different beers he drinks. He says it’s incredible because there are thousands of beers registered. You can classify them by country, brand, alcohol grades, type, etc. Although he confesses that he


© Giorgos Symeonidis Instagram account (Greece, 2019)

would love to collect the bottles, he doesn’t have space for it. So he collects the caps and stickers of each beer he had tried.

But what happens when Giorgos completes the

challenge and has drank the 969 beers? He is clear: another random number will be marked, and he will continue enjoying beer in his way.

People of Thessaloniki

Local Life

What if there is no movement if it’s just waiting?

Story of four young men living in Thessaloniki

by Emilie Simon

Nabil, Ziad, Wassim and Yann are four young boys who came to Thessaloniki

during last three years. They are telling about themselves, their hopes and dreams, everyday life and how was their journey to Greece.

I decided to interview them after what I saw

How old are you and where are you from?

at the door of a Thessaloniki nightclub as they Yann: “I’m from Guinea Conakry, and I’m 18 have been denied to enter regarding their origin. years old.” After this, I wanted to know more about their lives as migrants in Greece as I was shocked Nabil: “I’m from Algeria, and I’m 21 years old.” realising the injustice that was happening in front of my eyes and how I couldn’t do anything When did you leave your country and to help them. I decide to learn more about them how was your trip to come here? and which kind of discrimination they suffer ofZiad: I left Algeria 2 years ago. From Algeria to ten - this is their story: Turkey and after I had to cross Turkey and Thessaloniki by boat and walk. It was horrible. We were 75 people on a little boat, and later we had to hide inside a truck in order not to be found.

How was your first impression when you arrived to Greece?

Yann: We all thought that we’d be secure here,

but it was not exactly like that.

Wassim: When we fled our country we were


full of hopes and dreams, and when we arrived here we had to forget them and we keep slowly losing our hope.


Local Life People of Thessaloniki

Major routes migrants often take to arrive to Europe


How did you guys meet?

Ziad: I meet Yann for the first time in a restau-

rant. Nabil and Wassim in a football session.

Ziad: A friend invited us to join her at a nightclub.

Do you feel discriminated in this country? Why?

Do you feel that people look at you in a different way? How does it make you feel?

At the entry, the security told us that we couldn’t enter because of our origin, claiming that in the Do you feel secure in this country? past an Arabic guy made some trouble and that, Yann: Unfortunately not. One day, during a walk for them, every Arabic is the same. People here with a friend in Aristoteles Square, seven guys remind us often that our origin is a problem. attacked us to bleed. After the aggression, we went to the police to let them know that people Nabil: It’s been three years since me and Wasim attacked us. They did nothing. The thing that live in Greece, we speak the language and we shocked me more was that on the square was know and respect the mentality of the Greek full of people. During the aggression there were people. I think would be fair to have the same hundreds of people and they are doing nothing. rights as the people here. They just watch us being beaten by the other.


Yes, we feel discriminated. It hap- Nabil: Yes. We try to ignore them, but for us it is pened to us being kicked out of a clothing store usual. I had people hiding their bags from me inby the security without any reason besides our side the bus just because of my presence. Nowappearance. adays I try to not to look at anyone in the bus.


People of Thessaloniki

What is your worst experience connected to racism here?

Local Life

When you’re down what motivates you?

Ziad: I like to be alone, listen to music while Ziad: I was with a Syrian friend walking on the thinking about the problems and analyse it to

street when a policeman started to follow us, and after a moment they stop us in a little street. The policeman asks my papers and if I’m Algerian; I said yes, and he asked me what am I doing here - that Algerian people are thieves. After a moment he asked me why I was walking with a Syrian guy. He searched our bag and when he realised we only had an orange, he let us go.

find solutions. But it’s complicated and hard.

Your best memories here?

All: When we had the chance to meet a French

girl in the streets of Thessaloniki. Since then, she became a big part of our lives. We took care of each other, taught each other our about our culand languages and that changed a lot for Wasim: Nabil and I were near the stadium to tures us. play football, and when a policeman saw us, he came to ask us what we were doing there. After Where do you want to go when the explanation, the policeman started a body you will have the right to leave this search on us, and they said that the Algerian country? government is criminal. They claimed we were hiding something and decide to search our bag Wassim: We dream to go a place where we can to be sure that we weren’t lying. They only found have a normal life,hope, where equality and felballs inside the bag, and they went away. lowship are present.

Would you like to leave a message for those who don’t treat you with respect?

What’s your biggest dream?

Yann: I dream to become a football player and to have a normal life.

Yann: We are humans, not animals. We deserve the same treatment as any other person. We fled Ziad: I want to work with media and to have a our country for a reason; we want a normal life, normal life. a better life. This interview aimed to show how a migrant or a refugee’s life can be hard, how people are easily How are your days here? hated without a deeper knowledge. How daily life Nabil: Our routine is to wake up and walk in the is limited and a fight for survival. How people are street. We can’t do anything. We can’t work, we forced to forget their dreams, and their hope to can’t go in university, we can’t leave this country, have a better life. Quoting Nelson Mandela: “To all we are allowed to do it’s to walk around the deny people their human rights is to challenge city and even that can be dangerous sometimes. their very humanity.”


Out Of The Borders Social and Political

Eurovision: music, entertainment & controversy

Eurovision can be way more than just a song contest

by André Cruz

May is the month that hosts what is probably the most famous song contest on planet

earth. After previous selection in their home countries at least 50 participants mostly from Europe (although there’s often invited countries from all over the globe) present original songs – only original songs can go to the contest – seeking victory.

More or less famous around Europe, Eurovision

2014 decision to annexe Crimea; a decision that it’s mostly a big event for the nations in the con- generates a war between the two countries and test. Along the years many things have changed that devastated mostly Ukraine and its territory in the competition (for example, after the Swed- (from the Crimean area to the capital, Kiev). ish band “ABBA” won the contest with a English speaking song, the organizers changed the rules “When strangers are coming/ and it became mandatory for the countries to They come to your house/ They present their songs in one of their official lan- kill you all/ And say/We’re not guages - a rule that doesn’t exist anymore), but guilty/Not guilty.” the way to elect the winner remained the same: — the first verses of “1944” the citizens of the involved countries decide the winner through a phone vote. Having in this year it’s the 64th edition, Eurovision’s first edition oc- The contest was used to raise awareness also curred in Switzerland, and the location from that in the next edition, in Ukraine. During one of the moment on is decided according to the winning press conferences that precedes the semifinals, country - the country who wins an edition will be the Portuguese participant Salvador Sobral, that became the winner, showed up wearing a t-shirt the next organizer of the contest in its land. with S.O.S Refugees written on it, during a time Apart from what is known by most of us, Eurovi- when the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean sea sion can also be the motto for topics that go be- was one of the most tragic topics in Europe (... yond music and entertainment. Considering that and still is). A symbolic gesture, with the hope people from all over the world are focused on that by being aware, the everyday citizens of this the contest and that several nations there rep- world, could improve and help each other more. resented, some artists use it to raise awareness or to make political or ideological position. Not As Salvador won the so long ago we had an example of it: the 2016 contest in Ukraine, the edition won by Jamala, Ukrainian singer with the 2018 edition happened song “1944”. The lyrics described how during in Lisbon, the capital of this year, more than 240.000 Ukrainian Tatars Portugal. Although the (from Crimea) faced deportation from Russia, competition occurred under Stalin’s governance - a compelling topic without any of these and memory, especially considering Russia’s previous situations, the

The map of Crimea © Wikipedia


Social and Political

winner would create a polemic edition of Eurovision again: the song “Toy” from the Israeli singer Netta Barzilai won. Besides the arguable quality of the music itself (Eurovision never had the musical quality as an essential factor to win), with winning Eurovision 2018, Netta took the contest to Israel. And right after that, the controversy started.

the boycott movement was extended to the Eurovision, due to the “apartheid” that the founders of this movement consider that is lived in Israel.

