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BALKAN BEATS 3 FREE PRESS bimonthly magazine created by the volunteers of United Societies of Balkans General Director Aristodimos Paraschou

Authors of the Issue Ayse Burcu Atabey Anush Subedi Evgenia Dermitzaki Giorgio Buonsante Lisa Ambrosio Matteo Scarpa Michela Gennari Okan Atalay Philipa Nikolova Vasiliki Samara

Editors

Giorgio Buonsante Philipa Nikolova

Designer

Temmuz Onur Deniz Güzel

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 production (web radio, videos, documentaries).

Main goals of the organization:

-To promote the values of non formal learning, 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 stereotypes between Balkan countries.

United Societies of Balkans, Alamanas 9, Agios Pavlos, 55438, Thessaloniki (GR) (+30) 2310 215629 E-Mail: info@usbngo.gr / Radio: www.usb-onair.gr / Facebook: United Societies of Balkans / Twitter: @USBngo / Youtube: United Societies of Balkans NGO  1


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CULTURE

Wide word, eh? Given its vastity, in occasion of this issue, we pushed it to its most extreme borders: from East to West, from religion to superstition, from psonio to hippie... Enjoy!

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INTERVIEW WITH

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THE ART OF ARCHITECTURALLY MANAGING THE POSITIVE ENERGY

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MILLION HOLLERS KATERINI

KALOKAIRIAZEI! THELW PAGWTO

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INTERVIEW WITH

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MULTI-KULTI KITCHEN

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DEEP BANZAI IN

FENG SHUI

ANNA KELERMENOU

FACES 23

A GLANCE FROM AFAR

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OUZO MEETS ALFAJOR

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THE NON-FORMAL EUROPEAN

NEPALESE MEAL JAPANESE ANIME “If the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain”. In this case we could say that we met Himalayas, Mt. Athos visited Andes while someone else returned to Agri...

ANUSH SUBEDI SKY BLUE & WHITE VOLUNTARY SPIRIT 3


USB NEWS 31

WORDSMITHS IN BUD

A workshop in Thessaloniki, a seminar in Kalamata, a training in Italy and... a fake Greek in Romania. Welcome to the maze of USB!

CREATIVE WRITING

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2 & 1/2 GREEKS FACILITATING THEIR

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UN’ ESPERIENZA ALTERNATIVA

MIND THE G.A.P.S.

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PRE-DEPARTURE SEMINAR

IN KALAMATA

WAY TO ROMANIA

HIGHLIGHTS 43

EYES THAT ARE

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DISCOVER SOCIAL PLACES

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ABOUT THE PROTESTS

Crisis, banks, corruption...We heard these words uncountable times; but are people actually aware of what’s happening?

LIVING THE CRISIS THESSALONIKI v.1 IN BULGARIA

TIPS FOR TRIPS 51

Greeks usually say “There’s no place like Halkidiki”... Let’s call our mythbuster M.G. to find it out!

HALKIDIKI

THE THREE SOULS OF

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CULTURE


MILLION

HOLLERS A

band based in Thessaloniki sharing a crave for vintage sounds and an adversion for the “pop� complex, keen on slide rings and the blues liberation front.

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Can you please introduce yourself? Hello, I’m Labrini and I’m both the vocalist and one of the guitarists in Million Hollers. We are a blues-rock band from Thessaloniki. The other two members are Johnny, who also plays the guitar –and- Nikos, who is a drummer. We formed in August 2011. It all started when I told my idea of making a band to Nikos and we started meeting just for playing and jamming. We liked the results of the jam sessions; we decided to go on playing together. At that time, I started writing songs plus during one of the rehearsals Johny came to play. The tree of us really liked the sound so we decided to stick to this structure of the band- the two guitars and the drums. I liked the overall result even with the absence of the bass line. That was weird for some people but that was the formation of Million Hollers which is the same until today. What does the name Million Hollers mean? Hollers, actually field holler, were the names of the songs of the African American workers/slaves in USA in the beginning of the 20th century. And those were the artists who started the first songs of the whole blues culture. They were singing these songs while working in the field

and they were called hollers because they were the people who started the blues and all the styles coming form this kind of music. That’s why we thought we would put this in the name. But the name has double meaning : one Million hollers means something like a million songs. But today holler is also a word for yell or shout, so it means like a million yells. How do you write your songs, what inspires you? I write the lyrics and the main base for the music then I present it to the other members of the band and while playing and kind of improvising on what I wrote we make the final form of the song together. So I’m just writing the main part and together with the other we finish it. What do you talk about in your songs? More or less the things that everyone is talking about in these music styles -blues, rock- so everyday stories – relationships, people, things that everyone goes through, simple stories. Some of the songs of Million Hollers are available for free download on last.fm

Lisa Ambrosio 8


FENG SHUI THE ART OF ARCHITECTURALLY MANAGING THE POSITIVE ENERGY Lately, on newspapers, magazines or on TV we all hear about Feng-Shui. People are talking about how to decorate their homes, rooms even offices due to this philosophy’s set of rules in order to be more happier. That’s why many people think Feng-Shui is a trade of decoration. However in this article we will discover Feng-Shui and it’s 3000 years old philosophy.

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and negative energies. The meanings of colors is as it follows:

F

eng Shui is a Chinese system of geomancy. In the dictionary we can discover it’s formed by the words ‘’wind’’ and ‘’water’’. It’s an old Chinese philosophy that helps to use the energy that exists in the nature and to channel it and get benefits of it in your home, job place etc. Feng-Shui is not magic neither a religion nor decorating your home with furniture from Asia. Feng-Shui is a 3000 years old philosophy which managed to survive till today. It’s based on a couple of sistematic rules, which also scientists belief based on the concept that every single thing withinthe universe has an energy and coordinates the ‘’Chi’’; in other words the energy of life in Chinese. This philosophy’s aim is to bring us happiness, success and wealth. By using the objects that we already have in our houses and by choosing the right colors and shapes, FengShui attracts the positive energy in the place where we live much easily and, meanwhile, it blocks the negative energies. Chinese people call this theory ‘’Ying-Yang’’, balance of postive

RED is the color in Feng-Shui that is very powerful and deflects the negative energy. It’s the color of blood, life, power and love. The red color inside of us wakes up the joy, the desire of love. However the amount of red is very important as, when there is more than enough, it is believed that even can even cause illnesses like heartattacks and tension for the fire zodiac group. Those who can feel tired and low-mood can wear red to feel better. YELLOW is traditionally combined with gold and represents the sunlight. According to Feng-Shui, the softness of this color effects people in a positive way. It warms the people causing joy. That’s why this color is very suitable for designing houses. Yellow improves the power of comprehension. However, if yellow is intense then it symbolizes the lie, danger and gossip. It’s better to avoid wearing intense yellow as it can cause fear and anger. BLUE is the nature. For us it means sky, water, chill. It’s a relaxating color. It curbs the speed of metabolysm and causes sleep; however if you need energy, then blue is not the color you are looking for. That’s why in working places blue is not commonly used. Great amount of blue can even cause depression. It’s commonly suggested to be used for the pyschiatric clinics. GREEN in Feng-Shui is another relaxating color which brings renewal and arouse. In the nature green is the color of life: The plants are green when they are young and once they get old, they get yellow. So yellow is the color of maturity as the green is the color of youth. Green can be used in the rooms where students read and work. It blocks the intensity. After a hardworking day, green is the suitable color to relax: Just remember how you feel when you go to a forest or a park after long hours of working. PURPLE is the color of meditation. It symbolizes thoughts and brain- storms. It enpowers our skeptical activities but also it opens the chakras. However it’s not suggested to use it a lot. WHITE is the color of purity. It

symbolizes the cleanliness , brightness, purification from the evil. In China it’s suggested to be used in small amounts as white is a very strong color. Some people even say using too much white can cause deaths. BLACK is the color which reduces the energy in Ying Yang it symbolizes Ying. It deepens the melancholia and suprises comprehension. However, with silver colors it’s good to be used. It empowers the immune system. In Feng-Shui, both colors themselves and how to use them properly are very important. Energyes must be almost at balance. In ancient China most people used to decorate their gardens and houses due to Feng-Shui hoping for a better life and better conditions. We still don’t know if Feng-Shui works properly by giving birth to actual results. In a newspaper’s article I found a story of a 50 years old police officer in Australia. This man believed that bad luck was always after him throughout his whole life. Once after receiving his earnings at his job place he also lost it somehow! Then he read something about Feng-Shui in a newspaper and decided to try it in order to heal his bad luck. He sticked 2 australian dollars on his doorway and the following week he won the lottery ‘’ Toy Boys’ ‘lottery. Now he is the owner of a house that is worth 1.2 milion dollars. According to Feng-Shui, the buildings look like humans. The outdoors are the mouths, the windows are the eyes. The rooms are like human organisms, the parts of human body. At this point, we must be careful with the things we don’t use anymore. Most of them block the entrance of positive energy in our place just like tumors in our body being cause of various of illnesses. When we enter in some places or some houses, we can feel the negative energies, we don’t like the place and we want to get out of there as soon as possible. In some other cases as we step in; we feel safe, good and nice. We mustn’t forget that life is very generous to the people but more generous to those who know how to get benefits from it! Okan Atalay

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summer ın KATERINI

K

aterini [ Κατερίνη or Αικατερίνη ] is a town of Pieria, region in Central Macedonia. It’s location lies between the mount Olympos and Thermaiko Kolpo plus it’s 68 km away from the city Thessaloniki. In the last years, the development of Katerini is on a very high rate thanks to a lot of foreign visitors from all over the world but also because it’s very close to Thessaloniki which makes trades easier. In this article, we will inspect history, economy and natural resources of Katerini. Till the beginnings of 20th century in the papers the name was named Aikaterini or Agia Aikaterini but at the end it became Katerini. Katerini was probably settled during the Ottoman Empire. During this time the name ‘’Katerini’’ remained as it was but at the end of the 18th century, Felix Beaujour visited the city and mentioned about the name as ‘’Katheri’’ from the ancient name ‘’Atera’’ or ‘’Atira’’. At the end of the 18th century Katerini had almost 4.000-5.000 settlers. Another theory for Katerini is that the name of the Katerini comes from the Church of Agia Aikaterini which is now around the old graveyard. Pieria got its independence from Ottoman Empire during the Balkan Wars in 1912. Around 1950 Katerini became the capital of Pieria’s region. By this way the development of Katerini has started in a very swift way. In 1961, the urbanism rate of Katerini was the fourth of Macedonia region after Thessaloniki, Kavala and Serres. In Greece it had the 12th place. Many settlers were from Thraki region and specifically from Artesko. The rise of the population gave another shape to the city. Tobacco was the main source of trades.

