A little over a month ago I arrived in Thessaloniki. The passage of time is different here: it seems to me that the days are passing quickly, but at the same time I feel that I have been here for a long time, forever.
I liked the city right away. In some ways it reminds me a lot of my Bologna: not too big and not too small, lively and varied. I had never lived in a city by the sea and I am happy to be able to enjoy it with long walks: the pier is one of my favorite parts of the city. And I also love the large number and variety of bars, bakeries, restaurants, taverns, etc. that there are; and it’s all so cheap! So far, the typical taverna starters and the sweet and savory bougatse have impressed more than the rest.
Our new house has everything we need to live well. But what makes it special are the people who live there: with some volunteers I have bonded more than with others, but in general I have found real friends, not just flatmates and colleagues. With them, in fact, I went on fantastic weekend trips and explored the beautiful Samothrace, one of the most unique islands I have ever seen. There it feels like being in a world apart, it feels like not being touched by the problems of the world, the commitments and the hectic life that touches everyone every day.
Finally, I am really happy with the project I was given, at House of Arsis; I could not expect or ask for anything better. It is a shelter where unaccompanied minors, from 5 or 6 years old to 18 years old, live. Most of them are immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers who, for some reason, have been separated from their families on their difficult and often terrible journey to get here, but Greek children and young people are also taken in. We spend free and relaxing moments with them, choosing together leisure activities or simply chatting, and we organise small courses for them (at the moment we are doing an Italian course and an English course); moreover, we are always included in the activities organised by the educators of the centre and in what the children and young people decide to do on their own; some of the older ones, for example, spend a lot of time cooking and are always enthusiastic to let us taste their typical dishes. I find it wonderful how they seek the memory of their homeland through food and I am always very curious to discover their flavours. With Anita, the other Italian volunteer who is with me at the shelter, I get on very well, both in everyday life and at work: I think we complement each other perfectly. In short, I feel very included, both by the children and by those who work there; I love being surrounded by all these different faces, sounds and cultures and I like to think that I am contributing to this project. It’s becoming a bit like a second home.