It’s February 21, 7:00 in the morning. The sun is just starting to find its way through the morning fog, painting the hills bright white. Serban and I are on our way to Tricarico. Discussing the similarities and differences of the German, the Romanian and the Italian languages, the 2-hours bus ride feels really short. As we arrive in the small picturesque town, we are greeted by Birgit and lots of sunshine. We have been invited to talk to the pupils of a local school about the possibilities of Erasmus+ and EVS by Mariagrazia, a very committed girl who grew up here. She explains to us, that this isn’t a region for young people and thus 80% of them go away. That is the reason why Mariagrazia developed together with young people of this region and the organisation “Generazione Lucana” a dossier called: “Politiche giovanili in Basilicata 2019-2027”. In this dossier they collected problems as well as possible solutions concerning this problem. When Birgit, Serban and I arrive at the school – a little bit late due to our bus -, Maria already started to introduce the pupils to this catalogue and is speaking to them about their opinions regarding this topic. Thankfully no one seems to be upset about the fact that we are late! With a mixture of Italian and English (because sadly my Italian still isn’t that good) Serban and I introduce ourselves and share then some of our personal experiences which we collected during the last weeks. We are talking about problems we had in the beginning, like buying groceries which has been really difficult for me at first because the opening hours of the stores here are pretty much the same as my working hours.
Describing cultural differences, we are noticing how different all our lives are. For me, one of the biggest surprises here in Italy still is how people just park in the roundabout. Serban on the other hand tells us how good the situation especially for young people here is compared to his home. Together with the pupils, we are discussing the doubts and fears they have about leaving your family and your friends to go and live in another country where the food isn’t the same and everyone speaks a language you don’t understand. Birgit explains, which possibilities the European Union offers young people – from going some where for a whole year to participating in a youth exchange for one week, there are a lot of different things to match everyone’s plans and expectations. After answering all the questions that arise, we are playing a game called “step forward if”. While Birgit explains the rules, Serban is giving everybody a character-card which should theoretically remain a secret. Then each person imagines what life would be like if they were that person. I am reading questions like “can you go to the cinema every week?” or “can you choose to do whatever job you want?” out loud and the pupils are realising now how different the opportunities for their characters are. Some are already climbing on top of the teacher’s table, trying to go even further ahead while others are still standing close to the back of the room where they all started their journey together just a few minutes ago.
Waiting for the next bus, we drink coffee and try some local food. We also have the luck that a friend of Maria lives in Tricarico, who offers to show us his city.
Enjoying the beautiful weather, we learn why there are two different types of architecture in the old part of the city, hear the legend of a nun that committed suicide and the story of the traditional carnival. My personal highlight of the tour is what Mariagrazia calls jokingly “the wonder of Tricarico”: a fountain in which some goldfish are living. At three in the afternoon, Serban and I are leaving the bus at the central station in Matera, feeling tired but happy, having experienced a very eventful morning.