Tourism in Katerini is becoming a very common phenomenon. In the region Pierias, not very far away from Katerini there is the Olympos mountain that once was the throne of Zeus and the home of Pantheon.It’s a very important part of today’s tourism in Pieria as many people are going to see the ancient times. Olympos is the highest mountain of the region. Around Olympos we can find various hotels and rooms for rent with a lot of local food and different tastes at traditional tavernas. In this region there are various activities that one can do such as sea sports, climbing, walking, running, biking, shopping and beside there is a hospital for emergency cases.It’s 8 kilometers far from the city Katerini. Except from this, in Pieria, in the last years many traditional old style houses were built and this is one of the main attraction spots for tourists. Every year, Katerini itself attracts more than one thousand tourists. Katerini has a huge beach where you can find various café-bars which show the modern face of the city. For those who are interested in archeological sites, in the east side of Katerini almost 10 km farthere is the ‘’Garden of Zeus’’. In the south side of the Katerini instead there is also a very nice and interesting historical castle. It’s very easy and safe to go to Katerini. There are buses From Athens three times per day going from Athens to Katerini. The journey lasts about five hoursand the ticket price is around 30 Euroa. The travel from Thessaloniki is much easier and faster. Almost every half and hour there is a bus going to Katerini. The price is around 7 Euros. In 30 minutes you will notice Olympos mountain from your window and from there is about 10-15 minutes to Katerini. Okan Atalay 11


“If you don’ t know where you’ re going, any road will get you there.” Lewis Carroll

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ANNA KELERMENOU

“Art is the meeting point of heart and mind, life and intellect ”

H

ey, Anna could you please introduce yourself and your artwork to our readers? What inspires you? What techniques do you use? Hello Filipa! I grew up in the town of Katerini and I was really captivated by drawing since an early age. Later on, I followed painting studies at the Faculty of Fine and Applied Arts of A.U.TH. under the direction of professor mr. Ioannis Fokas. I graduated in 2012. For me, inspiration can spurt in the most unlikely places! I really love observing little things, those that go unnoticed, but yet carry a lot of meaning if you look deep down inside of them. Life experiences of course play a huge role in the thematic of artworks. Besides that, as an Otaku, I do appreciate Japanese aesthetics -either coming from the traditional background of stroke flow and dynamics, intense contrasts, minimalism and a play between visual

information and space or from more contemporary influences, mainly as those are depicted in figurative art. Do you think the artist can or should be put in a frame? For example I know you are making installations, portraits, comics, digital art. Is there a genre that you prefer? Experimenting in various fields of art can really help an artist discover ways which can promote an idea and its’ means of expression on new levels rather than persistently sticking to a certain kind of medium because of our familiarity with it. As a plus, exploring the “creative” map can make pop up a very edifying challenge of self discovery and development of new artistic capacities and skills. On the other hand some people prefer focusing on just one medium and they get really good at it. That’s also great but I do believe that in order to explore your capacities you really have to think outside the box. Sometimes, it may take a little bit of courage travelling out of a familiar “surface” but, if you take a little time to get your “pack” ready and study the map “ you will come back with the discovery of a precious piece of treasure! As far as art genres are concerned, dealing with different ones really helps 13

you understand and appreciate each one better. But, if there was something I couldn’t live without, that would be the miracle of “breathing in” a human face. Hearts and souls are painted on the living canvas of our faces. When I draw a portrait I’d say it feels like I’m diving in the person posing. And coming back up feels like I’m holding a little rare pearl which becomes part of my precious “heart” belongings. The installation with the cross really impressed me; can you tell me more about its conception? In chapter 11 and verse 36 of the Holy Bible, apostle Paul wrote to the Romans: “For him, from Him, through Him and to Him are all things. [For all things originate with Him and come from Him; all things live through Him, and all things center in and tend to consummate and to end in Him.] To Him be glory forever! Amen (so be it).” This knowledge took life inside of me the moment I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior and experienced the gift of salvation and the love of God, the way it traced back to my childhood. So, this installation aimed to function as an experiential bridge between my personal experience and the viewer. It connects with His words ““I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. “John 14:6


“Understanding is knowledge coming from conscious experience.”

What is art for you? Do you think concepts are important? Especially when we speak about contemporary art, who is the one to define what art is and is not? On the other hand, with the postmodern motto ”Anything goes”, aren’t we in danger to get completely lost?

said or that hasn’t already come to be. All art reflects something that already exists. Nothing can come from nothing. Something can come from something. If people learn to look at an artwork -at least initially- the way they look at a sunset, they would see that the values of the one are reflected in the other simply because they are based on the same universal foundations. Color, speed, heat and cold, movement, power, weakness, gravity, smoothness or sharpness, explosion, etc. ) In the long run, it is not about who defines art but who is connected with her/his artistic self and able to notice it, recognize it, understand it and acknowledge it. I believe all people have a piece of “art” inside them, we are an artwork per se and we live in a “big artwork” made by the Artist of Artists. So, sometimes, we need someone who has already made that connections with the “art part”- within and can help us discover and awaken or activate ours also. Those people are able to help others to do the same but no one can really teach someone about something unless he or she has first understood it himself or herself. Understanding is knowledge coming from conscious experience. A concept is vital as long as it does not stand as an end in itself. In the race of contemporary art, I notice a lot of artists lusting after impression rather than economy of the artwork. In other words impression should follow expression and not the other way around. An artwork is not useful when it’s vainglorious. For example true statements are frequently so short and austere that makes you remember them a lifetime. So, in the end, I believe art is all about expressing something that is close to one’s heart in a concrete and skillful manner, cut and knit on the figure of the expressive purpose.

Art is the meeting point of heart and mind, life and intellect. Coming to who or what defines art, well, I think that art is defined by itself because it carries a fragment of the infallibility of the fundamental aesthetic values imprinted in the Creation. For example, a sunset is a sunset, a day is a day and a night is a night. It is what they are, but not all people observe the sunset. Not all of them reflect on what they see. Or understand why they make them feel the way they do. There are people educated in art and people who had nothing to do with it, yet both groups recognize art when they see it. People a lot of times start by trying to understand art. It’s not always about understanding though, because for example there are things like the infinity of space which we cannot fathom. It’s elusive and unable to be contained in our human minds. Art is not subjective. Yet, to understand it, first you have to be willing to open up to it and get to know it better. It’s like when you meet with a person with whom you’d like to be friends with. It may take its’ time but true friendship is a treasure! And so can be Art. I see Art as something kind of perceivable by the senses combination, whose structure parts are unable to function separately. Each gives the other its’ meaning in a dialogue formed by sounds and signals which creates a chain of “big bangs” charged with energy load able to formulate micro universes within us. What I mean is, if an artwork is art, then no matter what anyone says, it’s still going to be what it is because it simply endorses -already set- aesthetic principles as those are found in the natural environment and the psyche environment. There is nothing that hasn’t already been 14


You also work with digital art, don’t you? What is your opinion about new media in general? Is it just a change in the tools, or is there something lost in the process? Was Walter Benjamin right predicting that the aura of the artwork will be lost? Let’s say, is it the same to see Mona Lisa in the Louvre and in Google pictures, and if the image is computer generated, does it make sense to print it and put it in gallery? Yes, I work with digital art mainly for concept and illustration purposes but I also use it as a vessel to transfer visual ideas into traditional mediums. “New is welcome” and “media” is

useful for the facilitation of information. I wouldn’t say that it’s a change in the tools but rather an expansion of those that already exist. Then I think that what Walter Benjamin said about the loss in the process is answered in your question about Mona Lisa in the Louvre and Google and a CG image in a gallery. Personally, I’ve never seen a traditional piece of art made justice through a photo or the internet. Nothing can replace the intimacy of direct contact and the weight of reception derived when coming face to face with the artwork. I’d say that the same applies for CG art. When you see it in its natural environment (a PC screen for example) it feels 15

fine. But when I see it as a poster, subconsciously my mind links it to the digital environment. It’s like having a 2D guest in a 3D reality. So I think that each form of art dynamics, is better presented when showcased in its’ native environment of creation. I do believe though that, because digital drawing/painting programs are based on calculations and what they do is actually create a simulation of the real creative process, lack the accuracy and responsiveness of traditional direct creation. I guess you can feel differences when you know that something is simply real. Like is different flying an airplane in a simulation and really flying an airplane. Everything feels different


made to provide imitation. You may express concepts, but-due to the above there’s going to be a lack in the level of “feeling” applied in the artwork. Maybe, in the future, CG art programs will advance to the level of imitating the way aquarelle colors interact with handmade Indian paper. But still, imitation is imitation and the real thing is the real thing. Think of it as a person you have heard about. You don’t know him until you meet him “in person”. Face to face. But that can only occur in the same environment or dimension. Do you have a favorite artist? My favourite artist is Vassily Kandinsky because he realized and pursued about the common bond behind externally different creative processes (like the spiritual in art). He was the interdisciplinary artist of the 20th century. He was able to look at things in a different way. Around and around without being stuck on the same stagnant spot. He knew it was a puzzle consisting of pieces. And he connected a lot of them in the portrait of Art’s development.

