Their homes are taken, their future not!

Yes, my dear friends you guessed it right, another Erasmus+ program for me! This time I traveled to the island of Chios, Greece for a program developed by the Greek NGO ‘Horizons for Youth’.  Participating countries: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Lithuania,  Spain and Turkey.

“Their homes are taken, their futures not” was the title of the program and its subject matter was about the refugee crisis. The Greek islands in the eastern Aegean Sea are a station for refugees and migrants wanting to reach the rest of the continental Europe. Chios was a perfect place to observe and discuss the situation.

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Καλώς Ήρθατε στη Χίο! = Welcome to Chios island!

We discussed the conditions in each of our respective countries and the history of refugees in our countries. The legalities of obtaining a refugee status. How the laws restrict these people from wanting to reach one country and flee the other. The combination of the economic crisis and the refugee crisis and how that affects the local economies and tourism. The European agreements about refugees. The Christian vs Muslim issue. And so many more subjects as they arose as days went by…

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On the island we met both sites. Refugees traveling through the war zones of Syria, rough terrain, and wild seas to get to safety. Refugees or rather migrants (from Algeria, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc.) travelling through terrible conditions and giving all their life’s savings to smugglers in order to get to Europe and to a better life. Last but not least we met the islanders, Chios’ original residents. All living together on an island filled with conflicted feelings!

Understanding, fear, resentment, empathy, anger, compassion, sympathy, bitterness, consideration, annoyance, appreciation, irritation, displeasure, relief, love and hate…

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Souda Camp: Refugees in waiting for their asylum petitions to be investigated by authorities and the Court are in a status of stasis from 1 month to 1 year… Not being allowed to work (the conditions after Greece’s economic crisis don’t support that either for residents nor refugees), they stay all day in the camp or wonder around the city streets, sitting in the parks… Some don’t like to stay idle and they volunteer for the NGOs in the camps, they go fishing, they do sports…  Life in waiting is very hard!

We had the chance to visit the refugee camp at Souda, the smallest of the two on the island and also the unaccompanied children’s house. Moreover, we talked to the residents of the camp about their journeys and hardships, about their lives then and now and their future hopes.We also had the chance to meet with the managing NGO and the vice Mayor of Chios and discuss with them. Additionally, according to the project’s activities we had to talk to locals and interview them about the situation on the island, the problems they face, their fears and hopes and also the ways they face the future.

But in these youth exchange projects we also need to get to know each other. So we organized cultural nights with food and drinks from our respective countries. We chatted with each other during lunches and coffee brakes and partied together all through the nights… And lastly we had some free time to visit the beauties of the Island of Mastiha, the incredible Chios!!

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Now, back at home my thoughts and feelings are in a chaotic status… Glad to be back with my own people, sad to have left behind all the new and wonderful friends, hopeful that the refugee crisis will resolve, sad about the condition of the human spirit…

As humans we find it difficult to accept the unknown, the strange, the different… even if we have been in the same condition in the past… even if at heart we really want to help, after some time has passed it is easy to get used to the bad things around us, adapt and start complaining! This is the human condition and it has been such since the beginning and it will continue to be exactly the same in the future. Let us just hope that the examples that confirm this condition will be more and more over time… that people who don’t look each other as colour, as religion, as place of birth, as economic status will become in time the majority…

I hope that HUMANITY will prevail the Human Condition!

Untill the next time

Be good to one another

M.

Euro Clay Carnival 2016 Athens

OK people I told you I was new at this!! This article was supposed to be up two weeks ago, but obviously I messed up! So here it is now…

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For days I have been trying to find the right way to describe my feelings about this exceptionally organized event. Then I realized that if you are not there you will never feel the same excitement, you will never have the same ideas floating around in your head, and you will not form the same bonds with all the new and old friends from around the world.

ecc_2702_2So I decided to just give my dues to the people who deserve it first. The organizing team! The people that worked tirelessly to prepare the clay for our classes, to make the arrangements for our registrations, to make sure nothing was amiss during the classes and make sure all the attendees were content and comfortable. Thank you Gabi and Maddalena and Fotini and Maria and Manuela, you were irreplaceable and amazing!

And then let us talk about the instructors. The six lovely and unique ladies that traveled from around the world to bring to us the lights of their knowledge, their smiles and good humor, to share their imagination and hard work, give us their techniques and little bits of wisdom, that will make our work more easy and fun!

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DONNA KATO  “La Donna” of clay!

Donna Kato is not just the name behind the brand; she is also a charismatic artist, author and a brilliant teacher! Showing of her Ethos, she starts by addressing the great Judith Skinner and how her idea about color blending changed our polymer clay world. Patient and with steady hands she showed us the ways of sculpting and cutting the clay into beautiful geometrical shapes and combining them in accordance to a classic color scheme. Black – white – red!

I loved her way of teaching and her unexpected genuine humor!

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BETTINA WELKER the curly haired Goddess of design!

Space, color, shapes and composition! With a background in graphic design Bettina has the apt mind to address her unique design styl
e. Every piece of jewelry she makes is recognizable by sight! Also her perspective on constructing a piece of jewelry is unique. The bracelet design that she instructed was detailed, every single piece had a purpose and did not just look pretty.

JANA ROBERTimag0405S BENZON the color in her eyes…

A magical class… You might imagine how it is made or not, but you will definitely be surprised! I have used alcohol inks before and worked in similar
techniques but the concept of it all it is mind blowing!!

It was a very refreshing class and provided me with an unimaginative for me way of constructing a jewelry with so much movement and lightness.

 

SYLVIE PERAUD usefulness and elegance!Sylvie.JPG

Sylvie has a subtle way of mischievousness! She will get you when you list
expect it and she did get us! She found use in recyclable materials and used them in her design process in order to make her piece of art more refined in structure and elegance.

She opened our minds into shading, small details and patience in creating…

EVA HASKOVA circling around beauty! imag0426

With the speed of light and with nimble fingers Eva inspired us with the sheer beauty of the skinner blend and the simplicity of a circle!

How simple things and techniques can look amazing? How careful consideration in construction and sizes can improve your design?

Attend a class with Eva and your questions will be answered!

I always had a fascination with circles. I always thought of them as the perfect shape. Eva added to my craziness! I see circles everywhere!!

GABI SIMIGDALA the natural beautygabi

Her way of replicating natural looking coral, stone and decayed metal is almost up to perfection!

She took into consideration the weigh, the natural shades of colour and discoloration and created a class worthy of any! Taking care of the basics and the difficult, the delicate and rougher aspects of nature Gabi took us on a journey on a magical beach and brought us back with a lovely, sea relic necklace!

And last but not least the brilliant participants of the event! Each and every one I thank you for your generosity, your good spirits, your swap gifts, your laughter and most of all your friendship! I was fascinated by your ideas. I was and inspired by your creativeness. I was honored by your friendship! See you soon my dears!

Till the next time, be good to one another!

M.