Out Of The Borders

Press conference where Salvador showed up with the message ©

The foundation of Israel in 1947 was from the Several mediatic people joined this movement.

beginning of a controversial decision since its territory was culturally rich and diversely inhabited before. Skipping the extended discussion that it’s directly connected with the state of Israel - the external policies that Israel applies in the territories of the West Bank and Gaza (pieces of land proclaimed for long decades from Palestine) are factually aggressive and extremely violent. Each day the vast army that serves the country also expands the territory, act considered by many people, institutions and states of our planet as an illegal occupation. As a consequence of this, a large group of people decided to create the Boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement to raise awareness and make the country less powerful:

“Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) is a Palestinian-led movement for freedom, justice and equality. BDS upholds the simple principle that Palestinians are entitled to the same rights as the rest of humanity.”

Roger Waters, legendary bass player of Pink Floyd and all-time activist, went further and wrote a letter to the Portuguese participant Conan Osiris. In the letter, called “Are you the one”, Waters explains why Osiris (and the other participants) shouldn’t participate and how his courage could make the difference. Waters also made a video asking the same to the Greek participant Katerine Duska. Both attended. In the contest, the Icelandic band “Hatari” chose to protest by participating anyways, and not through Boycott. The group presented a song called “Hate will prevail,” and didn’t hide that it’s a direct protest against the violence going on in this area of the planet. Besides this fact, during the vote process, the band hold a scarf with the flag and the name of Palestine, a clear and powerful position. The group affirmed the wish they have for the end of the violence and injustice that happens daily in this part of the globe.


also used her mediatism to raise awareness. During her performance in Eurovision, the american singer chose to call for the Inside the regular work made by this movement, unity of Israel and Palestine, through the lyrics and considering that the contest will be in Israel, of the song and by having the dancers wearing both flags and hugging. Both acts were condemned by Israel, which can say a lot about the intentions of the country to reach an agreement where both nations can exist in peace.

The Icelandic Hatari


Perceived by most of the people like a song contest, Eurovision can be way more than that - and proves that whenever there’s a moment where nations are involved, no matter on which area, it can always be way more than a contest, a friendly competition.


Out Of The Borders Social and Political


Social and Political

Out Of The Borders

Š Martin Naniťta


Out Of The Borders Social and Political

European elections experience as ambassador for Erasmus+

How I had a chance to spend one day in the European Parliament by Agnieszka Trygar

At the beginning of February, I got a chance to participate in a workshop in Brussels, and

I became an ambassador of European Elections for Erasmus+ people. Project “Erasmus Vote Power - A ​ ctive citizens for an active Europe” which aim to motivate the Erasmus Generation to go to vote for the European elections, which will take place between 23 and 26 May 2019. Foundation gragErasmus invited Erasmus Ambassadors to encourage and discuss the active involvement of young citizens living abroad during the European elections.

I found information about this event to become

an ambassador on Facebook. I sent my application by email and some time I got the answer that I was chosen as the ambassador in Greece. After some time, all European ambassadors met in the European Parliament in Brussels for a workshop preparing us to take our role.

“Statistics show that during the EP Elections in

1979, 62% of EU citizens voted. Since then, the turnout had experienced a substantial decrease, despite the minute rise of 0,9% in 2014…

The problem we identified is that most of the stu-

dents are not informed on HOW they should vote,

the deadlines for the bureaucracy to vote from abroad (in 2014 lots were not able to exercise their right). There is not (yet) a European regulation on this matter and, so far, the most active European citizens could be prevented from voting.

For all these reasons the project aims to foster European citizenship and promote the European Parliament as the only European Institution democratically elected by the citizens. With this project, we will have a particular focus on the Erasmus Generation (current and alumni), being - among all the target groups - the most pro-European and interested in issues such as youth unemployment, economy and growth but - at the same time - facing problems to vote while abroad.The Erasmus Generation comprehends different parts of society (students, professionals, unemployed, etc) but they are all linked by experience abroad. They saw Europe at its best, and they can properly be Ambassadors of the EE19. This project will allow them to get information

Day in European Parliament


© garagErasmus

on how to vote from abroad during their mobil-

Social and Political

Workshops in Balkan Heart

© Agnieszka Trygar

Workshops in Balkan Heart

Out Of The Borders

© Agnieszka Trygar

ity or stay abroad and to get a basic knowledge participants about the choices and how they see of EU policies and priorities.”(Francesco Cappe, themselves in Europe. President of the garagErasmus foundation) Unfortunately, in every country, there are difAt the beginning of February, a group of around ferences when it comes to voting from abroad. 25 young people met with representatives of the Mainly, in any case, you should register at the gragErasmus foundation at the European Parlia- Consulate or Embassy in the country where you ment in Brussels. GragErasmus is a professional are currently staying and preparing the necesnetwork of the Erasmus Generation that aims to sary documents for voting. Each country also support the shaping of better-integrated Europe. has a different deadline for registration. There is also the option of voting through someone who It was a one-day meeting where we explained is currently in your country and votes on your our role as ambassador. The event was attend- behalf. The online voting option exists only for ed by active members of the Erasmus Students Estonia. Some countries do not have the option Network and the Erasmus Mundus Association, of voting from abroad, and the only option is to along with other students, young international return to the country during the election period, professionals and Erasmus Volunteers. such as Slovakia or Malta.

Our main goal as ambassadors became to show students, volunteers who are currently on foreign exchange with Erasmus or Erasmus+, that although they are abroad during the parliamentary elections, they can still vote. The main idea to provide this information is the organization of an event, a direct meeting with youth. When the organization of VotEU had workshops

in Balkan Heart about rising the awareness of the necessity of voting in the European Parliament, I also organized my event. On this day, I focused on explaining the issue from scratch, that is, the role of democracy, explaining the role of the Parliament and other institutions. The most important was the discussion, interaction between the

Being an ambassador is an extraordinary time

for me from being in the European Parliament to creating workshops in connection with the elections in May. Thanks to this I got to know different views on how we feel European and what is being in the Union for us.

During the workshop in Brussels, I said: “My par-

ents told me that they voted on my behalf in for Poland’s accession to the European Union and 15 years later, I can stand in the Parliament as a person who was a student abroad and currently is a volunteer of the Erasmus + program.”

Now, when we have the power to go on election,

it’s time to vote for us, for our future.


Out Of The Borders Social and Political

Genepi, instilling movement in closed spaces by Emma Lesburgueres

In France, a student organisation called Genepi works to open up the prisons for almost

fifty years. First created after riots, its goal was to collaborate with the public effort in favour of prisoners’ rehabilitation. Now, it has widened his social object to a lot of different actions encouraging the diffusion of knowledge in a very horizontal manner.


the villages and towns of our ancestors, prisons did not exist. Social control was strong enough that people acting against dominant values of the groups were immediately detected. The troublemakers were then banned from the territory or punished quickly and violently.

However, with trade organisation and the devel-

opment of the first manufactures, cities sprang up. Detention practices progressed. At the end of the Middle Age, deprived and idle people were regrouped; the authorities did not want them to wander in the street. They were trying to hide them and to put them to work.

Begging and wandering, due to their prevalence at this time, were indeed submitted to relentless repression: these practices were questioning the legitimacy of the power and were obstacles to the needs created by the development of the industry. The large manufacturing sites were functioning thanks to a servile working force, immediately available and exploitable. On the contrary, wanderers escaped taxes, dispersed their labour force and did not take any part in the production; they were jeopardising the most elementary economic processes. Detention centers were thus built to force these people to accept the established order and the hierarchy of social classes.

One of Genepi’s actions in 2018: “The State confines, prison assassinates.”