because you are directly connected with the process. CG art is very good for transferring an impression or a concept. But, for me, it lacks of transferring “life” or “soul”. Because algorithms and pixels cannot interpret that or simulate it. It’s an imitation of what it would look and not how it would “be. When you “press” paint against the canvas, all consisting parts interact: starting from the artist’s inner and outer physique to the consistency of the paint and to the absorption levels of the canvas. But not all is calculated thus the results are subject to ductility. In CG art, you are necessarily moving in a field of calculations, which are specific and absolute, and which are

I wanted to avoid that question but I’m curious to know what is your opinion about the relation between the crisis and the art. Some of the best pieces of art were made in the periods of depression, there is the idea crisis stimulates creativity, but -at the same time- if people are worried about their job, etc., do they have enough time to think about art? It’s true that cornered situations can produce great results because people are going to look for a way of release. Of course if economy is abundant, it can help the realization of great artistic experiments but even then, who says that people would be deeply interested in it? For example, during the time the economy of Greece was in a better state, I don’t think that people were really interested in coming in contact with art because coming in contact with art means coming in contact with yourself. And that’s not always very pleasant or

“Coming in contact with art means coming in contact with yourself. ” convenient. It involves reflection, introspection and realization. True art is sincere in what it is and it also requires sincerity of approach in order to communicate with it. Truth sometimes hurts but it has the power to set us free by allowing us to see what really is in front of us. Truth facilitates the way to a conscious experience thus to understanding thus to knowledge. And knowledge is an all- present power able to ignite change when applied. Art is a life - style and it starts from recognizing art in the daily small things. In the delicacy of movements, in the face of people, in ideas and ideals. Art starts by realizing its’ omnipresence. Art can be a present state of heart and mind, wherever it may be and whatever circumstances it may face. In very few words though, I really doubt that anyone can appreciate art unless they are able to appreciate a dandelion floating in the wind while lightly dodging the raindrops of an early autumn shower. So there’s no point building “gigantic” art when no one’s going to appreciate it simply because they are unable to relate to it. That would be no good to anyone, both the artist and the viewer. Then I believe there’s solid proof that we have overcome the trap of vanity and passed into the “next level” which is also a sustainable level. A level defined by vivid hope and longing, for a more colorful present and a brighter future. Thank you so much for the interview! Thank you very much as well! Philipa Nikolova

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DAL BHAAT & TARKARI

A

nush has been in Thessaloniki for one month and he is going back to his homeland. Before this he shared some traditional Nepali recipes for our readers. I tasted all of them and I strongly recommend you to prepare them.

INGREDIENTS DAL BHAAT Plain Rice 2 cups of rice (Basmati or Long grain preferred) 4 cups (1 lt) of water 1 tsp of butter (optional) Lentils 1½ cups of lentils (any kind) 4 to 5 cups of water (depends on preference of consistency of liquid) ½ tsp of turmeric 1 tsp of minced garlic 6 tbsp of clarified butter (ghee) 3/4 cup sliced onion 2 chillies Salt to taste

TARKARI Vegetables: 1 cup chopped cabbage 1 cup of green beans 1 cup of chopped cauliflower ½ cup of green peas 2 medium potatoes (boiled and diced into ½ inch cubes) 2 medium onions (thinly sliced) 3 tablespoon of oil 1 green chilli (chopped) 1 teaspoon cumin powder 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger (finely chopped) ½ teaspoon of garlic paste  salt to taste Garnish: the juice of half lemon  2 tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped 17


TRADITIONAL NEPALESE MEAL BY ANUSH Dal (lentils), Bhaat (boiled rice), Tarkari (mixed vegetable with curry) are everyday dishes eaten twice per day as lunch and dinner. Dal Bhaat is the most common and classical Nepalese recipe. It is a stable daily diet of the majority of the population and Tarkari (mixed vegetable with curry) - quick, easy and healthy recipe.

Preparation for Dal Bhaat: Rice: Wash the rice and soak it for 5 min. Boil it for about 10-15 min. Add butter to make the rice tastier, soft and fluffy. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 5 more minutes until it’s done. Lentils: Wash the lentils and soak them for 10 minutes Remove anything that floats on the surface and drain extra water Add drained lentils in fresh water and boil them again. Add all the spices. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 20/30 minutes until the lentils are soft and the consistency is similar to porridge’s one. In a small pan heat the remaining butter, onions, chili and garlic. Stir into the lentils for a few minutes before you stop boiling. Serve with rice. Preparation for Tarkari: Heat the oil and fry the onion till they get golden brown. Add all the spices. Cook and stir for a minute or so. Add vegetables and cook them until they are fully cooked. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Garnish with cilantro and serve. Philipa Nikolova 18


“It’ s different.” Anime is as unlike most West cartoons as, let’ s say, Batman and SpiderMan are different from the comics that run in daily papers. The differences show up in many ways.

S

o what is anime, exactly? The word anime, pronounced “ah-kneemay”, is an abbreviation of the word animation. In Japan, the word’s used to refer to all animation. Outside of Japan, it’s become the catch-all term for animation from Japan. For decades, anime was produced by and for Japan - a local product, with a distinct look-and-feel focused not only on the artwork but on storytelling , themes and concepts. Over the last forty years, though, it’s become an international phenomenon, attracting millions of fans and being translated into many languages: a whole generation of viewers in the West have grown up with it.

DEEP BANZAI IN JAPANESE ANIME The origins of Anime Anime dates back to the birth of Japan’s own film industry in the early 1900s, and has emerged as one of Japan’s major cultural forces over the past century. Much of the work done in these early years was not the cel animation technique that would come to be the dominant production technique, but a host of other methods: chalkboard drawings, painting directly on the film, paper cut-outs and so on. One by one, many of the technologies used today were added to Japanese animated production: sound (and eventually color), the multiplane camera system and cel animation; but, due to the rise of Japanese nationalism and the start of WWII, most of the animated productions created from the 1930s on were not popular entertainments, but instead were either commerciallyoriented or government propaganda of one type or another. What is it that makes anime so special? Most anime fans can sum this up in two words: “It’s different.” Anime is as unlike most West cartoons as, let’s say, Batman and Spider-Man are different from the comics that run in daily papers. The differences show up in many ways. 19

Artwork Anime art styles range goes from the flamboyant and outlandish to the simple and direct. That said, even shows with more “basic” artwork can still be visually striking; sometimes everything can look fresh and new. Storytelling Anime doesn’t shy away from epic storylines, which can run for dozens, sometimes hundreds of episodes (InuYasha, One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, etc...). The best anime, though, no matter what their length, all demand great emotional involvement from the viewer. Breadth of material The sheer range of anime shows out there means that a viewer of most any other kind of TV or movies can find an anime series that reflects his or her interests: hard SF (Planetes), romantic comedy (Fruits Basket), CSI-style crimefighting (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), female empowerment (Nana), even adaptations of classic literature (Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo).


Cultural nuances Japan’s history, language and worldview are woven into a great deal of anime on many levels. Some shows are takeoffs on Japanese history (Sengoku Basara) or raid Japanese mythology for story ideas (Hakkenden). Even shows that are outwardly non-Japanese in their presentation (Claymore, Monster) have tinges of a Japanese sensibility to them. What’s most striking is how anime’s impact is coming full circle. Some recent Western cartoon productions, like “Avatar: The Last Airbender” are openly inspired by anime itself, and live-action European languages versions of anime titles are starting to come into production.

Anime’ s so broad reaching in its subject matter, it’ s possible to find anime aimed at just about every age group. Is anime a genre? Because of a certain tred, anime tends to be lumped together, it’s tempting to think of anime as a genre. It isn’t - no more than animation itself is a genre, but rather a description of how the material is produced.

Anime shows, like books or movies, fall into any number of existing genres: comedy, drama, sci-fi, action, adventure, horror, and so on.

Is anime good for every kind of audience? The answer is short: It should be. Because anime’s so broad reaching in its subject matter, it’s possible to find anime aimed at just about every age group. Some titles are specifically for younger viewers or are suitable for all ages (Pokémon, My Neighbor Totoro); some are aimed at teens and up (InuYasha); some are aimed at

older teens (Death Note); some are for “mature audiences” (Monster) and some are strictly for adults (Queens Blade). Japanese cultural attitudes about sexuality and violence require some titles to be placed in a different category than they might normally be. Nudity, for instance, is handled much more casually in Japan; sometimes a show that isn’t meant specifically for adults will have material which may seem racy to Western viewers. Anime distributors are generally quite conscious of these issues, and will include either an actual MPAA rating (G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17) or a TV Parental Guidelines rating as an indicator of what the intended audience is for the show. I don’t know anything about anime - how do I get started watching? The simplest way to do this is to go by what you already like, apart from anime. There’s a few ways you can go about accomplish this. Learn about what shows represent the major genres within anime, and pick the genres you already enjoy watching: a sci-fi / cyberpunk fan will choose Cowboy Bebop ; a swordsand-sorcery fan, Berserk and so on. If you already know a friend who’s an anime fan, clue them in on what you like to watch - they should be able to guide you towards what’s best and what’s new in that category. Giorgio Buonsante

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A GLANCE FROM AFAR On July we received a new inspiration in the office. Anush came from Nepal to share his ideas, to enlighten us with the spirit of the Nepali culture and to bring positive energy. “If each person has pure thoughts and if each person transforms herself or himself, then there will definitely be positive change in the world”: this is the advice that I learned from him, let’s see how he feels about his experience here.

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It was the 12th of May when I understood I have been selected to take part in the International Voluntary Programme in Greece. There were many different feelings inside me. I was worried but at the same time very excited.

