Friday, December 23, 2011

A day more..

A new day at Las Palmas, which as well was full with interesting things like the previous ones. According to the program we had to go to the university and speak about the immigration. We, like Greek peoples, know enough about immigration as we have a lot of immigrants and i thought it would be one normal information but I was wrong. It was something more than just one normal information.

We saw the problem of immigration from another way of view. We saw it from the eyes of the immigrants, the difficulties they have to face during the trip to the "better world". We saw that a lot of them get caught from the police and some others have tragic ends. The ones that arrive to their desired destination, are trying to get in to the normal life and when they earn some money, they send them directly to their families to help their people to take the risk and do the "trip of freedom". When the presentation ended I was so surprised with the things I had just learnt. It was great.

After that, we went back to the city for lunch and once again, it was delicious like every time.
But the day didn’t end and we had so many things to do. After lunch we went to the Canteras beach and we met there the children from the Foster house. All of them seemed to be so nice guys. At first we played one game to learn each other’s names and after that we made teams including kids from the Foster house and us. We started to play different games like football, volleyball and rugby. It was so interesting because even though we couldn't speak Spanish, we could understand each other very good. It was amazing. The children were so friendly and nice with us. I took from them so many and good fillings and I hope I gave something to them as well.

Then we went back to the hostel and we had our conversation; we expressed our fillings, thoughts, opinions about the day we had. It was so nice to hear other people’s opinions and to express yours.

At the end of every day I was full of greats fillings and lot of knowledge and for me this is better than the typical school. I'm so glad that i took part at this. Thanks!!!

Haris Dema, AEGEE-Peiraias

Friday, December 16, 2011

Let's dance!

On Tuesday evening we visited the Down Syndrome people in their place again. It was really nice to feel how much they appreciated our presence there. All of them remembered all our faces and were really keen to hug us when they saw us.

What was really sorprising for us was the fact that while we were waiting outside of the building, one of the guys (Álvaro) reached us from distance and shouted our names while he was still far away. It's also really amazing that he was just walking alone and listening to music while we have the stereotype that this people are unable to be autonomous somehow.

Afterwards while we were under the building we met people with Down Syndrome we haven't met before and it was amazing how friendly they were and how much they were willing to give us love without as they knew us for a long time.

The main aim of our visit was to show and also teach them traditional dances from our countries. At first, we were a bit confused about what to present but soon we chose an easy slow dance. By that time we thought that it would be extremely difficult for them to follow us. Whereas when we started dancing after a few minutes everyone in the room knew all the steps.

About the most amazing came later when they announced us that they had prepared something to show to us and they were so excited. The first dance was an Argentinian "Tango" which really was the most amazing "Tango" we have ever seen in a live performance. They did not only dance but performed roles like actors. A girl was sitting in a chair pretending that she was smoking and the man tried to seduce her. Afterwards all the others came in pairs to show us other dances like Samba, Flamenco, Salsa, etc. The moment that both we and they enjoyed the most was when they all started dancing together and we were clapping in order to support them and then we all saw the happiness in their faces.

Last but not least, a girl from India asked her teacher if she could dance a traditional Indian dance for us and she was really passioned to show us her roots and we all saw while she was dancing. When we were about to live, a girl named Nara approached us, hugged us and asked us to give greetings to our tall friend Kostas that the day before were playing together bowling, and she really looked like she was going to miss us.

When we have to say goodbye to all of them, it was hard because they gave us the feelings that no adult that you know for such a short time cannot give you.

What these guys taught us on this evening was that perhaps they cannot express themselves with words but they can do it in a strongger way, a way that we don't usually remember. They express themselves through emotions, hugs and kisses, things that we don't really appreciate and for them are such an important actions. It is really helpful for their lives that they learn to express themselves with words but shouldn't we also remember these kind of feelings?

Sofia Kaskari & Kostas Kakavoulis


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Some thoughts

Day 2, Tuesday 13th (despite the fact that it is already Day 4... but we are in Spain and have to adjust somehow :) )

The group of smiling and shining volunteers (including me) from 4 different European countries started the day with an early trip to one little and lovely factory. In this factory people are baking cookies but these are not ordinary cookies, these ones are made by care, patience and vast of love.
Did you know that also people with Down syndrome have to work, create and earn in order to survive? And I had the opportunity to see those people in action, busy with, and responsible for execution of orders they have for the Christmas time. The representative of "Canela&Clavo" (hope that it is the correct name of the company) was so kind and honest to reveal us the reality of making "business" where people with Down syndrome are involved. For me it was sad to hear that they have to struggle so much in today's market, without having any support from authorities. But they are strong and full of dedication to the work they do, therefore I simply admire them. I have never seen such enthusiastic and energetic workers who never stop smiling. The level of their life satisfaction increases by simple everyday's activities that sometimes I don't appreciate enough - involvement in the labor market, having duties and responsibilities, being in the society, having communication, making relationship, friendship etc.
And when I tried these cookies, I fell in love with them at the same moment. You cannot imagine how delicious they are unless you taste them. I will never forget Dora's smiling face distributing the sweets that she and her colleagues baked.

The one thing is the admiration of people with Down syndrome in today's world but I can't not to mention my feelings that are connected to the participants of the project. I am very happy and proud of all of us, of AEGEE community, for tolerance, understanding and our free will to raise awareness about this situation. I really hope that this experience will change our perception and break prejudices about the world and people living in it.

Voluntarily yours,

Primeras impresiones (ES)

De las raíces a las frutas...
¿Que qué quiere decir esto? ¡Pues que un nuevo evento de AEGEE acaba de comenzar!

6 armenias y armenios, 7 griegas y griegos, 7 letones y muchos españoles se han reunido en Las Palmas de Gran Canaria para disfrutar de un evento muy especial, un evento sobre el voluntariado. El objetivo principal es el de dar a conocer a las y los jóvenes los diferentes tipos de voluntariado que existen.