Social and Political

Modern prison is based on those premises: fix-

ing people at a certain place to be able to control and monitor them. Until recently, in France, the prison was almost completely isolated from the society: for example, the family links were much reduced and the inmates had almost no access to outside information or to socio-cultural activities.

However, the situation changed at the beginning

of the seventies. In 1974, riots broke out in nine French prisons, during which six inmates died. After this, the President of the Republic decided to open up the prison world to public opinion. From this was born the idea to involve students: in 1976, the Groupement Étudiant National d’Enseignement aux Personnes Incarcérées (G.E.N.E.P.I.) was established. Today, it regroups almost 900 volunteers in 37 local groups.


has two principal missions: intervention in detention and public awareness and informing. The actions inside the prison are at the heart of the Genepi. It is one of the only organisations in

Out Of The Borders

France habilitated to enter and intervene in jail. Their aim is not to let their fellow citizens be locked out far away from the rest of the society, without any contact. The volunteers are trying to add some colours and movement to prisons, a little moment out of detention for these people whose daily life is only thick walls.

Then, the public awareness mission is helpful

to change the negative opinion of society about prison. In this context, they organise every year – from the 25 March to the 18 May in 2019 – a festival called “Le Printemps des Prisons” (the Spring of Prisons) throughout France: exhibitions, workshops and discussions are on the agenda. Volunteers use their critical thinking and their duty of testimony for society, to compensate for everyone that looks away from this place. Indeed, prison is a shaded area they try to make more visible by denouncing the issues they witness in detention. For example, in Une parole prisonnière (a captive word), they reported the forced muteness of the inmates and the problem of collective and individual speaking in prison.

“On 20 August 2016, Kévin, 22 years old, killed himself. In 2016, 83 suicides were identified. In France, in prison.”



Out Of The Borders Social and Political

A Genepi’s staging to inform the public.

At first, G.E.N.E.P.I. was entirely dependent on the

Justice Minister – which was responsible for his creation. But progressively, the organisation opposed some laws and started becoming more autonomous and militant. In 2016 for example, they launched a communication campaign around the slogans “Prison seriously harms your health” and “Prison kills” to denounce the number of suicides of inmates. Indeed, in the French prisons, one of two deaths is caused by suicide, and the suicide rate in jail is seven times higher than out.

“In the French prisons, one of two deaths is caused by suicide.”

This emancipation was then confirmed when the

organisation changed their social purpose in 2014: from “collaborating to the public effort in favour of the social reintegration of incarcerated persons”, it went to “working towards the departitioning of prisons through the circulation of knowledge between incarcerated persons, external public and volunteers.” By doing this, they affirmed their position on reintegration – whose definition was not the same as the government’s – and on the extent of their actions, which they wanted wider than only giving courses to inmates.


critical stances have caused conflicts with the Minister of Justice and the Government.



In November 2018, the historical partnership between Genepi and the prison administration was not renewed, and the organisation lost their subventions. However, a new convention was signed in February 2019, but it confined the activities of Genepi to academic support again – preventing other socio-cultural workshops that volunteers set up in the past.

“These critical stances have caused conflicts with the Minister of Justice and the Government.”

The Minister of Justice was still really critical of Genepis’ actions and thesis, which she considered as “very hostile to the public policy that [the government] was conducting”. Indeed, instead of just supporting the reintegration effort, Genepi took a position strongly opposed to imprisonment itself. Although they still interrogate the conditions of detention in jail, especially in this time of prison overcrowding, their stand goes even further: it is the principle of imprisonment which is questioned. The ideology of the detention remains strong though, and the alternatives sometimes end up reproducing the same logic. However, this challenge is important, to break out of this system which also amplifies inequalities – because it mainly targets young men from lower social class – and constitutes one of the main modern forms of domination.

Social and Political

Out Of The Borders

When movement is prevented

A reading of the Greek Caravan of Hope by Arianna Salan

The events related with the migrant caravan that attempted and failed to cross the Greece-

North Macedonia border at the beginning of April say a lot about the challenges of our time. They are a powerful statement about hope, rights, justice, and freedom, too often disregarded nowadays in Greece, and the whole of Europe.

It all started from a rumour that circulated on social networks and Whatsapp. The news that there would be a possibility to leave Greece through its Northern border spread around the informal networks where migrants and refugees gather information through. That’s why at the beginning of April thousands of people were on the alert, chasing the illusion to turn around a situation that in many cases is hopelessly stuck, either in endless bureaucratic limbos or in the tight nets of illegal status.

governments, facilitate the violent repression of whoever tries to cross the borders without the “right” paper. But for many people, even a vague and baseless message sounded as an occasion not to be lost. The situation of refugees in Greece is particularly hard. They face precarious living conditions in the governmental camps, in the big hotspots of the islands, or on the mainland, and they struggle with the lack of opportunities, paired with the limitation of their freedom to move elsewhere.

The so-called Balkan Route used to be one of the That is what brought thousands of men and

main passages towards Europe by land, at least until 2016. Currently, the more and more restrictive European policies about migration, together with international and local agreements between

Map of the main spots of the events. © elaboration by Arianna Salan on Creative Commons map

women, many of them together with their children, to undertake that tough path. Many started to gather around the camp of Diavata, in the North of Greece, not far from Thessaloniki. The idea was that to reproduce the big Caravan of Hope that crossed part of Central America at the end of last year, when thousands of people moved together from Honduras, headed North in the attempt to reach the United States. The force of the substantial crowd, moving slowly but continuously, allowed many to cross the borders of many countries, before finding harder obstacles in Mexico and the USA.

In the Greek case, however, the context was different. The public authorities, aware of the rumours, were prepared to push back the wave at its roots. Already in the area of Diavata, besides being more than 60 km away from the actual


Out Of The Borders Social and Political

railways as a protest against the decision. As a result, the police enclosed the station, all the train were cancelled, and no one was allowed to enter, while negotiations with the protesters were carried on.

Police lined up to stop people who want to advance. Diavata Camp, 6th April 2019. © Daphne Tolis

border, the police didn’t hesitate to use tear gas and stun grenades against the migrant, to stop their journey and disperse them. Meanwhile, to prevent other people in joining the area, the circulation of trains and public buses toward Thessaloniki was suspended. This undermined the only power of the caravan: a lot of people couldn’t join the group and reinforce the struggle, and they were more easily controllable, following the most classical rule of “divide and conquer”. In Athens, some people occupied the


The possibility for who would renounce to the fight was to be brought back to their camps. It was offered by the authorities in charge of the refugee hosting system in Greece: national and international organisms, such as the Ministry of Migration, the Unhcr and the IOM, that coordinate their activities in managing the refugees present in the country. The proposal appears controversial, besides ignoring the fact that many of those migrants were not hosted in any public structure. It can be seen as the only reasonable solution to avoid the risks for the lives of many people, including many children, that are led by desperation to clash with more significant forces. What can a group of desperate

Police in front of the central station, preventing entry to everyone. Athens, 5th April 2019. © Arianna Salan

Social and Political

do, against the closed and sealed borders of Fortress Europe and the ruthless push backs of the border police, that they would face in every country on the way? But the argument used by the authorities is double-edged: the advice for migrants to dismiss the struggle, in order not to risk their lives, is consistent with the systematic violence that they are regularly exposed to. It is a form of blackmail aimed at control, forcing them to accept inhuman living conditions and to give up on any agency they try to express. Living in a governmental camp, being irregular, living in a squat or being homeless, anyway being trapped into the bureaucratic tangles created by international agreements, is a “privilege” that many are ready to risk, running after a weak hope of freedom.