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i Anush, can you introduce yourself? Geia sas, Philipa, this is Anush Subedi, a youngster from Nepal, the country of Himalayas. I’m currently pursuing my Social Studies education in University. I’m a social worker and an advocator of a youth information center in Nepal; my team and I are passionate, ambitious and curious young people. Lately I’m very interested in collecting rear facts about a animals and species across Nepal. You are here in USB through the program “Seed of Change”. Can you tell us more about it? “Seed of change” is an international project running in six countries including Nepal and Greece. The aim of the project is to give more opportunities and access to social rights to young people with disadvantages or coming from rural areas. Why did you decide to make this step and come here; before coming, what did you expect? It was the 12th of May when I understood I have been selected to take part in the International Voluntary Programme in Greece. There were many different feelings inside me. I was worried but at the same time very excited. As a student of Sociology, I thought that volunteering for an NGO in Greece would enhance my knowledge and allow me to explore new things. Before coming here I was looking forward to learn about the social problems of the Greek citizens and also the way they are fighting for their rights. I was interested in the situation of human rights in Greece. I wanted to obtain more knowledge through this experience in order to use it once back in Nepal. How do you find Greece? Is it very different from Nepal? What impressed you the most? Do you think one month is enough to get to know a different culture?

It was 2004, during the Olympic Games when I came to know that there is a beautiful country in this world from where the human civilization began. It has always been my desire to discover its history, monuments and museums. Greece is an amazing country. I can’t even find words to describe it. Thessaloniki for me is a city of beauty - museums, monasteries, churches, castles, rich history and great hospitality! I have the impression that the Greeks are very religious, similar to the Nepalese people in this sense. The architecture, the way of dressing, the customs, the everyday life, transportation, facilities instead are very different from Nepal. What really impressed me is that, despite the painful crisis, people are still full of joy and always smiling. As an active young person you are taking part in many initiatives; can you tell us more about the project of the Nepalese artist who wants to convert the city into butterflies? Milan Rai is a visual artist from Nepal. His concept of the white butterfly is amazing. When he was travelling on his motorbike, he got stuck in front of a traffic light. Suddenly, a butterfly came and sit on his back side glass, after that the butterfly landed on his paintbrush. This coincidence happened many times. One day he realized that the butterfly was sending him messages – the message of change and transformation. The butterflies he creates have a hidden message. The plain white color of the butterflies means purity and it also symbolizes a blank slate, where anything can be written. It is also a symbol of unity as the color white is produced when all colors combine. The message is pretty clear- it’s about how all people should unite and end disparities. If each person has pure thoughts and if each person transforms herself or himself, then there will definitely be positive change in our country. Now I’m taking part of this project spreading the butterflies together with the message they bring in Thessaloniki. Philipa Nikolova

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CELESTE Y BLANCO. SKYBLUE AND WHITE. Carta d’ Imbarco-Boarding Pass SAMARA-VASILIKIMRS DA-FROM: ROME-FCO A-TO: THESSALONIKISKG DATA-DATE: 19AUG

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rying not to lose my rectangular green boarding pass, I was wandering for 3 hours through the spacious areas of Rome FiumicinoAirport. “International arrivals” signs indicated that passengers had to pass through a customs queue which at first sight looked endless. However, at that moment, I praised my country’s decision to be a member of the EU, as I finished with integration sooner than I had originally planned. But hold on a minute… what is a 17 years-old girldressed in a thick coat with a woolen scarf wrapped around her neck and her rucksack ready to explode, doing on a shiny 38-degrees day? Everything started on an ordinary school date. Being typically 5 minutes late, I was waiting for my turn to the principal’s office to ask for a

SKY BLUE & WHITE permission to enter the class. The announcement board next to the principal’s office is not active at all so seeing a new, fresh announcement really caught my eye. Before the day was over, I had already sent my application for the Seed of Change project, a global project focused on social discrimination and the target groups of this phenomenon in the society. The Greek team consisted of twenty students aged 16-21, from different social backgrounds. We had several meetings during the first six months of 2013 in which we discussed about social rights, we did activities and we shot a short documentary. Moreover, it was really interesting to know that young people of our age had the same workshops in six more countries over four continents! One part of the Seed of Change programme consisted in calling one volunteer from each country was called to do an one-month voluntary service in a different participantcountry of the project. Even now, five months later, I find it hard to describe the feelings I had when it was announced that I would be the one going to Argentina! I was definitely 25

excited and anxiously looking forward to July! My home city for one month was Mendoza, a one million inhabitants city next to the imposing Andes mountains range and the boarders of the country with Chile. After my research, the most striking feature I found out about Mendoza is that this provincial city is one of the seven global wine capitals. As a result, trying a bit of its wine was immediately added to my “to-do” list, even though I don’t consider myself an alcohol fan. I can honestly say that I had no clear ideas about what to expect; I was excited without doubts or fears, I was only sure that I would live a winter climate twice within the same year. One part of this interchange was for me to participate in all the activities that the associated NGO in Argentina would have planned during the month of my visit so meeting the Argentinean Seed of Change members, exchanging our experiences about the project, etc. This clearly meant that for one month I had the opportunity to be an OAJNU member and work for the OAJNU organisation. OAJNU (Organización Argentina de Jóvenes para las Naciones Uncidas) is an


organization that promotes the citizen participation of the Argentinean youth and has offices in seven cities all over the country. During the month of my voluntaryservice Mendoza team was busy preparing a UN model for students aged 13-15, so I was more than willing to help them with the preparation of the event. For this purpose, we visited several primary schools in order to have a discussion with the students about the model and to encourage them to participate or just to discuss and to solve their doubts about the topics and the form of the model. This activity was probably the most fascinating one, as it was really interesting to go to different schools, each one with students of a different background and to communicate with the children. I think this really helped me to take a glimpse of the real Argentinean daily life and to compare it with the Greek one. Even though my principal OAJNU activities were dedicated to the preparations for the model, I also attended an OAJNU members meeting where I was introduced to all the volunteers from Mendoza and took part in several presentations about the organization’s issues. Also, along with some fellow OAJNU members, we were invited to go to a radio station to talk about the organization and the Seed of Change project that brought me to Argentina; it was a really fun experience! Nevertheless, apart from my OAJNU schedule, I had some spare time to visit Mendoza and to get a taste of the Argentinean lifestyle. Wandering alone through the calles and the avenidas of the city, I caught myself many times stopping to buy an alfajor (a type of cookie) from the nearest kiosk. I had warm chocolatada in the view of the snowy Alpes, I drank mate (the Argentinean tea) in the park of San Martin, I ate asado (a local technique to grill meat) in a family Sunday lunch, I tried lomo sandwich in the city’s most famous lomo restaurant, and I discovered Mendoza’s downtown by visiting the city’s five main squares:

During my month in Argentina, I gained much more things than I could imagine; I felt that I was Argentinean for one month. San Martin, España, Chile, Italia and Independencia. In addition, I visited two of the city’s universities, or rather Universidad de Cuyo and Aconcagua University plus I saw a play about the country’s national hero, Jose de San Martin at the central theatre. Moreover, I learnt to play a card game, truco, as well as a boarding game called TEG, even though I can’t say I learnt to play well enough to win in any of these games. Last but not least, I watched two films at the cinema, including an animation film of an Argentinean production and I was also part of the audience at one of the preliminary rounds at the local improvisation league. During my month in Argentina, I gained much more things than I could imagine; I felt that I was Argentinean for one month. I had so many interesting discussions with people of different ages and social backgrounds, which really introduced me new viewpoints on several issues. I lived the real Argentina behind the bright lights of a telenovela, and I 26

saw the real problems the society has. Coming from a country that is currently supposed to be struggling to cope with a financial and social unrest, I had the chance to make my comparisons and to realize that crisis can mean much more than just being unable to refresh the summer wardrobe for two years. However, despite their difficulties, I only met lively and truly hospitable people who never lose their strength and their smile. I never felt discriminated and everyone welcomed me warmly, making me feel like home since the very first moment. Thanks to Alejandro Baca, Seed of Change coordinator in Mendoza who was in charge of me during this month, to his family who treated me as an equal member, to Gustavo del Negro, the Human Resources responsible, the Rodriguez and the Arguello family, as well as to the rest of all the volunteers and the people I met, my experiences at Mendoza will be unforgettable. Thank you for the memories, Argentina. I promise we will meet again soon. Vasiliki Samara


The non-formal European Voluntary“Spirit”

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here is a Turkish satirical book which makes great fun of all the ideologies that were popular during the collapse of the Ottoman empire and the first years of the Turkish Republic, one of its 12 parts tells the story of a crazy man who is entering a school and trying to brainwash the headmaster to establish an open-air school in an isolated island where the students will be educated through learning by action, or rather, the principle of non-formal education. Well, this writer is such an exaggerating genius who can make you believe this kind of education is nonsense and really sucks. Nevertheless, my experience of European Voluntary Service was a practical proof that this works extremely well! First of all, referred to all the ones who have no idea what European Voluntary Service (EVS) is, EVS is not eatable, not touchable, but it is something, an opportunity given to the European youth (and not only) by the European Union that allows us to stay in any European country (and not only), in any of the social fields for a short or long time without paying any money. The voluntary fields range from media and youth information to health and environment; furthermore all your needs like plane tickets,

house, electricity, food, cigarette papers are arranged & paid by the two (of three) actors of the whole thing: sending organisation, hosting organisation (and maybe coordinating organisation). You just find a sending organisation and choose project that you want to work for. All of this is happening within the Youth in Action program of the European Council. So simple... You’ll say a big “HI!” to the hosting country and the answer will be a big “WELCOME!”. For a couple of months EVS will be like a holiday for you; but when you find your place in the project and adapt to the new environment, you’ll start developing yourself & upgrading in a fast pace in many aspects without even noticing. Oh God! You’ll be surrounded by millions of people speaking other languages! Believe me you’ll adapt and love these people! You’ll make new friends from many countries; you’ll learn new cultures and languages, and a new style of having dinner! Living with others will be inevitable to discover your own characteristics and develop new ones like tolerance, acceptance and sharing. The feeling of independence will help you understand your realidentity; and, if you are living the beginning of your adult life and for the boys, if you haven’t done your military service yet, trying to survive without your mum will make you stronger! 27

You’ ll say a big “HI!” to the hosting country and the answer will be a big “WELCOME!”.

