This was my first international exchange. When I gave my agreement to partecipate, the project was still in progress and I hadn’t had enough information about “Comenius”, so, even though I was happy to have this opportunity, I had some doubts and uncertainties.
As the 14 of April was getting closer, my curiosity about this exchange increased more and more.
When the “D-Day”came, I didn’t even know what my expectations from this project were. For the first time I was supposed to have, as a guest, a foreigner in my house. I was puzzled because I had been matched with an African boy instead of a Finnish. I was having an exchange with Africa or with Finland?
Gift Sozela , my guest is the eldest of the Finnish group of students. He is 28 years old, 12 years older than me!!! I was wondering if it was worth taking part in this experience, if it was worth working twice as much during the 10 days of the exchange. In fact we were supposed to work harder also in the afternoons.
For that reason on April 14 I was still a little bit uncertain. Gift and I had not spoken much on Moodle, so I was wondering what sort of person he might be. At least I didn’t have problems at the airport at recognizing him. He was the only black skinned among the Finnish people. When , for the first time, he smiled at me and he asked me: “are you Marco?” I don’t know why, I started to speak English whitout any fear. I think I was very lucky to host my partner. I can say that Gift is an unique, a fantastic, a delightful person. We have spoken a lot during the week we spent together. Malawi, his country, had been an English colony for a long time. Therefore, people in Malawi drive on the left and speak English as an official language and they speak Chichewa as a second official language.
Gift is bilingual and he studies at Outukumpu college in English. From the point of view of the communication he had no problem. My family and I have tried to give him our warmth and affection and at the same time, Gift brought “the sun” into our house. During the suppers and in the evenings we have spoken a lot about our countries and our dreams as two brother do. Now I can say that I have a brother in Finland.
It is almost a year since Gift left his country, and in 2011 he will have the test which will allow him to obtain an International licence. After the certificate he would like to go back to Malawi, to return to his family and his girlfriend. He would like to open a cinema. The evenings spent together,and the exchange of our points of views and ideas are unforgettable! We sang together the songs of his church during the “Sunday off”.
The topic of our exchange was “beauty in the eye of the beholder”. I must say that at the beginning it wasn’t very clear what we were supposed to do during the workshops. In spite of everything, the kindness and the preparation of Merya, Pilvi and Eine have helped us to feel at ease. The five topics we worked on were: “beauty in history”, “ethnic beauty”, “everyday beauty (subjective) versus stereotyped beauty”, “beauty in art” and “the beauty of nature”. During the workshops, our group, the yellow team, worked well. Even if we had lots of ideas, in the end we had to focus only on one topic. We made a short video on the subject of ethnic beauty, very concise but extremely effective. Working together was really exciting.
Thanks to the workshops I made friends with the Finnish group. I found out that we have so different lifestyles!! I feel a lot of gratitude to all them. For example I would like to thank Aku, for his talkativeness, and Ida for her loveliness. I found her explanations about how to use the camera really interesting. I feel the need to thank every single person taking part in for this fantastic , amazing, unique experience.
At the end of the exchange I found myself with a whole bag of new good feelings and I can affirm that also my English has improved a little bit. Ten days passed really fast. It was very sad to say goodbye to our new friends. We’ll meet again in October in Finland. It’s exactly 5 months and 3 days to October. I’ve already started the count down!!!!
Gift now is studing in Finland…so far from Venice. I miss him. We keep in touch using the e-mail. He told me that this summer he might go to Malawi to make a documentary. I hope he will be able to fulfill his dreams. I hope he will have “the time of his life”!!
Finland I’m coming!
by Marco Bora