Out Of The Borders

People getting on the bus provided to return back to their camps. Athens, 5th April 2019. © Arianna Salan

In nowadays Europe, freedom of movement is a

controversial issue. On the one hand, for European citizens, it is recognized and implemented as a fundamental right. It entails not only the freedom of leaving a country when desired, but also the right to stay where desired, to settle, to have some basic standard of security, a shelter, and essential services, accessible all across Europe. That should be even truer when the decision of leaving is due to the lack of possibilities for a dignous life, and when bureaucratic issues force the stay in a particular Country. But the story changes when the movement follows those cracks that were designed by the colonial past of Europe, and are deepen day after day by

Young asylum-seekers watch as fire burns at a field next to the makeshift camp. Diavata camp, 5th April 2019. © Daphne Tolis

Refugees clashes with the police. Diavata camp, 6th April 2019. © Angelos Christofilopoulos


Out Of The Borders Social and Political

Police checking the documents of everyone entering the central station. Athens, 6th April 2019. © Arianna Salan

© Arianna Salan

the processes of contemporary economic colonialism. When it comes to migrants, freedom of movement is ignored in two directions: they are powerless both concerning moving and concerning staying.

by the maintenance of the public order, everyone who wanted to travel North by public transportation on April 5th tasted a little of what does it mean not to be able to move. The decision to stop the circulation of trains and buses from all over Greece to control the movement of a particular category is a definite hint of how much the authorities give prominence to the interest of the state, over than to the respect of human rights. This shows also that the implementation of inalienable rights, including the right to movement, is very much dependent on actual conditions (infrastructures, permissions) that don’t look so untouchable after all.


a few days after the protest was suppressed, Greek police carried out the eviction of four squats in Exarchia, Athens, where many migrants had found shelter. The clearance plan had started already in February, in an attempt for the local government to gain credibility among the public opinion, the next elections getting closer. Under the threat of a new violent eviction of the protest makeshift camp that they built in Syntagma square, some of them accepted IOM’s offer to be hosted in a state camp, but many remained homeless: either they chose it, not feeling safe in the camp environment, or the same institutions refused them because of bureaucratic reasons. The rhetoric applied by the authorities appears, again, to be more state-wise than concerned about human rights.

Following state, reason entails to often silence

voices and control bodies. Discarding human rights always starts from the rights of the others: it starts pointing the undesirables, blaming the minorities, taking over who don’t have voting power. But once the argument is accepted, it is just a little step until it will break down for everyone. That’s why it is important to refuse any exception to the respect of human dignity for the This is something of concern for everyone, not sake of an alleged superior authority. Which soonly from a humanitarian point of view. Justified ciety do we want to live in?



Out Of The Borders


What it (still) takes to be a woman in 21st century

by Marleen Müts

In 1965 married women in France obtained the right to work without having formal permission from their husband. In Australia, until 1983 married women could not apply for passports without their husband’s approval. Marital rape was not illegal in Britain until 1991. In 21st century, it seems like we have overcome most of issues connected to oppression of women. But have we really? During the 21st Thessaloniki Documentary Festi-

val in March a documentary by swiss director Barbara Miller named “#FemalePleasure” was projected. It is a documentary of women, their sexuality and issues connected to it. It follows five women from all over the world fighting for women’s rights, and talking openly about sexuality from a feminine perspective, their needs and rights.

Barbara Miller is a person with the courage to make the difference in the world. So as she was studying philosophy, psychology and cinema

Barbara Miller, the director of #FemalePleasure ©

science and finished as a lawyer, she felt she wanted to make a change in the world. “When I graduated, I had this feeling that I want to fight for justice.” As she felt that being a lawyer wouldn’t make so much difference, she decided to go through cinema. On her professional journey, she chose to talk about topics in our society that are not expressed often, as in her another documentary “Forbidden Voices.”




making documentaries and travelling, Barbara Miller discovered that when it comes to sexuality, for women it is not about pleasure but more about obligation.While doing research, she came across texts in the holy books. “When I realized that all the five world religions in the end have an idea of women as impure, I really felt I want to make a film about this, because I felt this is absolutely crazy. I never imagined that it is the same all over the world. That we are told that women are not worthy because of their body.”


Out Of The Borders Cinema

“We are told that women are not worthy because of their body.”

In the movie, the five main world religions, Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are represented by the women that are telling their story. US-American author Deborah Feldman who left the New York City Hasidic Jew community, Somali psychotherapist Leyla Hussein underwent genital mutilation as a child and fights against this practice, Japanese manga artist Rokudenashiko, who was arrested because of her work featuring female genitalia, Bavarian scholar Doris Wagner, a former nun, reported publicly on the experiences of abuse in a spiritual community in Rome and Vithika Yadav, who works as a sex education publisher in Delhi. The film is not about faith or God’s belief but it is about a patriarchal system sustained and supported by religion. “It is very important to me to that the movie would not attack religion, because believing and faith is a very personal thing and for example in the protagonist stories, the former nun says that nowadays she believes even stronger in God.”

Leyla Hussein in Kenya


“When I found the texts of these five holy books

(of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and Hinduism), I decided to take this as a guideline.” She was searching for five women from these five religions. Important in this was that they would really dare to talk about the female sexuality and what it is to be a woman to break these taboos and that they really know that how dangerous or hard it can be. Through other people, Barbara Miller found these five brave women. All of them already had made this step in public and they knew how the reactions can be. “When I met these women, there was a big cultural difference with them, but I felt that we all are fighting for the same thing. It was very beautiful how from the very first meeting we had a good connection with this five women and they all agreed to participate.”

The filming process took all together five years.

For Miller, it was important to show the stories and women in their own environment, so she followed the protagonists in their life and culture. That’s when she also followed Layla Hussein to Kenya to a meeting about Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), which was the most touching moment for her. There were men and



Rokudenashiko with her artwork

“For me it was a very first time in my life that I cried during shooting.” — Barbara Miller, the director.

women sitting there all over Africa, realizing what they are doing to little girls. “It is good to see that when you dare to talk about heavy topics and taboo topics, then people realize what it means, weather it is sexual harassment or rape or FGM. For me it was the very first time in my life that I cried during shooting. “ The reasons why female genital mutilations are performed vary from one region to another, not only in Africa, but all over the world. FGM is associated with cultural ideals of femininity, which include the notion that girls are clean after removal of body parts that are considered unclean, unfeminine or male. Still today, Every 11th second, a girl is mutilated. In Somalia, 98% of women are gone through the practice (Unicef, 2016).

When starting with the idea of the documen-

tary, the goal was to create awareness. As she started with the documentary, she didn’t know

Out Of The Borders


how it is going to turn out about men’s position in the movie.“When the trailer was out, there was some negativity in the internet. But when the film came out, it changed.” There is a lot of positive feedback about “#Female Pleasure” documentary, which is also very important for the protagonists, because some of them got a positive feeling for the first time about their work regarding to this documentary. Positive feedback came from Catholic church. Also, half a year after this documentary came out, the former nun Doris Wagner was contacted by the Orthodox church to finally listen to her story. During that time, Pope Francis also admitted for the first time that there have been violations by priests and bishops happening against women and things have to change.

“I finally realize what it is to be a woman and I can see that there is something I can do to be part of this change.” — a male spectator from one of the screenings.


Out Of The Borders Cinema

Deborah Feldman


Doris Wagner


men and then everything is fine. “If we don’t change this, it will stay as a first idea of young changing. Because for thousands of years we people - this is their reality. Young people see have been told that female body is something pornography way before they are talked about sinful and doesn’t have the same value as mens’ sex in schools. It is really damaging.” body.” In modern society we forget about the fact that it comes from the religion and many peo- It is important to keep an open communication ple are not so religious anymore. But the idea about topics that are taboo and not to forget of making the difference is still very strongly where are is the beginning of some attitude. But attached to our societies. Advertisements, mu- Barbara Miller will continue to make the peosic videos, Instagram, the whole beauty industry ple stop and think for a second all around the that women always have to be beautiful. Not to world. Lately, #FemalePleasure won the Human mention pornography, where women are objects. Prize Award from Istanbul film festival and she A course of fake orgasms for women - women revealed that she might want to make a docustill nowadays feel like they have to please the mentary about male sexuality too.