In the working place, you’ll discover and develop your talents. Creating and managing your own projects, you’ll develop your leadership skills. The most important aspect is that , you’ll learn to cooperate with others in a multicultural environment and gain a great team spirit. If you are lucky enough, during your EVS, you can join some training courses and youth exchanges that will make your chance of making friendships and having contacts around the world double or triple! One of the top benefits of EVS for me is it is the great chance to develop awareness about social, cultural, environmental etc… issues. During your EVS, you gain a volunteer spirit that pushes you to try to do something for the society during all of your life span. Maybe by the end of your EVS, you will find out that you were born to be a NGO worker. Who knows? See? EVS is a compact pack of many opportunities; one of a couple of good things provided by the European Union. And it’s so easy that they beat the ones who don’t do EVS! Pack your stuff, say goodbye to your mum and go for your trip! (I wish my favourite satire writer was living now to revise that part of it’s book! Ayse Burcu Atabey


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aliMerhaba is a 9 months transnational project which aims to bring together young people from the cities of Izmir and Thessaloniki and develop an interactive dialogue between them through New Media. For many years, Greek and Turkish people were living peacefully together in both cities until the population exchange in 1922. 90 years later, KaliMerhaba tries to (re)investigate the similarities and differences between the two cities and especially between young people, living there. In specific, two teams of 5 people will use videos and photo reports in order to illustrate common traditions, cultural and linguistic characteristics, historical references, stereotypes and beliefs. The audiovisual material will be uploaded to a multimedia platform, dedicated to the project. The project is fundamentally based on intercultural learning and dialogue and active remembrance. It aims to bring together young people, fight deeply - rooted stereotypes and prejudices and enhance the collaboration between youngsters and organizations from the 2 countries. It has been funded by Youth in Action Programme, under the sub-action 1.2; Youth Initiatives. For more info: usbngo.gr

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usb news


WORDSMITHS IN BUD / CREATIVE WRITING Writing is a form of personal freedom. It frees us from the mass identity we see all around us. In the end, writers will write not to be outlaw heroes of some underculture but mainly to save themselves, to survive as individuals. (De Lillo)

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his aphorism is able to resume the general idea behind the “Creative Writing Workshop”we attendend at USB office. On June and July, all of us EVSers attended the above mentioned workshop which was composed by five sessions, each one focusing on some certain aspects of writing. In order to show its contents, I will summarize in the general content of the Workshop taught by Photini Karamouz. What is Creative Writing? Creative writing is anything where

the purpose is to express thoughts, feelings and emotions rather than to simply convey information. During the WS, we mostly focused on creative fiction (mainly short stories), but poetry, (auto)biography and creative non-fiction are all other forms of creative writing. Here’s a couple of definitions: Writing of any sort is hard, but rewarding work – you’ll gain a huge amount of satisfaction from a finished piece. Being creative can also be difficult and challenging at times, but immensely fun. How to get started Many people think that just because they’ve read a lot of stories (or even if they haven’t!) they should be able to write one. But as Nigel Watts writes: There is a common belief that because most of us are literate and fluent, there is no need to serve an apprenticeship if we want to become a successful wordsmith. … That’s what I thought until I tried to write my first novel. I soon learnt that a novel, like a piece of furniture, has its own set of requirements, laws of construction that have to be learnt. Just because I had read plenty of novels, it didn’t mean I could write one, any more than I could make a chair because I had sat on enough of them. By all means, if you’re keen, jump straight in and give it a go: but don’t be too disappointed if your first efforts aren’t 31

as good as you’d hoped. To extend Watts’ metaphor, you may find that these early attempts have wonky legs and an unsteady seat; so start building slowly one part after another pushing your efforts towards the direction of mere and pure creativity: we don’t care about being formal writers (especially after a couple of days!). I’d recommend starting very small. Rather than beginning with an epic fantasy trilogy, a family saga spanning five generations, or an entire adventure series … have a go at a short story or a poem; and,if you end up chewing your pen and staring at a sheet of paper or gazing at a blank screen for hours, try kickstarting your writing with a short exercise. Don’t stop to think too much about it … just get going, without worrying about the quality of the work you produce. Tips and tricks for beginners Do some short exercises to stretch your writing muscles– if you’re short of ideas, read the some Daily Writing Tips articles on websites such as “Writing Bursts”. Many new creative writers find that doing the washing up or weeding the garden suddenly looks appealing, compared to the effort of sitting down and putting words onto the page. Force yourself to get through these early doubts, and it really will get easier. Try to get into the habit of writing every day, even


if it’s just for ten minutes. If you’re stuck because of lack of ideas, carry a notebook everywhere you go and write down your observations.You’ll get some great lines of dialogue by keeping your ears open on the bus or in cafes, and an unusual phrase may be prompted by something you see or smell. Work out the time of day when you’re at your most creative. For many writers, this is first thing in the morning – before all the demands of the day jostle for attention. Others write well late at night, after the rest of the family have gone to bed. Don’t be afraid to experiment! Don’t agonize over getting it right! All writers have to revise and edit their work – it’s rare that a story, scene or even a sentence comes out perfectly the first time. Once you’ve completed the initial draft, leave the piece for a few days – then come back to it fresh for some correction time. If you know there are problems with your story but can’t pinpoint them, ask a fellow writer to read through it and give some feedback. Have Fun! Sometimes, “we” writers can end up feeling that our writing is a chore, something that “must” be done or something to procrastinate over for as long as possible ( as it happened during the workshop!); but, if your plot seems wildly far-fetched, your characters bore you to tears and you’re convinced that a five-year old with a crayon could write better prose … take a break. Start a completely new project, something which is purely for fun. Write a poem or a 60word “mini saga”. Just completing a small finished piece can help if you’re bogged down in a longer story. In the end, this is mostly what we learnt through Photini’s workshop; it’s pretty valuable, isn’it? Many elements of the workshop were kind of notorious, but – seen with other eyes – they just seemed completely different! To conclude, I’d say that the most important thing we acquired – apart from the notions listed above – is not underestimate our creativity and, especially, ourselves. Giorgio Buonsante 32


2 and ½ Greeks facilitating

their way to Romania!

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nited Societies of Balkans sent them on a long road. They took their luggage and took off with no fears and loads of expectations. 2 and ½ Greeks on their way to Craiova (Romania). Mission: taking part in the Training Course “Active Participation Innovative Tools for Young Facilitators” hosted by the Centrul Educational de Resurse si Training. From Thessaloniki passing through Athens and Bucharest, they finally reached Craiova. Twenty long hours travelling by train, metro, bus and car. Meeting new people, speaking Greek, English and some Italian. Yes, the other ½ Greek is actually Italian… pretending to be Greek. The other participants would have discover it soon… Anna, Zoe and Matteo reached the city in the evening of the 7th July 2013 after travelling all the night passing through the capital, Bucharest. Wide roads and buildings defined by a combination of proletarian and contemporary architecture. A city build in the midst of green. At first look, beautiful. Too little time to spend there to have the chance to visit it deeply. Just a short walk in the park in front of the Gara de Nord then train to Craiova. They were welcomed at the station by the main organizers and brought to the youth Hostel where the major part of the training would be held. After reaching the hostel, Gabi, a member of the Romanian team, welcomed the Greek delegation warmly. Even though he was the youngest amongst the group, he proved to be the righthand man of all the participants throughout the training course. Ten days of intensive training made

the in reason to stay in Craiova,a 200.000 inhabitants cozy city in the south-west of Romania at the border with Bulgaria. The trainers, Adina Enache and Marian Ancuta, facilitated a learning space in which they dealt with “hardcore boot camp” education. Breakfast, reveille and start from 10 and until 7 in the afternoon, through aerobics they learned about methods and tools of active participation for young facilitators; In total they were trained the following methods: Living library, Photo Voice, Experiential Learning, Flash mob, Forum Theatre, Invisible Theatre and Street Animation. The official start of the program was on the 8th morning. After presenting themselves the trainers, they went through all the schedule of the Training Course outlining the major points and explaining the aims and purposes of the project the participants were going to intensively take part in. After that, some time dedicated to presentation of each participant (in their own language!) and then exposition of expectations, contributions and fears. The trainers kept on going more and more into the main core of the training course starting with the Profile of the Facilitator session. Participants were divided in 4 groups to make the perfect portrait of what they thought needed to be, to act and all the characteristics they should possess in order to be a perfect facilitator. After that each group presented their work and then discussed about the role of the facilitator. The trainers were giving tips and practical suggestions and also underlined the differences between the figure of the facilitator, the trainer, the organizer and the coordinator. 33