El primer día consistió en visitar un centro de personas con síndrome de Down ( No se trata de un centro que tan solo organiza actividades para estas personas, sino de un lugar en el que pueden descubrir su potencial y desarrollar sus capacidades para adentrarse en el mundo laboral.

Lo primero que hicieron fue presentarse y contarnos algunas cosas sobre su personalidad y las actividades en las que participan. Lo que más nos impresionó fue el hecho de que hablaran de sus sueños y planes de futuro, fue realmente estremecedor el escuchar a personas con síndrome de Down hablar de cómo pretenden cumplir sus objetivos en la vida. Sin duda, conseguirán integrarse en la sociedad.

La siguiente actividad consistió en la presentación de las y los participantes de Letonia; hablaron de su país, de su clima, del idoma letón, de su cultura y de sus tradiciones. Las personas con síndrome de Down mostraron un gran interés por el letón y tuvieron curiosidad por aprender algunas palabras. Lo que más les impresionó fue el ver que en Letonia también hay muchas playas pero que, a diferencia de las de Gran Canaria, están la mayor parte del tiempo cubiertas de nieve. También conocieron la moneda de Letonia.

Los siguientes en escena fueron las griegas y los griegos. Tras presentarse, mostraron imágenes de paisajes de Grecia y hablaron sobre diferentes aspectos de la civilización griega. Las personas con síndrome de Down quedaron muy sorprendidas e hicieron preguntas, ya que querían saber más acerca de Grecia, su historia y su mitología. Para terminar, bailaron todas y todos juntos el syrtaki, un baile tradicional griego. ¡Fue muy divertido!

Y por último, pero no por ello menos importante, el grupo de Armenia presentó su país y su historia. Una de las preguntas que tuvieron que contestar fue cómo de lejos está Armenia. Disfrutamos de un pequeño recorrido por el país a través de su música tradicional y mediante vídeos de paisajes.

La tarea de las personas con síndrome de Down fue presentar las Islas Canarias, algo que se habían preparado con anterioridad. Su presentación fue muy bonita y vino muy bien para que las y los participantes conocieran un poco más de cerca los impresionantes paisajes de estas islas.

Y para terminar, cantamos todos juntos una canción muy representativa de Canarias: “Vivo en un archipiélago”.

Tanto las y los participantes como las personas con síndrome de Down disfrutaron de una experiencia muy agradable y nadie quería que una mañana tan especial llegara a su fin. Pero por la tarde tuvieron la oportunidad de verse de nuevo, ¡esta vez para jugar a los bolos! Se formaron tres grupos formados tanto por participantes como por personas con síndrome de Down. Fue una experiencia inolvidable.

A las personas con síndrome de Down que participaron les encantó esta actividad y su sonrisa fue la mejor recompensa.

Tras esta lección tan importante acerca del voluntariado, ¡el voluntariado habrá ganado nuevas manos!

¡Estamos ansiosos por disfrutar de más días así!

Texto en inglés: Kostas, Georgia and Hará – AEGEE-Peiraias
Traducción: Héctor Oliva Bolaños – AEGEE-Las Palmas

Fotos: Jonás Oliva Bolaños

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First impressions (EN)

From the roots to the fruits...
What does this mean? That another amazing AEGEE event has just started!

A group of 6 Armenian, 7 Greeks, 7 Latvians and a lot of motivated Spanish people gathered in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria to take part in a special event, an event about volunteering. The main purpose of this event is to raise awareness of different types of volunteering.

The first day began with a visit to a Down Syndrome centre ( where we had the opportunity to get in contact with Down Syndrome people. It was not just a centre which just organizes some extra activities for them, but a place where they could discover their own potentials and develop their capacities for the labour market.

At first, they introduced themselves and told us some things about their personality and their activities. The most impressive fact was when they talked about their dreams and their future plans. It was really touching listening to people with Down Syndrome trying to achieve their goals. Be sure they will manage to integrate into the society.

Afterwards, the Latvians presented their country and talked about their climate, the Latvian language, their culture and their traditions. The Down Syndrome people were really interested in Latvian language and they wanted to learn some words. What really impressed them was that in Latvia there are many beaches as well but, in contrast to Gran Canaria, they are most of the time covered with snow. What's more, they got to know the LAT, the Latvian currency.

Then, the Greeks appeared on stage. After introducing themselves, they showed pictures of landscapes and many aspects of the Greek civilization. Aside from this, the Down Syndrome people were amazed, so they started to make questions and wanted to know more about Greek history and mythology. At the end, they danced all together "Syrtaki" -a traditional Greek dance- and they had a lot of fun!

Last but not least, the Armenians introduced as well their country and their history. Questions about how far Armenia is were raised. We actually had a short "trip" to Armenia by listening to traditional music and watching videos of their landscapes.

And the task of the Down Syndrome people was to talked about the Canary Islands. They had previously prepared a very nice presentation which was great for the participants to know a little bit more about the amazing landscapes of these islands.

Finally, we had the opportunity to sing all together a very representative song from the Canary Islands "Vivo en un archipiélago..."

Both participants and Down Syndrome people had a very nice experience and we were very sad that this pleasant morning had come to an end. But in the afternoon we met again for a bowling game! We were divided in three teams consisted both from us and Down Syndrome people. It was an unforgetable experience.

Down Syndrome people were really excited about this activity and their smile was the best prize we could get!

After this significant lesson of volunteering, we are sure that at the end of this event the volunteering will have won many new and motivated active members!

We are looking forward for the next fascinating days!

Kostas, Georgia and Hará - AEGEE-Peiraias

Pictures: Jonás Oliva Bolaños