“It’s good to see that things are finally slowly

Vithika Yadav before one of her educational performances




Out Of The Borders

Seven lessons for a happier life from Lev Tolstoy

People who inspire

by Dima Cojocaru

Lev Tolstoy, born in 1828 and died 1910, was a member of the Russian nobility, coming from a

family with the vast estate and hundreds of serfs. The life of young Tolstoy was intense, violent. “I killed people in the wars and caused people to duel for killing them. I lost in money games, I lived on the back of the peasants, and moreover, I punished them, I lived in disarray and disappointed people… I lived like this for 10 years,” the author confessed.

But, slowly, he found the power to break out of this decadent lifestyle and even his aristocratic environment, adopting a lifestyle that shocked his fellow men. After studying his biography and reading his books, I found 7 lessons which Tolstoy has learnt for a happier life.

vation of their houses. Tolstoy loved the peasants’ company, and in general, the modest men, avoiding as much as possible literary elites and aristocrats from the big cities. Tolstoy was convinced that you can not truly understand people’s lives unless you come to live like those people.

Lesson 1: One of Tolstoy great qualities was al- Lesson 3: Tolstoy could not carelessly witness

ways to learn from new experiences. The despicable bloodshed he witnessed during Crimean War in 1850s turned him into a convinced pacifist. In 1857, after witnessing a guillotine in Paris – the writer could never forget the image of the head fell into the box after execution. Tolstoy became an opponent of the state and of the laws, believing that the government are not just brutal but also enshrined the interests of the rich and powerful people. “The state is a conspiracy,” Tolstoy wrote to friend. ”As things stand, I will no longer serve any government anywhere.”

Lesson 2: Tolstoy showed an unusual ability to put

himself in the skin of others and to empathize with the needs of those people. In 1860s, Tolstoy began to wear peasant clothes and work side by side with peasant in his field. He wasn’t afraid to help the simple people with work in agriculture or with reno-

the sufferings of those around him. In 1873, after an absolutely disastrous agricultural year, Tolstoy interrupted work on his famous novel, “ Anna Karenina,” to help those suffering from deficiency. “I can not leave living creatures to devote myself to some imagination,” Tolstoy told to a relative. Friends and family thought that the writer was on the edge of madness, and Tolstoy did not write anything for a year. He repeated the experience 18 years later, when he did not hesitate to dedicate two years of his life helping those who suffered. He worked in the kitchens and used his spare time to raise funds.

Lesson 4: After a nervous breakdown in the late 1870s, Tolstoy rejected any religious institution, including the Orthodox Church. The writer adopted a revolutionary Christian faith, based on spiritual and material austerity. He stopped


Out Of The Borders Books

to the field. On the wall in front of his desk were always a scythe and a saw. In the last years of his life, visitors was surprised to see him having power and excitement for repairing his new shoes.

Lesson 7: But the essential life lesson Tolstoy taught us is that the best way to fight our beliefs and prejudices is to surround us with people whose opinions and lifestyles differ significantly from ours. The real challenge for man – both Tolstoy’s contemporaries and for today’s people- is to stretch out his conversational wings and spend time with those whose values and experiences differ. Tolstoy advise us to travel as far as beyond the perimeter of our comfort zone. Lev Tolstoy was a known writer, he wrote a lot

Lev Tolstoy in old age

Source: Google Image

to drink and smoke and became a vegetarian. It also inspired the creation of utopian communities based on a simple and self-sufficient life where the property is shared. These communities spread to the Globe, and 1910 Gandhi discovered and ashram called the “Tolstoy Farm”.

Lesson 5: This new life, based on simplicity, was not an effortless and contradictory one. Tolstoy was always and “apostle” of universal love, but he constantly quarreled with his wife. Moreover, Tolstoy, the man who talked to everyone about the value of equality, has never been able to give up his fortune and his privileged lifestyle. He lived to deep old age in a giant house served by servants. But at the beginning of the 1890s, he renounced the copyright for much of his work against his family’s will. Thus, he wasted and important fortune. Given privileged position from which life began, his personal transformation, if not complete, deserves all our admiration.

of books and it is definitely worth reading his work. Here are some of the examples: “War and Peace”- published in 1865 is talking about russian community during the war with Napoleon in 1805-1812. It is a very long novel, but once you start to read you will never want to stop. So the magnitude of the novel becomes a virtue, and it makes you to read more. Another novel called“Anna Karenina”“ - published in 1878, it is about the tragic love of the married lady Anna Karenina and the brilliant officer Vronsky against the background of a happy family life of the nobles Konstantin Levin and Kitty Shcherbatskaya. This novel can make you born in you a lot of feelings. “Anna Karenina” can be one of the most tragic novel in our days.

Lesson 6: Tolstoy has always said that finding

balance between mind and his body is an essential part of a creative process. It often happened that he let the pen down to go with the horses


Lev Tolstoy in young age

Lev Tolstoy’s most popular novel Anna Karenina Source: Google Image


Out Of The Borders


How to deal with this magical land

by Manuela Locci

Since I was nine years old, I have always travelled a lot, constantly searching for something

that would leave me speechless and with a strong desire to discover different destinations and cultures. Jordan was my latest discovery. I left Greece without any particular expectation but determined to be surprised by a new and different country from mine.

Al Dei (Monastery) - Petra

I spent the first day of my journey in Aqaba, the

only coastal city in Jordan located on the Red Sea. The day passed by quickly among the main streets of the town with a group of friends found 2,621.0 km away from Thessaloniki. Right after sunset, precisely at 19:14, with a cup of coffee in our hands and the Sharif Hussein bin Ali Mosque in front of us, we listened to the Ṣalāt al-maghrib,

© Manuela Locci

the fourth of the five obligatory prayers in the Islamic religion. During these moments it was like if the city stopped and all the chaos was turned off by the voice of the muezzin. The day ended in one of the beaches of South Beach, around a bonfire, listening to the stories of a guy from Amman met just a few hours before.


Out Of The Borders Travelling

The second and third days are the

most difficult to share, also through images. The time had come to reach the much-dreamed Petra. Still sleepy, on the road towards the bus station, a taxi approaches and asks us if my partner and I need help in any way. In half an hour Abid, this is his name, becomes our trusted man for the rest of our journey.

After almost two hours on the bus, we arrived

at Wadi Musa, literally “Valley of Moses.” It is the closest city to the archaeological site of Petra. Mohammed was waiting for us, a Bedouin guy, the one who would guide us inside the majestic Petra. Since our handshake and after we met and heard the stories of his closest friends, with a çay, some falafel and too much hummus, I realized

Manuela in Wadi Rum with the bedouin coat © Wali Benia



that Petra - it is the Bedouins. It’s useless to visit one of the Seven Wonders World of the modern age if they are not the ones guiding you through what has always been their home in the past centuries. That’s why I decided to take off my tourist’s clothes to fully experience the magic of Petra.

With a full stomach, we decided to start our journey to Petra. But before leaving home, Mohammed agreed to give me his camel coat three sizes bigger than mine. And the other Mohammed, whom I will call twin for simplicity, offered to put on me the kefiah in full ‘Bedouin’ style and the black kohl inside my eyes to protect them from the wind and avoid any infection. Well, only now I was ready to live Petra. During my long journey through Petra, which lasted about 10 hours, I saw hidden places known only “to the most”, and I felt lucky for this because these moments will remain in my best memories. I passed my day climbing rock to rock and seeing the most particular sides of Petra, standing on a camel, or riding a mule to avoid the 800 steps that lead to Al Dei (Monastery). Seeing Petra and hearing the stories of the Bedouins during the long journey inside it has been something truly magical: I couldn’t count how many miles I walked and how many çay I drank. When the sun went down, the sky turned pink, and the panora-

Out Of The Borders

ma from above left us speechless. The first evening ended with a barbecue in one of the Bedouin caves surrounded by homemade candles and good music.