An interesting role play on stereotypes prejudices and discrimination was set where the main topic was asylum seekers. The night program started with the first Cultural Night and Greece and Slovenia were the firsts. Guys prepared all their traditional dishes, videos and presentations dedicated to Greece. The participants enjoyed the evening and danced together traditional Greek dances. On the 9th, the second working day started with an introduction about the first active participation method: Forum Theatre. Participants were introduced into the basic concept behind the method and all the practical information to put in practice the activity later on during the Training Course. After that an interesting role play on stereotypes prejudices and


discrimination was set where the main topic was asylum seekers. A deep discussion followed the exercise; so everyone shared their feelings during and after the session about which are the real nowadays situations present in our society in relation to prejudices and discrimination. The trainers gave many inputs for the discussion and went further trying to propose practical solutions to those issues related to the topic. The afternoon sessions started with a video presentation about Forum Theatre and manners through which it was run in the past. After that team work: thinking of a scenario, the themes to deal with and put in practice in a real play afterwards. Each team presented their scenario to the others and gave feedbacks for improvements. The evening program concluded with the Bulgarian Night. Wednesday 10th was the day to actually put in practice the Forum Theatre plays. At the city park, youngsters had the chance to “be actors” and involve themselves for the first time in a Forum Theatre play. They had time to see and act in two different scenarios that dealt with episodes of discrimination. During the afternoon, they returned back to the hostel and, after acting for the third group scenario in the session room had time to discuss and go over all the process faced in the morning. The discussion was really intense and many points of view, many possible

solutions and questions over the scenarios were raised. A useful and handout explaination about how to deal with Forum Theatre was given to every participant. The working day ended reflecting in smaller groups about the notions learnt during the day and writing small parts of the Youthpass. On the 11th, Thursdsay, it was time for a visit at the Craiova Penitentiary for Minors. There after meeting the Responsible for the Education Programs in the penitentiary and a Q&A session about rules and methods of rehabilitation in prison for the youngsters and some musical and theatrical play by the group of young prisoners the participants started to deal with the next method: Living Library. They had the chance to “read” two or three books each, listening to the life stories of the very young prisoners, asking questions on their actual life in prison and their future hopes. During the afternoon they gathered for a review for the experience and had a discussion on the active participation tool of the Living Library. The trainers explained very clearly the basic rules on how to handle with a Living Library event and the methods needed to have a good result. Everyone shared their opinions on the morning in the prison and then went on for the last Forum Theatre play left which was related to a “prison discrimination” episode it was also a moment to reflect more using the 34

The challenge was to go to a place in Craiova and promote the Training Course through stickers, pictures and Facebook. Forum Theatre technique on what they experienced in the morning also on what could still happen there and propose possible solutions by putting them into practice in a theatrical play. As a conclusion of the working day there was the group reflection time. The night was devoted to a Carnival party in a club downtown. The sixth day of the Training Course started in the park and it was focused on the next method for active participation and involvement of youngsters in outdoor activities. Street animation was the core of the activity and the through small exercises, the trainers got the participants into the world of juggling. Together they practiced and learnt how to juggle and involve young people in modeling of balloons and other creative and fun ways to attract youngsters’ attention in the streets or in any other social context. During the afternoon, they


Once they decided upon the topic of “supporting each other” the whole group presented some ideas to be realized organizing all the stages of the activity. had to “be active”! The challenge was to go to a place in Craiova and promote the Training Course through stickers, pictures and Facebook. The day ended with the reflection group and the writing of the Youthpass. The evening was dedicated to the Czech Intercultural night. On Saturday 13th July the participants started the morning with the Experiential – Learning stage session and then they performed the intermediary evaluation. In the afternoon session, the trainers introduced the Flash mob method. Some examples of successful flash mobs around the world were shown and then the youngsters had to come up with an idea of Flash Mob to be realized in Craiova’s center. Every group presented its ideas and voted upon the one that was preferred the most. Once they decided upon the topic of “supporting each other” the whole group presented some ideas to be realized organizing all the stages of the activity. Then some time was dedicated to a practical rehearsal of the Flash mob to be done during the evening so they went to the center to perform the flash mob and, during the evening before the movie night they watched the video footage and images from the performance. On Sunday the participants worked only in the morning; the afternoon was to be spent relaxing or exploring the city of Craiova. That was the day for the last two

methods to be explained and realized. Invisible Theatre: participants had a deep explanation of how it works and watched videos of an Invisible Theatre realized in another project in Craiova. They discussed upon it got to know all the techniques and received advices on how to implement it in the most functional way. The second activity was Photo-voice: they had received all the info regarding this method and got to know the real meaning of why and how using it; this phase was a preparation for the next morning photo session to be done at the Roma Community center. So, the following morning, they visited it to collect materials for the photovoice exhibition. They had the chance 35

to see how the Roma people really live: their houses, their daily lives, their traditions and the distance that can be felt in that environment towards the “outside” world. During the afternoon, all the groups had to choose the best 3 pictures and write a description of the photos which would be part of the photo-voice exhibition. On the last working day, July 16th, except the closure discussion, they received a visit from the local council of the Roma community and talked about the experiences of the previous day. He had the opportunity to explain better the political side of the situation and check their photo-voice exhibition. On the same day we left Craiova to Bucharest where we had the flight on


Craiova was really nice and the friendly environment surely helped the success of the training.

to Athens. Anna: “days passed slowly and quickly. Equipped with new tools, renewed mind and new ideas for active participation; the experience was so rich and multi faced that its’ thorough presentation would not treat fairly to its actual value. Though if it had to be expressed through a simple sentence, for me it would be something like: A piece of my heart remains, lives and beats in Craiova.” Zoe: “We were trained in the use of many innovative tools and methods of non-formal education such as: Living library, Photo Voice, Experiential Learning, Flash mob, Forum Theatre, Invisible Theatre and Street Animation. Personally, the best

moment of the whole training course was taking part in Forum theatre. We were first taught the characteristics of Forum Theatre and then we were divided into groups to take action!! We wrote the script, distributed the roles, designed the settings and prepared the costumes, and after many demanding rehearsals we were ready for the play. The performance took place in a park and the audience was composed by random pedestrians! Another worthwhile moment in Craiova was our visit to the jail where we practiced the method of Living Library. There, we had the chance to borrow and “read” (talk to) many books (minor prisoners). Our discussion with these marginalized

people was definitely an innovative way to come closer, understand, feel them and eliminate the stereotypes that society sometimes promotes. Apart from the intensive training, there were also relaxing moments, for example when we were exploring the beauties of the city and of course the intercultural nights which turned to be real parties!! 10 days in Craiova! 10 days of busy schedule and unforgettable moments. Equipped with knowledge and new competencies, we left our new friends. However, great memories were, are and will always be our minds and in our hearts!” Matteo: “Reality exceeded expectations. Craiova was really nice and the friendly environment surely helped the success of the training. At the end, spending ten full days in an environment built step by step, by the whole group participating in the training and growing knowledge, experience, practices, ideas and feelings together was the real value of this experience. I’ve never seen so much contact with the reality you are living in during a training course and this amazed me and gave surplus to the whole thing for me. For sure the Youthpass we wrote to evaluate ourselves immersed in this experience is missing of something. But it’s normal, I think. It’s easy to remember when you learn few things. It’s never easy to realize right away the million things you’ll take with you in such a fulfilling experiences like this one. But life will bring them slowly back in the right moment, I’m sure of it.” Matteo Scarpa

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Un’ esperienza alternativa *An alternative experience 37


Five countries, five groups of six individuals, one common purpose.. It doesn’ t seem very simple, does it? Well, it wasn’ t.

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t only lasted for two weeks but we came back full of beautiful memories and an important experience. Of course, I am referring to the Youth Exchange “Mind the G.A.P.s. – Gender, Art and Public Space” which was held in Italy at the beginning of August. The main goal of the project for its thirty participants was to create an exhibition related to gender balance, by negotiating this particular subject based on the images they get from their daily life. Five countries, five groups of six individuals, one common purpose. It doesn’t seem very simple, does it? Well, it wasn’t. Each group had prepared an extended presentation regarding the relations between the two genders in their country. There were long conversations, debates and videos but it didn’t end there. One lecture

MIND THE G.A.P.S. from an Italian feminist organization, theatre improvisations, workshops and games led the participants against the stereotypes concerning the two genders. There were many topics we discussed on, such as the status of women in legislation, sports, professions, fairy tales and history but I found one workshop concerning journalism quite special; looking through national newspapers we analyzed the gender balance in journalism. Sadly, Greece was the only country whose journalists were mostly (90%!!!) male. The greatest challenge, though, was not the theoretical one...We were supposed to manage as a team our own time into a functional schedule. That practically meant that thirty “strangers” were made to cook for themselves, wash their dishes, clean and generally co-operate for their daily needs. In the beginning, hardly it didn’t sound possible at all! To my great surprise, however, it all worked out beautifully. Not only we overcame the difficulties, but we also formed bonds of friendship among us, which helped us to collaborate as a small society taking care of all its members. Regardless the gender, we all contributed to every effort in order to have a satisfactory result. The way things turned out to work certainly surpassed my expectations. That 38

was the most important experience I gained from the whole project. Rather than its main goal the program also had an intercultural character. We had the opportunity to enjoy a special celebration with traditional Italian dances and music, named: “La notte della taranta”. The main square of our hosting town celebrated an annual event, welcoming hundreds of people to dance under the moon light and the shadows of a castle. One of my favorite nights was also the Polish intercultural night. The Polish team organized a “hidden treasure” game requesting us to learn more about their country. The winnering team award was a certificate of the Polish citizenship. It was an honor for Greece giving the fact that two of the team members were Greek. That program was of double importance to me. Additionally to my experience as a participant, I had the opportunity to be the youth leader of the Greek team and see in practice the way a group is brought together and its dynamic is built. Overall it was a very useful experience and I hope I will be able to participate in such programs again. Evgenia Dermitzaki


EVS WANTED Aim was to sensitize local youth to become active citizens and take advantage of the educational opportunities EU offers.

“Thess EVS?”

is a wordplay which stands for the question: “Wanna EVS?”. It was, at the same time, the title of an approved program organized and held by the NGO “United Societies of Balkans” last winter; it was part of the framework of “Youth in Action” programs. Its aim was to sensitize local youth to become active citizens and take advantage of the educational opportunities EU offers.

“Wanna EVS?” was the permanent question of our mentor, Mrs Olympia Datsi, for the previous months. “Of course!” was the answer to the above question because it sounded like something ideal in our minds and we supported the action, but did we really want it? I came across the Youth in Action projects by chance. The EVS volunteers of United Societies of Balkans shared with me their passion and experiences during an open anniversary party they organized for their hosting organization at Aristotelous square, in Thessaloniki. I stayed in touch with the organization through emails and meetings. I did a six-month Erasmus program, I went for a training course and then other opportunities appeared. While participating in its activities, I found out that non-formal education was a suitable way of learning for me and, after becoming familiar with the way of working in the various programs, I made up my mind to apply for the European Voluntary Service. I felt like I could have the chance to express myself, to put the theoretical concepts we had learnt into practice, to visit a new country and get to know another culture: I had the motivation I needed.

