Potpourri & The Eighteenth Week in Sicily

Why is it that all things become even more beautiful when they are about to come to an end? Is it a rule of life, a philosophical question which, unfortunately, is rhetorical at the same time? A matter of personal perspective? In my case, the answer is a combination of all these, unless somehow it is just 18, my lucky number, … because this week, the eighteenth, was indeed full of wonderful things: English courses, new recruits for Grundtvig workshops and EVS, Argentine tango dance evenings, outings with friends on the seafront, all the good and beautiful things that relished my soul and saddened me at the same time, for the departure time was nearing…

All the hard work at CESV is starting to pay off. That’s because this week I had an important preparation meeting with the president of LUTE Association from Milazzo, Claudio Grazziano, who will host a Grundtvig Assistant next year. Both CESV and Milazzo Association will receive Gundtvig Assistants next November, as it happened in my case, and who will continue my experience, bringing their professional and cultural contribution. I am glad that I supported the candidacies of two girls who will spend the next 6 respectively 8 months in Sicily, and that, together with Claudio, I decided on the major lines of conduct and work, starting with all legal and administrative aspects that proved to be a major headache to Maria Angela and me when I came to Messina. I only regret that I will not be here to work with them, as it is already clear that the two future assistants show great promise and I would have liked to know them.

I am pleased, however, that my experience and Maria Angela`s power of persuasion have had additional benefits and now, at the last minute (for me) we support and coordinate volunteers or senior members of other associations applying for Grundtvig Workshops. This means that the idea of ​​European mobility is slowly taking broader shape and it also proves the usefulness of the “living example” who speaks of the benefits that such European experience gives you a hundredfold.

Even at the English club there seem to be potential recruits for the European Voluntary Service (EVS), the opportunity for young people to shape a beautiful, harmonious personality, to learn the most important values of life ​​in multicultural contexts, in another country, at the same time bringing their volunteer contribution for the benefit of the civil society, of the community to which they belong, of people in general. At the three meetings we had this week we discussed, in English of course, about the benefits of volunteering and of the European experiences, such as EVS or Youth Exchange, from the Youth in Action program, but also about the importance of knowing and assimilating the European values, starting from a common vocabulary that promotes European cultural heritage attributes. I am also pleased with the way the meetings were conducted and the results, not to mention the pleasant and relaxed atmosphere and the company of the people, young and old, whom I will have the pleasure to meet next week, when the course officially ends.

As a counterbalance, the cultural part diversifies day by day and this because of the new friends I  met that night with the Argentine tango flash mob I told you about: Antonio, the dance instructor, and recently, Valerio, also an Argentine tango instructor who is  Antonio`s cheerful half. A phone message asked me to come to Vittorio Emanuele Theatre where was a show organized by Messina Dance Centre that lasted three hours! I didn`t stay to watch it all since it ended at midnight, but I stayed long enough to see children, young people and adults exhibiting their knowledge and skills in ballet, hip hop, tango, modern dance –  a range of ages, colors and energy that met with loud applause from the room overflowing with parents, grandparents, friends. That was for me, who I am so passionate about dance and music, an unexpected and extremely enjoyable event, especially since the focus was Antonio’s dance number, who participated with three Argentine tango dances that I also filmed – I`ll attach only one, if you don`t mind.

And while I was saying to myself that the week was almost over and I should spend the weekend at home, organizing myself a little for the final administrative details, I received another message: “We`re going dancing tonight”. Where? At a private tennis club, on the Messina Riviera, on a terrace where you could see all the nocturnal lights of the Calabrian coast, where tango lovers gather weekly to relax dancing in the sea breeze. Who with? Obviously, Antonio and Valerio, and Suzy and Domenica, two beautiful dancers that I admired all evening for their elegance. I, a photographer at first (because I hadn`t danced Argentine tango before), became then an amateur dancer, willy-nilly, as the boys insisted that I could do it. I have no idea what happened during the dance, I just know that I didn`t step too many times on my partner`s shoes, but otherwise I remember that … I was floating, that my feet were moving and it was like a beautiful dream which I wanted to last forever. The Argentine tango is a gorgeous dance, danced with the heart and your eyes closed, consisting of suites of 4 tangos, 3 milonga and 4 waltzes (I hope I remember the theory that the guys explained to me) but whose elegance and naturalness make it very different from standard Latin American dances. However, all the senses are multiplied by the refined atmosphere and the place itself where dance club members meet and I confess that now, as I`m  writing these lines, I keep thinking about that splendid evening ….that I hope I`ll live it again!

However, the plans for the last week before my vacation sound very promising and I hope they will come through, even if it is going to be a busy week with a lot of administrative work for the final stage. It seems like now, more than ever, I want to take full advantage of everything around me, I fill my eyes with as much as I can take back home to remind me of these places and these wonderful people that I met here, in another corner of the world …

Tango with Antonio and Ilaria Di Bernardo on the stage of Vittorio Emanuele Theatre:


 Translated by prof. Irina Bicescu – Potpourri member