Meeting in Reading
The story began on 14th of May when groups of six people met at the airports of respective cities: Rome, Gijon and Warsaw, holding flight tickets to London. A couple hours later they all arrived to Reading – town 60 km west of London, where Jane Austen went to school and a century later Oscar Wilde was imprisoned. It was not, however, the main goal of the travelers, but their willingness to participate in the last workshop within Erasmus+ project “Innovative methods of Adult education for the Future of Europe” hosted by RealTime organization who chose RISC - which means Reading International Solidarity Centre for the place of the first meeting. In a Global Café which is opened there are served traditional Ethiopian dishes which we’d have a possibility to try later. For now, all are engaged in conversations with RealTime staff or stakeholders who were also invited to take a chat with Erasmus+ participants or regular visitors whose attention was caught by such a huge group. If you could be there, then you’d definitely felt that open-minded atmosphere in the air. But as everything has its end, the meeting was over in order to be continued tomorrow.
Next day in the morning we took our promenade to South Street 21 where the workshop should start. We had a short introduction to theory and history of visual story making and then started practicing expressing our feelings with help of white paper sheets and markers.
Directly after workshops we followed the hosts who were leading us to the Rising Sun Arts Centre where the participants of Zap Project were already waiting. Zap Project joins people with learning disabilities who were preparing to give a tricks show and we were going to become the first public who would’ve ever seen that! Nobody knew how the tricks were done – astonishment could be seen on every face of those present. We continued with screening and discussing films made by so called “mental health group” which was very important, especially for our Polish group – having in mind that we act in the same field. That was the first, but not the last time we’ve visited the Rising Sun.
Next day we’ve met at the same time and at the same place, keeping the same goal, but changing class room to another one. We all knew that today we’d have a chance to use the knowledge we have gained yesterday in practice and now it’s not us, but young people who are going to tell their stories – using not English which they recently started to learn in college, but with help of different kind of language. Each group had their own ideas and approach – somebody used stickers with prepared “actions” which can be chosen; some asked to show pictures on their phones and by this telling a story. After the most essential part of the workshop was over and youngsters left it was time for discussing, sharing experiences and opinions. This session gave us a great opportunity to experience working using storytelling method in group of migrants.
The most active part of the whole week was ahead – a study visit to organization Nature Nurture, and because their field of action is in open air we mixed business with pleasure. We started with listening to a short description of goals and activities of the organization and continued with gathering branches and garbage in the forest which was more like a quest – someone could possibly call it gamification because at the end for us were waiting marshmallows, hot drinks and a small bonfire which we built on our own. The nature-filled time was finished by sharing the opinions about that activity.
On the fourth day in Berkshire we had it planned to visit The Madejski Stadium where ongoing project “Kickz” takes place – its goal is to engage in sport activities young people, who would otherwise be difficult to reach. We met trainers and social inclusion officers at the same time, whose engagement had its expression in the way they were talking about their supervisees. For some of us it was also a huge experience – who had not dreamed about becoming a famous football player in childhood?
We returned to South Street from the stadium in order to start new group activities – that time in order to try our hand in mapping Reading. Firstly we were asked to draw own map – it was a brilliant opportunity to compare our perception of the same environment. For the next task we were given pictures with some sights and cameras. We should’ve created our own map, or rather a route to a certain place, but the main rule of the activity was not to use English – in order to feel yourself in newcomers’ shoes. The next day we were presenting our results – some groups made it easy, some create a whole story with one key-traveler, some concentrated on icons and small details making it rather a quest, but everybody had a different approach.
In the evening we were invited to RISC to have a final dinner – at the place we met five days ago. For us in the Rising Sun it was scheduled a screening of a movie filmed during this week, combined with the Rising Sun and Real Time initiative called StandUp Cinema screening locally made videos. It was a perfect time for sharing impressions in a less formal atmosphere. Next morning we summarized everything by doing a short evaluation session.
In that way we spent our five days in Reading, on our last workshop organized within Erasmus+ project “Innovative methods of Adult Education for the Future of Europe”.
And on Saturday it was the Royal Wedding…