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“United Societies of Balkans” took up the responsibility to find a program that could cover my needs. After searching for a long period, the hosting organization was found, my project was approved and I got one step closer to my European Voluntary Service, in Izmir, Turkey. But this is not the end of the story. Our organization arranged a predeparture seminar for all its future EVS volunteers in the Youth Center of Kalamata. There we met two other young people, we worked together, we expressed our fears and our expectations and we had the chance to meet the volunteers of the Youth Center. Moreover, our trainers gave us all the information we needed to get ready for our new life, they enhanced our creativity and curiosity to learn more. We also had the benefit to discuss and work with them in order to create our own EVS educational schedule, an exercise which let us understand the range of the knowledge we can gain. We left Kalamata after spending four wonderful days there. Our training made something to chew on bob up, but I am confident that this experience will be worth it! Evgenia Dermitzaki


Stay Tuned @ usb-onair.gr


highlights


Aphrodite’s island: eyes THAT are living the Crisis.

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ome months passed from that March disaster. The island is still beautiful and breath-taking, but people’s feelings, sense of security, view of their immediate future is slowly changing instead. Something that Greek people are experiencing from a long time now seems hitting more and more Cypriots as well. History, traditions, food, language link these two countries not more, neither less, than the hard times they are facing in this moment. Crisis is a word that could mean anything in the mouth of people that still carry on, daily, harshly or lightly, with their lives and of their beloved ones. That makes little difference and a definition would be just redundant. What their eyes are seeing, their minds are believing and trusting. There is no longer a filter in the eyes of these people; they are not part of the power-game. My trip to Cyprus in June was unexpectedly surprising. It could have been just a three days vacations but it was more. I had the chance to meet interesting people and discover their stories. I saw through their words the life they were living. I just saw their moves sometimes, it was enough to understand. I heard and felt what they were going through. It was their real, normal, daily life. In times where the international community is hit back by its economic interdependence and countries are paying the consequences of these strong bonds, people are carrying the weight of all this. Their shoulders have to grow stronger and lift up their downgraded hopes for the future. “Terms set early Monday for a 10 billion-euro bailout will deepen an already painful recession and send unemployment — now at 15

percent — soaring. They require the dismantling of Laiki Bank, with the loss of around 2,500 jobs, and a significant reduction in the country’s role as an offshore financial center.” (ALDERMAN, 2013) I’m Antonis, I’m 38 and I’m from Cyprus. I grew up here and I’m working at the Laiki Bank here in Lefkosia. Laiki, also known as Cyprus Popular Bank, is the bank that was the first one to collapse – it lost 2.3 billion euros, according to its 2011 annual report - and that took down pretty much of all the system with it. We reached the point that Laiki bank became the second bank of Cyprus and the Troika forced the closure of Laiki and the merge with the Bank of Cyprus (which is the number one bank of Cyprus) and now all the employees of both banks are working for the Bank of Cyprus. The question is now if this can keep on as it and the economy can survive. Cyprus is a small economy and it was covered by media mostly because Troika was having an approach that it never had before and also because of the huge capital restrictions within the EU. -“Laiki Bank “was already in a bad way because of bad lending,” said Kikis Lazarides, a former chairman of the bank. But, he added, the writedown on Greek bonds “was more or less the killer blow.” (ALDERMAN, 2013)” My work situation now it’s much different because I have an employer that I don’t really know. Half of the people are going to leave the Bank either on their own or they will be forced to. They are not firing people yet but they are going to start soon with a volunteer exit plan – you get something and you leave – if not enough people take it then you’ll be forced to go. 43


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Cyprus would increase rapidly and reach also high level, maybe not as high as Greece. At the time when the Eurogroup came, some newspapers like the Financial Time were publishing things like Troika would probably consider bailing in the deposit and as a consequence so a lot of people started taking their money out so that’s why the banking system shut down after the Parliament voted the rejection of Troika’s plan. The original proposal was that everybody would lose 7-10 % of their deposits so that the 2 Banks were recapitalized, obviously, everybody ran to withdraw their money and this caused the banking system to close and people not being able to get their money. Everybody was withdrawing money from ATMs and after the bailing of the Bank of Cyprus and the Laiki customers there was capital restriction so not everybody would get their money and the banking system collapsed and still you are not allowed to get an ex amount of money, you are not allowed to cash cheques, you are not allowed to take money out of the country unless you specify why, you need to submit documents to the bank if it is a small enough amount the bank will approve if it is not, if it is large it will go to the Central Bank. Now we are at the face that we are asking from the Troika, actually the President was making a good point trying to convince them that they should take the restrictions off and support the country with liquidity because otherwise the economy would shut down by the day. Instead they put “severe restrictions on the movement of capital. Daily withdrawals are limited to 300 euros, no checks can be cashed, credit card transactions abroad are limited to 5,000 euros per month. Businesses can carry out transactions of up to 5,000 euros per day only, and any commercial transaction over 5,000 euros needs to be reviewed

by specially formed committees.” (Steininger, 2013) Unless something substantial and important changes soon I think Cyprus will find itself in the same situation as Greece but very fast. I don’t know if very fast is good or bad but it’s probably better than being prolonged and that unemployment increases a bit month by month and finally reaches the 27% level of Greece. I think Cyprus would increase rapidly and reach also high level, maybe not as high as Greece. Basically there are 2 things we hope for: one is Europe deciding to tackle this issue differently as they are doing right now, for example decentralizing more the debt somehow, but that’s really up to the Germans, so we have to wait at least until September when there will be elections in Germany otherwise we are hoping we will discover some oil where the French companies bought a piece of land to explore for gas and oil and if they do, it will be very easy and fast to sell, we will not need much infrastructures so will start getting income from there or if we prove that we found oil and gas and it’s big quantities maybe we can sell bonds related to that income and get the economy breathe a little bit. The most important thing right now, and I don’t know if it is going to happen or not is if European Bank with the approval of the Commission gives us some liquidity because unless they do the capital restrictions 45

will stay and with that the economy dies by the day. It was a problem of interests asked by the Troika plan as it was in Greece. I think the interest was ok. The problem is that they need to support our banking system like these, I don’t know which percentage but a huge one of the deposits in the banking system left Greece and it was supported through mergers liquidity from the European Central Bank. We want the same. “The Eurogroup has reached an agreement with the Cypriot authorities on the key elements necessary for a future macroeconomic adjustment programme..The programme will address the exceptional challenges that Cyprus is facing and restore the viability of the financial sector, with the view of restoring sustainable growth and sound public finances over the coming years. The Eurogroup welcomes the plans for restructuring the financial sector as specified in the annex. These measures will form the basis for restoring the viability of the financial sector..The Eurogroup urges the immediate implementation of the agreement between Cyprus and Greece on the Greek branches of the Cypriot banks, which protects the stability of both the Greek and Cypriot banking systems..” (Cyprus, 2013) I think everybody is just very insecure right now. Nobody really knows if he/she will have a job next month. Nobody knows if it will be able to


I’ m an optimist, I don’ t really care and if things go bad. repay his/her loans. That’s really another big issue as in Cyprus, the private debt in Greece is not as much as is in here. People here have borrowed much more and obviously the property prices dropped and everybody is stuck with huge loans, houses that cannot be sold to anybody, not sure if they are going to keep their jobs, if they do the salary are reduced, it’s pretty bad! I’m not depressed anyway. It depends on your personality, I’m an optimist, I don’t really care and if things go bad. I’ll leave the country and go find a job in Dubai, Abu Dabhi, London or wherever. I’m Dino, they call me Hindi. I’m 35 and I’m from Cyprus. I always lived here and now me and my girlfriend are expecting a baby. I’m working in the Organic/Biological products field. Field in the real sense of the word, as I have a field where I grow many different kinds of biological products. It’s a small business that let me just survive even if I can see that the demand for these products is growing. I used to have 4 workers/employees that helped me sustain the business as we had 11 stable customers. I was selling door to door. Now, it’s just me working my piece of land and I just have 2 customers. It’s difficult. I cannot

afford to have workers anymore, the incomes are not as enough as they were and I had to cut in manpower that means less production, equals less customers. Also the Utopia Collectiva project was about to shut down. We used to run the organic business there I was alone at some point. Luckily some friends came in before it was too late so now we are 7 associates and things seems going better. We are trying to make the most we can in terms of activities running in the Collectiva and the Community Garden we set up with great effort it seems giving its fruits. Utopia Collectiva is based in the Old Nicosia. It was created by a team of young people with similar beliefs and perception regarding lifestyle, nature and society. We respect nature and want to live in harmony. Our aim is to promote and encourage a healthy, collective and sustainable way of living. That’s why Utopia Collectiva was created. We offer a peaceful space for people interested in organic vegetables, healthy diet, Yoga, educational workshops, screenings and music. The Community Garden is a project open to all residents of Cyprus, which includes a number of events aiming to advocate and provide tools towards the development of a sustainable collaborative community, organic agriculture and to promote an alternative, sustainable and 46

healthy lifestyle for young people in the present times of socio-economic uncertainty. Utopia Collectiva was inspired to create a Community Garden from similar projects abroad that try to tackle the problems of urbanization through the creation of alternative spaces for quality and healthy food production. The aim is to form green spaces in the urban landscape, in plots not utilised by the authorities or individuals, in order to cultivate the land, benefit from it and develop a healthy community. Planting gardens in an urban polluted space, with noise and hectic rhythms is among other things a therapeutic action. The Garden will be used as a platform for activities that aim to provide the audience with knowledge and tools to enable them to take control of their daily needs and to build a collaborative community of exchange and mutual respect. This way the attendees will become more adaptive and rely more on themselves and the community. (http://collectivebahce. wordpress.com/) Crisis has affected youth people around here as has affected us. Anyhow I still believe in my dream and no matter what I will continue to work on it. I’m still seeing people becoming more and more aware of what we with Collectiva are trying to do, even in these hard times. I see people interested in what we believe and in the activities we are carrying on. There is some kind of strength people have brought out of these crisis time and this is putting them together, interconnected, more and more closer to each other, compassionate and with a high level of dignity in order to to live a decent life no matter what. Crisis is felt here in Cyprus and normal people are feeling it and for sure it will be felt in the next months, year maybe. We will continue working. Our hands will still be dirty. Nature will do its course. Matteo Scarpa