The next day we dedicated our journey to Little

Petra, in part similar to the main archaeological site but a minimal version. It was unusual to not see inside massive affluence of tourists, but just some. The silence guided our small city tour inside of Little Petra, and our friend Mohammed didn’t forget to offer us a çay also on this occasion.

The time at our disposal was ending, and it was

not easy to greet those who had made us feel at home even if it was for less than 48 hours. Once we left Petra, our Bedouin friends and their hospitality, we were curious to see if we could find the same kind of welcome in the Wadi Rum desert. Our faithful taxi driver came to pick us up, and we spent our time in the car telling him about the beautiful days we had just passed and how much we felt protected and respected in the hands of the Bedouins.

Once we arrived at the entrance of Wadi Rum,

also called Valley of the Moon, we were greeted by two local Bedouins who drove us in their jeep on a 3-hour tour through sandy mountains with very different colours and deep canyons. The view from the back of the jeep made us understand why Thomas Edward Lawrence in his book Seven Pillars of Wisdom described Wadi Rum as “vast, echoing and similar to a deity”. The feeling of walking barefoot, lying on the sand and seeing the sunset beyond a dune was another confirmation that this journey would not have ceased to amaze me. For our last night, we spent the time in a camp inside of a tent and also there we


Out Of The Borders Travelling

El Khasneh al Faroun – The Treasure - Petra

© Bedouin guy

the taxi with two full shopping bags is just an example of their capacity to sell their products. The moment that will surely remain with me the most is when almost at the end of the time we had available, Abid parked the taxi at the edge of a road, looked at me and pointed out that from that exact point I could see four states at the same time: Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Israel and Jordan. We were so close to each of them that it seemed like we could reach any other neighbouring state, totally forgetting that we had a plane to take to go home a few hours later.

I left home sceptical, but after five intense days shared dinner with other locals and tourists from in a country that welcoming and made me feel different parts of Europe, and we were fascinatat home, I can only advise that at least once in a ed by how everyone perceived Jordan differently. lifetime it is worth visiting these magical places. The last day arrived, and at 10 o’clock Abid ar- I am taking the stories of the people who live in rived outside our camp, ready to take us to the Jordan as a treasure because they live day by airport. But before letting us go, he decided to day without forgetting the value of small things. give us a city tour in his taxi through the streets of Aqaba. It seemed so small the first day we arrived, but the more time we spent in that car, the more we realized that Aqaba also had something special. The locals are the answer. Taking a look at the suq to buy some çay, and coming back in

Mohammed inside of Little Petra


© Manuela Locci

“You came as a guest, you leave as a friend.” — Mohammed

Manuela, Wali and Abid in Aqaba

© Manuela Locci


Mix Fix

Collaging the Queer

Studying identity through art with LGBTQ+ refugees

by Sacha Bogaers

Three years ago, I found out that I was accepted for a master’s degree in Gender Studies.

It was a new step in my life. One of the new experiences that I had there, was that I became a volunteer at a local LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer) organisation in a project called Newcomers. There, I learned about community, friendships, and the power of art. Specifically, I learned about working with LGBTQ+ migrants and learning together with them through the medium of collage. I carried out several workshops about identity and community. Now, almost a year since I left Sweden, it seems like a good time to reflect on this process and the things I learned there.

The art of collage

As I said, I mainly worked with collages. I was

drawn to this medium for several reasons. Firstly, it is accessible and can easily be done without experience or training, even with people who don’t feel they are artistic or who do not feel confident about their abilities to make art. Collages, like other visual methods, can also easily bridge

One of the collages made by the participants © Sacha Bogaers, RFSL Newcomers

language barriers - participants can images and drawings, and even add words in different languages easily. Thirdly, I worked with collages as I was drawing on a series of previous workshops that were done at our organisation. This meant that some participants already had experience

A map of Sweden with words describing participants’ life ‘then’ and ‘now’ © Sacha Bogaers, RFSL Newcomers


Mix Fix Art

One of the collages made by the participants

© Sacha Bogaers, RFSL Newcomers

with this method, and that we had some exam- their home countries with some negative conples to show to those that didn’t. And finally, I cepts, such as crisis, no rights, hopelessness, just really like collages as a method and was but also with family and friends, and memories. very interested in exploring this further, as it is so easy to combine different things in one art piece. We often talk about migrants as people searching for a better life. This may be their intention, whether fleeing from war, other unsafe situaExploring movement/migration tions, or searching for a better economical sitI want to highlight two of the themes that I ex- uation, but the reality is often different. The miplored in my thesis work: migration and identity. grants I was working with in Sweden at least had For migration, we (me and the coordinator of the a roof over their heads, but they often felt ‘stuck’, group) worked with a map of Sweden. During a as the asylum process can take years, and in this workshop, we asked participants to write down time, it was hard to move forward with their lives, some keywords about their life in Sweden and as they had no certainty whether they could stay. their life before. After the workshop, we made In Greece, many more people are stuck, often a collage of all their individual papers. This col- without a place to stay, or staying in detainment lage highlighted the complexities of migration: camps. For LGBTQ refugees, this can be detrihow people feel that Sweden has brought them mental to their health and safety, as they can be things like freedom, safety and health, but at the in danger if their identity is found out. For this same time are missing their family and friends reason, the narrative is often more complex than and feeling lonely at times. How people identity one from oppression to freedom.



Mix Fix

Exploring identity

For many LGBTQ+ mi-

grants, identity is important, especially as it is often something they have not been One of the collages made by the participants © Sacha Bogaers, RFSL Newcomers able to be open about. If they were open, it often caused them harm, or sexuality. Of course, these often play a big and affected their safety or their relationships role for our position in society, but at the same with others. At the same time, part of the group time, we also are made by all those small things I was working with in Sweden also were able to - the things that interest us, the people we care be open now that they were in Sweden. Others about, things we create or consume... were not open about their identity outside of our organisation, but found a safe space in our All in all, the experience was great, and I am weekly meetings. It led to interesting results happy to have been part of this community and during the workshops. to carry out interesting workshops with this group. Doing art with vulnerable groups can not In one of the workshops, I asked participants only be helpful for them to express themselves, to make a collage about themselves and their it can also be used as an opportunity to make identity. I posed them the question: what makes their experiences more visible. Often, people you who you are? I gave them the freedom to prefer to talk about minorities, rather than lisexplore the topic in whatever way they want- ten to their own voices, and art can be a way ed, and this is exactly what participants did. to make their own narratives more clear. My orSome used a lot of rainbow imagery, such as ganisation hosted an exhibition with some of flags, signifying their being part of the LGBTQ the outcomes of the workshops at a local mucommunity. At the same time, participants also seum in Sweden. highlighted things that often may seem insignificant in the study of identity, such as their If you are interested in art and the LGBTQ+ comhobbies and interests. It made me reflect on munity, make sure to also check out the Thesthe emphasis we put on identity, and especial- saloniki Queer Arts Festival, that will take place ly on ‘larger’ categories such as gender, race, from the 7th to the 23rd of June.


Mix Fix Computer games

Farewell, my love

How a video game for your smartphone could be the best way to understand what a migrant’s journey looks like

by Francesco Cirica

As video games get more and more engaged with social and political issue, The Pixel Hunt’s work Bury me, my love puts the player in Migrants’ shoes, letting him discover what lies behind the journey towards hope in a unique and engaging way.

When Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street ven-

dor, killed himself to protest against the local government, nobody thought it was the beginning of a huge political turmoil for North Africa and the Middle East. However, what started as a demand for a more inclusive society, eventually turned into a nightmare, as it happened in Syria. Here the struggle between President Bashar al-Assad loyalist soldiers, rebels militias and ISIS troops turned out in 500.000 dead with more than half of the population displaced, forced to flee the country and to become refugees in other Middle Eastern countries (such as Lebanon or Jordan) or in Europe. While Russia, Iran, Turkey and Western Countries were pushing the balance of geopolitical power, backing one or another faction.

That’s where your journey begins. It’s the 30th

of September 2015: 4 years into the civil war. The city is Homs. While Russian war planes are crossing the sky, you witness the devastation they left behind. As you move across the ruins of what once was your city, your phone rings: it’s Nour, your wife. Both of you waited so long for this day. Both of you saved every last dime to have enough money to reach Europe and, once there, a new life. But only one of you will have this opportunity.

This is the setting of Bury Me, My Love a video

game developed by The Pixel Hunt and Figs, with


the financial support of ARTE, the European Television. The title comes from an arabic idiomatic expression, that can be translated as “Take Care” or “Don’t you dare to die before me”. Something you might say to a beloved one before parting ways. And, indeed, everything starts with a goodbye.

As Nour leaves Homs to make it to Germany

she leaves also Majd, her husband. Bury Me, My Love put you in Majd shoes trying to help her to reach her goal, with nothing more than your phone to do it. The game uses a Whatsapp-like chat to stay in touch with Nour, texting back to the woman in order to give her advices that can help her reaching to the final destination. The game’s designer Florent Maurin was inspired by Le Monde’s reportage Le voyage d’une migrante syrienne à traverse son fil Whatsapp by Lucie Soullier, that used instant messaging chats as a travel journal showing the hopes of two young migrants and the perils they endured on the road to Germany. The Pixel Hunt’s team used both Soullier’s advices and the first-hand experience of a migrant, Dana, in order to make the game as real as possible, editing the script when it didn’t fit reality: “I still remember this scene where Nour meets a smuggler - Maurin remembers - we had to tear it down and rebuild it up from scratch because Dana was positive it wasn’t scary enough!”

Computer games

From his previous journalist’s experience, Mau-

rin was aiming to create a proper “newsgame”: a videogame that uses mechanics from the real world in order to understand better how they work. There’s no such effective way to learn than a game. It requires to follow a set of rules, coping with trial and error to learn from mistakes and,

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finally, achieve a goal. That makes comprehension faster than traditional way of learning and - as Maurin states - it works even better when it comes to talk about real world. The non-linearity and interactivity of a game, allows creatives to underline casual connections showing complex phenomena in their whole extent.

Artwork for a refugee camp for the game. ©


Mix Fix Computer games

in the story, the game will make you wait for a whole real-life day and so on.

It is a powerful design choice that strongly con-

nects you, the player, to the story giving you the responsibility to shape it. Nour will ask for Majd’s advice and you will be asked as well to suggest her the best path. You can tell where to head, or whether to share her scarce resources with other people or not. She can follow your suggestion or decide to do otherwise. She can get mad at you or find herself in dangerous situations. She can also decide to hide crucial information to you. All of this contributes to increase the player anxiety and convey a sense of suspense throughout the whole game.

That’s the wonder about video games, asking the player to cover a new role without the risks of experience that in real life. In a game, the consequences of a bad choice are non-permanent, allowing you to learn without getting hurt. “What we learn in this way, sticks with us as real human beings” says Maurin in his blog, because it can A chat between Majd and Nour. © be lived in first person. It’s not the first time video games handle social and political themes, but Playing Majd’s role allows to look at migrations Bury Me, My Love is unique in the way it tackles from a privileged point of view. A smartphone one of the most present issues of our society. becomes a door to the other side of the story, reading the chats full of hope and fear as you Playing the game (even more playing it on your follow Nour’s path to a better life. It’s not like smartphone) let you live for a bit on the other having it on a newspaper, here everything feels side of the wall. For a couple of hours you will real because the game gives you the impression truly feel how is like to leave your country for an of talking with an actual person. Nour’s messag- obscure and unsafe journey. You cannot forees taste like real, they have the same hesitation seen what will happen to Nour or our your deand misspelling that could happen in everyday cision will shape her path. You can’t really know conversation. During the game you can also how far her road will take her. You can’t even have the opportunity to trade selfie, pics and know if she truly will make it out to Germany. emojis like an average WhatsApp chat. It creates However, for a brief moment, you can experience a strong emotional bond with the story that is the same uncertainty that migrants experience flowing under your eyes, that is made stronger during their journey, allowing you not only to by the fact the game can be experienced in re- know the facts behind it, but also to live it on a al-time. If Nour cannot answer for a whole day more emotional, and personal level.



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Easter from a Pagan celebration to a chocolate paradise

Strange traditions around Europe

by Laurie Sanchez and Jeanne Ducournau

Living with people from ten different country means ten different ways for the same cel-

ebration. And as we are in the Easter period, we decide to focus on this one. So we were first asking around us: how people celebrate Easter?

Indeed a tradition is already changing from a region to another inside the same country so imagine the differences from country to country. But before the differences, let’s start by the similarities. Where does the celebration itself come from?

life and nature. With Christianity, the eggs passed from the symbol of the rebirth of nature at the rebirth of Jesus, but the roots and the symbolistic are the same. As the people were not allowed to eat eggs during the holy week, they were an abundance of them, so it seems that the decoration of As a lot of us probably already know it is a Chris- them come from a mixture of these two events. tian celebration, in the memorial of the passion and resurrection of Jesus. Usually, the celebra- Then the decorated eggs became chocolate tion starts one week before with the holy week at eggs in the XIX century because of the industhe end of the “lent,� a period when Christian peo- trialisation progress, we were able to create ple are purifying their mind and body to prepare chocolate paste and do differents forms with it, themselves for the Easter celebration. But in our as eggs for easter or for other celebrations. And time the most significant part of the celebration this become famous and adored by the children is made during the Sunday of Easter. and the adults. With capitalism, chocolate eggs invade supermarkets with different kind of deHowever, the celebration origins are not only signs, colour, appearance and forms. from Christianity. When the Christianity religion extend in countries, most of them had already And as we discovered about Easter traditions pagan traditions. Therefore easter was mixed around the world, a lot of traditions have eggs with a pagan annual spring celebration and the in their celebration. But not only this. So we new imposed religion: Christianity. Indeed during prepared a list of the best Easter celebrations the paganism, the spring was celebrated as the around Europe. end of winter and the rebirth of the Earth.

Marks of those pagan tradition are still visible


The most beautiful eggs:

nowadays, for example, the egg of Easter. The Poland and Bulgaria. In the tradition, the womeggs were present at that period and in a lot of an put the eggs to boil early in the morning, and societies (Egyptians, Persians, Romans) consid- they paint them with these incredible patterns ered as the symbol of the new life, of the rebirth of during the holy week.


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Chocolate eggs from France


4 The most childish tradition:

Eggs from Poland


2 The most beautiful costume:

Bulgaria. In Bulgaria,

the boys and mainly the girl dressed the traditional Hungarian custom during Easter Sunday.

France and Netherlands. In France and Netherlands (but not only) the parents (or officially the chicken, rabbit and bells) are hiding the chocolate eggs in the backyard or the house and the children have to find it before eating it. Advice for this tradition: don’t forget if you are the adult were you hide them.

