April has been a very beautiful month for me. As always, Spring gets me in a very good and energetic mood and I have tried to absorb all the vitamin D that Thessaloniki could grant me.
The more I am here, the more I feel attached to this city and to some particular spots that have quickly become “my corners”. I have enjoyed spending time with my flatmates and friends. Most people I met are international and it is always so interesting to share our different experiences and our different backgrounds.
My flatmates David and Ginevra harassing a cat in Ano Poli
I have the impression that during this month I could reflect a bit more deeply on some of the aspects related to my work at the House of Arsis. In particular, I created deeper bonds with the children and with the teenagers and I have shared some really precious moments. I will never forget the poems that one of the older girls wrote and shared with me, or when the other two girls I give English classes to opened up with me and shared parts of their history. I feel very grateful that they trusted me and I found myself trying to do anything in my capacity to be a good ear and a good shoulder. Of course it is very challenging emotionally, but I think it is very important to always show empathy to the fullest. It is mandatory in order to realize the world we live in and to challenge all the structural injustice from below, with little acts of humanity.
Gardening outside at the House of Arsis
For example, we started a little comic book club with some of the teenage girls who are very talented at drawing. We are trying to write and draw a little graphic novel that puts together each girl’s short story. I was absolutely mind blown when I asked each of them to talk about some social issues they would like to address in their stories. From gender inequality to mental health, they showed such a deep sensitivity and understanding of the world around them and of their inner world as well. I felt like giving them the space to explore some thematics that are close to their hearts and also to channel them into art has the potential to be therapeutic and creative at the same time. I am looking forward to seeing some of their stories develop and take form into drawings.
Our “comic book club” editorial meeting
Finally, in April I started going to the shelter for unaccompanied minors in Pylaia once a week. The environment is quite different from the House of Arsis, the first project I joined since I arrived in Thessaloniki. In Pylaia, there are only teenage boys, who are more independent and obviously interact in a different way than children. I have had such fun with them honestly, it feels like going to one big family and they are all very funny. I have started giving one on one English to three of them and it is very rewarding for me as all of them are so motivated to learn. I am so looking forward to getting to know them better and helping them with their language skills!