SOCIAL PLACES @ THESSALONIKI t’s been half a year that I live in Thessaloniki and I’m totally in love with this city. There are so many nice places to go in your free time – a lot of music and art events are happening every week and most of them for free. As in every southern European city, the sidewalks are full of people

eating or drinking coffee at any time of the day. We – the EVS volunteers- really like goin out and having fun so we would like to share with you some of the best spots we discovered in this vibrant city. I would start with the social spaces/centers where I spent long hours absorbed by interesting conversations with a glass of rakomelo (in case that you are

not Greek, it is a typical sweet alcoholic drink you definitely must try). After I returned from Spain I was very excited about the squats and all the ideas staying behind them and I was happy to discover that Greeks as well are very much into this kind of places. Here are 4 places which function like social centers in Thessaloniki - you can

go there for a cheap drink, but you should know there is something much more special: all of them are functioning like nonprofit organizations supporting different causes and they are run in the spirit of cooperation, solidarity and mutual aid. There is a real community behind them, but they are opened to the general public and everyone is very welcomed.

Mikropolis

Sxoleio

Steki Metanaston

Fabrika Ifanet

It’s a place in the city center close to Plateia Eleuteria. It’s an old beautiful building with an impressive architecture. It’s perfect especially when it’s cold outside as it’s very cozy inside. Apart from the nice bar, they have a kitchen, library and a fair trade shop where you can find all the basic things you need to live a healthy and environmental friendly life, supporting the local economy at the same time. Often, they provide a base for initiatives such as discussions and public debates, concerts, movie nights. Here you can find their blogspot if you want to find out more and take part in some of their activities they have: micropolissocialspace.blogspot.gr

Wonderful, colorful and very active place with a big garden where you can really enjoy summer evenings. Be aware that it closes quite early (around midnight) but it’s close to the sea so you can also continue your conversation there. Again you can find a fair trade shop, kitchen and a lot of activities to do – sports, language courses (including Chinese)… They are all for free, so join them: you can also participate as a teacher/instructor. The services are determined by both the needs of the community and the skills which the participants have to offer. Check it on: sxoleio12. wordpress.com

Literally means refugees hangout; it is a social place where immigrants gather to spend time and take part in discussions, movie nights, exhibitions, dedicated to antiracism actions,etc. It is a place where you can learn a lot about the problems of the refugees - a very serious issue nowadays in Greece. You can spend a really nice time enjoying live music and tasting traditional food from distant places in the world, meeting interesting people, but try to contribute somehow as well! There are many ways to help. socialcenter.gr

It is a squat in Thessaloniki, but also it functions as a cultural center. It’s a very active and full of events place, a place of creativity and promotion of the individual and collective expression with any possible way. The building is an old factory that was occupied in 2004. yfanet.net

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Social spaces are needed in our society to promote values like solidarity and freedom of expression that many times are neglected nowadays. They provide a space for direct communication and give access to knowledge. In order for these places to exist we should contribute; It’s not needed to support certain political ideas in order to share the humanitarian ideas that stay behind this places. Philipa Nikolova 48


The 2013 Bulgarian self-immolations were a wave of suicides in public places caused by the  protests during the early spring. There are 8 death cases in one year. Self-immolation is a public act, aiming to grab attention of the public and a message through the media. It’s an act of total despair, in some cases caused by impossibility to pay the bills, to take care of the family and a lack of any future perspective. In other cases it is a matter of dignity and an act of self- sacrifice in the name of a better future for the others. The most famous case was the death of Plamen Goranov - photographer and climber who set himself on fire in front of the municipality of Varna to protest against the management of the city.  This kind of nihilism is a consequence of the totally ignorant government – the old one that resigned and the new one that is not resigning now 60 days after the protests against it started. For more information on the topic: youtube.com/watch?v=Wqxy0gULa3U

It’s not about right and left, it’s about right and wrong!

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t has been now one month and a half since the Bulgarian citizens started to gather in the squares protesting against the mafia, against the lie and against the corruption. The government keeps not caring, and not only, the MPs are underestimating what’s happening, calling the protesters “imbecile crowd”. The change on the streets of Sofia is impressive, but there is also big change on another level – in the attitude and the mood of the people.

It’s a new age, it’s a new generation, new nation – smiling, confident, and daring to fight for a better future. The people on the streets all have different beliefs, what unites them is the desire for a better life. The most important aspect for me is that the big change finally happened: the usual pessimism, so characteristic for the Bulgarians, suddenly turned into mass euphoria. That joy became reason for some people to blame the protesters in turning the manifestation into a festival and being an euphoric crowd, that 49

doesn’t know what fights for. But, indeed, the message of the protesters is very clear: “Resign!” It’s a simple political demand. It’s not anymore about what we want from you, we just don’t want you no more! The reaction of the government is totally inadequate plus there is no will for dialogue. The answer of the government to the situation is constant ignorance and trials to compromise the protest. The strongest tool of this protest is that it’s peaceful. The behavior


Защото сега в България се случва нещо уникално of the crowd is unusual and the government doesn’t know how to deal with it. There is a huge change from the protest on February when the government of Boyko Borisov resigned. The hooligans are replaced by children, babies, dogs, the stones by flowers, and the fights by dance. It’s like a competition about who will find the most creative way to show their discontent through performances, dances, costumes. On the 40th day of the protests the police have broke up a blockade in front of the of Parliament made by anti-government protesters to escort out more than 100 lawmakers and government Ministers who had been trapped inside the besieged building for more than eight hours. It was the first time that police clashed with demonstrators. What the media wrote in the morning was that the protests turned violent. In fact, yes, there was blood, there was a clash, there were people beaten by the police, but actually the police made all the possible in order to avoid a clash. In my opinion, the reaction both of the protesters and the police was adequate, and the tension was controlled within the range of the minimum. The media is reflecting what is happening. After the resigning of the ex-prime minister Boyko Borisov, who was occupying the media with his constant presence, now the media is celebrating a freedom of expression and is dominated by the mass euphoria. The journalists are more emotional in their reports and openly declare their sympathy to the protesters. One way ticket but this time we stay and you leave! Who is on the streets? Those are people who voted for parties who were not elected, others voted for this government and believed in

the fake promises of the politicians, but instead they received a tawdry show. There are also people who didn’t vote but they are disgusted by what is happening. It’s the protest of the angry person who can’t take it anymore, of the ones who are respecting the rules against those who don’t. Why? It’s a protest against the tendency of putting politically and morally compromised figures on the high governmental positions. Against the fact that it’s not clear who is leading the country. Even though it’s a democratic country, with democratic elections, the people feel alienated from the political elite. What do the people want? They want Bulgaria to develop accordingly to the standards of the European democracy, as an equal European member. The protests are not tied to any political party, nor designed to return certain political forces in power. The key concept is moral. I have not been paid, I hate you for free! The protests in Bulgaria look like part of a global tendency. There are big similarities and an inspiration in the ways of protesting but the essence is very different, it has its own dynamic and specific characteristics. First of all the economic crisis in Bulgaria is not commensurate with the one in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Bulgaria is a country in a stable financial environment with less internal and external debt. The situation in Bulgaria fits very much with the concept of the American sociologist Francis Fukuyama about the rising of the new global middle class. There is something common in the protests in Turkey, Brazil, Bulgaria, China and the Arabic Spring. In all these countries the events have the same 50

The protests in Bulgaria look like part of a global tendency. There are big similarities and an inspiration in the ways of protesting but the essence is very different, it has its own dynamic and specific characteristics. marks: a big movement and euphoria, but rarely this drove to stable political changes. In those protests on the street were mainly young, well-educated and economically independent people. They are using social media to spread information and to organize demonstrations to achieve their goals. The worrying fact is that the protests of the middle class rarely bring a stable political change. The young people hardly make connections with the poor class and the working class, that’s why they hardly manage to make a political coalition. But it’s too early to think about what will happen next, unfortunately until today the 50th day of the protests, the government still refuses to resign and from today on will be in summer vacation … Philipa Nikolova


TIPS FOR

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ummer, summer, summer!!! Where else if not in Greece??!! Every Greek island is ready to welcome you, but... why don’t you try a different place??!! Not so famous as Santorini or Creta but likewise beautiful. It is not an island but a peninsula. Let’s go to Halkidiki! The peninsula in the Aegean Sea has three legs: Kassandra, Sithonia and Agion Oros. The best way to visit it is by car, because every leg has its own peculiarity. First, you can enjoy the well-know night life in Kassandra, then you can drink a coffee in one of the beach bars an the sea side of Sithonia after a long swim in a clean and transparent sea and, at the end, a bit of spirituality in the last leg that hosts the Mount Athos and its monasteries. So, leave your car and take a boat (there are different company for the Athos sea cruise. The trip lasts about 3 hours and the price is around 20€) from Ouranopoli (the last town before the Mount Athos’ prohibited area... at least for women...) and enjoy the spectacular view of Mount Athos...

TRIPS Halkidiki

Michela Gennari

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UNITED SOCIETIES OF BALKANS THESSALONIKI, GREECE, 2013


Balkan Beats 3