5 The most

theatrical tradition:


and Spain. As in football, the Italians are theatrical in their way to The funniest tradition: (depends of celebrate Easter. So they course on the point of view) are carrying a big cross their back during a paSlovakia and Hungary. Indeed, in Slovakia and inrade People carry the cross in the city. © Hungary, the culture for the day of Easter is to throw water on the girls that will then give them The most beautiful tradition: in exchange cake. They take it seriously because you can find on youtube Slovakian fireman using Greece. In our loved country the tradition is to go even the water of their truck! So girls be careful, to the church on Saturday night, with candles and don’t forget to bring extra clothes. hug the people around you during the ceremony. A lot of candles makes the streets full of light. Costume from Bulgaria ©



Drop water from Hungaria



Mass from Greece


Places in Thess

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The 6 best places to enjoy the summer in Thessaloniki

For a young people with low budget

by Justin Roche

Thessaloniki is enormous, so sometimes you have to get lost to find your place. But don’t

worry, we will share some knowledge with our readers. Great places for every taste, almost all in link with nature, quietness and of course - they are for free.

The Church of St. Paul near the park

© Balkan Hotspot

The hub, one of the old factory building © Fix in Art organisation

to see the fantastic view of the sea, go to the upper part of the park. Between the trees, you can Fix in Art : discover the ruins reminding Gaudí style with An old brewery factory in the west of the city re- mystical energy. For a picnic or for just taking a habilitated in an alternative art multi-space with nap, Pasha Garden is the perfect place! theatre, library and concert room. There, you Entrance from El. Zografou street or OXI Avenue cannot avoid getting inspiration for DIY: all the Address: How to go: Bus Nr. 24, stop Agios Dimitrios Hospital or by walk decoration is home-made, with reused materials and creativity. Chilling in this place is at the same Campus: time a journey in a different universe and relaxing the mind. They also organise many festivals, This place is not the first place to cross your jazz sessions, workshops and so on. mind, but it’s one of the biggest chilling areas Address: 26ης οκτωβριου 15 How to go: by walk or bus nr. 31 stop Φιξ

Pasha garden :

Near the old town Ano Poli, Pasha Garden is a

green oasis to cut the noise and the city rush. The park is divided into two parts so if you want

The area of the campus

© Creative Commons


Mix Fix Places in Thess

in the city. With 230,000 m², the campus offers a wide green space between the ten university houses. The big park near the circle building Μετεωροσκοπείο ΑΠΘ is one of the best places on the campus to meet some of the 70.000 students. But you can also take a walk around the campus and discover the area for you. Address: Between Veterinary School and Law University How to go: all the buses passing by Egnatia, stop Πανεπιστήμιο Μακεδονίας

Parks near white tower

The beach and the Peraia seaside

© Justin Roche

one afternoon, it’s a perfect choice. There you can walk along the seaside, take a sunbath on the beach and eat in the fish taverna. Not too far and it’s interesting to discover this part of the city. If you are motivated, continue to Riviera Virgin Beach to catch the better water and more beach life! How to go: All buses to IKEA, and after nr. 72/72E or the boat from Port The view on the sea

Creative Commons

The little alleys of Ano Poli

One of the most famous parks in the city. For Everyone knows the castle of Ano Poli of course, enjoying the sea and trees, you can chill in YMCA - Anthokomiki and Pedion area, three different parks around the seaside. In general, many people go to this place for the sunset, but during the day it’s also lovely. With a beer or just with friends, these places offer some greenery, freshness and shadow, which is essential during the summer.

Address: Near the white tower, YMCA garden and Pedion Areos park How to go: Take a walk from the seaside

Agia Triada and Peraia: the beaches of Thessaloniki

These beaches are the closest to the city cen-

tre. If you want to go out and see the sea for

but how about the small alleys between Rotonda and the castle? You need to discover this part; it’s calm, beautiful and with many surprises. These uphill streets with traditional colourful houses are good to see for a change of the big city vibe. When you are walking there, you can imagine that you are in a little ancient village.

Address: All the part between Rotonda and the castle How to go: bus nr. 23 or walking Typical alleys of Ano Poli © Justin Roche



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Sweet’n’sexy by Kim Ferreira


Mix Fix Poem

Miss you Mom by Ayub

On that night full of regrets and memories, I was thinking of going back home again, all I wish for is going back in time. It was a miserable night for me as I saw my mom in a long dream and it brought me back to my childhood.

A lot of requests for a capable mother in a long dream, as reality has let me down many times, living in my dreams has become a wish for me, but what I set as a motivation is the longer the dream. The more I think of what I lost as I make more goals from it to achieve what I want, so I raise your name in this world, as you are that person who I wanted to learn from, from the bottom of my heart, but death took you away from me. I dream of you every day, so how can I not put you as my biggest goal? I will live for your name, since you are the one who made me. I wouldn’t have existed without you so how can I forget you?

When i was young… I lived within safe walls But now it is my turn to build my own safe walls! I didn’t want this to happen But it did?



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I didn’t want life to hand me this responsibility, everything, and raise me But I’m receiving, as a child who cries for everything Now I see everything as it should be Life isn’t like we imagined Life isn’t all about giving you good times, or good friends, it can take everything away in a blink of an eye

We shouldn’t give up and fall After this pain there is strength After this fall a lot of new beginnings await you I feel that I am older now Old people don’t cry and knock on their mothers’ door in the middle of the night Old people aren’t scared of life, they should able to stand and show their strength to everyone I am older but I don’t want to be like that I am older but I am still scared of this thing we call life Of that ghost who hides under my bed I am older but I still cry without anyone seeing me I am older but I still want someone to read me a story before I go to sleep I am older now mom, that’s why I don’t knock on your door in the middle of the night How lucky are those who knock on their mother’s door every time they get scared... This fear taught me everything in my life, except a mother’s love and attention... Miss you mom…


Agnieszka Trygar | 26 years old

Arianna Salan | 28 years old

Staying in Greece for 10 months until August 2019

Staying in Greece for 10 months until July 2019

Favourite topics are culture, food and economics

Favourite topics are migrations, social justice and sustainability

Emma Lesburgueres | 22 years old

André Cruz | 25 years old

Staying in Greece for 6 months until August 2019

Staying in Greece for 10 months until October 2019

Favourite topics are culture, art and technology

Favourite topics are humankind development and artistic expressions

Irene Cortés del Moral | 22 years old

Marleen Müts | 23 years old

Staying in Greece for 10 months until July 2019

Staying in Greece for 10 months until July 2019

Favourite topics are travel, LGTBQI+, meet people’s stories, culture

Favourite topics are healthy lifestyle, sustainability and culture

Francesco Cirica | 28 years old

Martin Naništa | 28 years old

Staying in Greece for 10 months until November 2019

Favourite topics are sport, culture, cuisine

Favourite topics are Cinema, Art and Literature

Sacha Bogaers | 23 years old

Umberto Zeverini | 24 years old

Staying in Greece for 10 months, until June

Staying in Greece for 10 months until July 2019

Favorite topics are human rights, activism and art.

Favourite topics are culture, travel, art, sports

Wali Benia | 25 years old

Justin Roche | 21 years old

Staying in Greece for 6 months until April 2019

Staying in Greece for 6 months until August 2019

Favourite topics are culture (literature, cinema, music), sports and street culture

Favourite topics are underground culture, nature, communication

Dima Cojocaru | 22 years old

Emilie Simon | 20 years old

Staying in Greece for 10 months until august 2019

Staying in Greece for 2 months, until May

Favorite topics culture, statistics, contests

Favorite topics are music, fashion and minorities issues


Staying in Greece for 10 months until July 2019

Zoé Felmy-Regrigny | 21 years old Jeanne Ducournau

Manuela Locci

Laurie Sanchez

General Directors: Editors: Aristodimos Paraschou André Cruz Christian Cibba Marleen Müts Graphic Designer: Alexandros Tagaridis Find us:

Kim Ferreira

Staying in Greece for 2 months, until May

Favorite topics are ecology, culture and activism The volunteers responsible for this publication are hosted in Greece in the framework of the European ERASMUS+ Programme, European Voluntary Service. This project has been funded with support from the European Commision. This publication [communication] reflects the views of only of the author, and the Commision can not be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.