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REFUGEE INTEGRATION: A DECADE OF HOPE

During our Coliving & Coworking Retreat in Pontremoli, we got invited to an event on International Refugee Day by our local partners, the Cooperativa Torrano Domani. The “Refugee Integration or” or those seeking asylum in Italy, are essentially pleading for protection from the Italian state.


Once granted protection, they have a chance to enter a center that supports their Refugee Integration, A Decade of Hope and journey through professional training and learning the Italian language. This center becomes a refuge, providing them with food, lodging, and the space to focus on Refugee Integration. It’s a lifeline for those who have fled persecution and uncertainty in their home countries. It’s a lifeline for those who have fled persecution and uncertainty in their home countries. The “Refugee Integration, A Decade of Hope” aspect of this project resonated with me, as it highlights the commitment to empowering individuals, enabling them to navigate the complexities of Italian bureaucracy and find their place in society.


The following week, I sat down to interview the SAI program leader Francesca, who supports asylum seekers in Italy. Having always believed in building bridges between cultures, I was eager to delve into their journey and the impact they had made over the last decade. This – like many of the conversations I had in the past months – would leave me profoundly moved and helped me understand more about the situation of refugees Integration, A Decade of Hope and Integration as well as reflect on my own privileges


Visit to the integration center

THE NATURE OF PLAYFULNESS

Playfulness is in our nature – discovering the way something works by testing and trying, failing and returning, combining and crafting.


CREATIVITY THROUGH PLAY

Through play, we nurture curiosity, we don’t accept things at face value, we dig deeper – we explore learning beyond what we think we know. And by doing so, we invite the body to participate. We switch our senses on. We get our hands dirty and we ‘get into it’.

 

COMBINATORY PLAY AND CREATIVITY

As Maria Popova (founder and author of an inspiring newsletter titled The Marginalian) so aptly writes ‘The task of creative work is to weave something new and wonderful out of the tattered threads of culture and convention. On the enchanted loom of the mind, our memory and experience, our personal histories and cultural histories, interlace into a

particular pattern which only that particular mind can produce — such is the combinatorial nature of creativity.’

In describing the machinery of his own mind, Albert Einstein called this interweaving “combinatory play.” It cannot be willed. It cannot be rushed. It can only be welcomed — Creativity’s task is witnessing the weaving.

 

HEALING THROUGH CREATIVITY

After I allowed myself to express some of my inner stories again through song, poetry, and art, my feeling of being ‘stuck’ slowly shifted. I discovered my fear of not being good enough, of not being competitive to avoid looking better than anybody else, for fear of being seen as arrogant. I worked through much of that, with the help of mentors and coaches. And on the way, I learned that the body keeps the score*.

 

EMBRACING CHANGE AND CREATIVITY

There’s a lot more to share about this creative journey, but I’ll save those stories for when we meet. The point of writing this blog was to let you in on a bit of the themes we will come across in the workation titled Let’s Evolve! , where we invite you to embrace change and evolve. To be aware of your senses and your responses. To allow your body to guide your decisions and to invite creative expression (back) into your life. How often do you allow yourself to play?


PRACTICING RECONNECTION WITH THE SENSES

Learning to reconnect with our senses, and sharpen our awareness is a practise. It’s becoming aware of our coping mechanisms and ‘automated responses’, being curious about them and replacing old habits with other behaviour. You can start practising with us

 

IN THE PURSUIT OF SAFETY: A JOURNEY TO PROTECTION

In the pursuit of safety and protection, asylum seekers in Italy plead for refuge from the Italian state. This quest for protection leads them to a center that supports their integration journey, providing professional training and language learning opportunities. This center becomes a lifeline, offering food, lodging, and the space to focus on integration, and plays a crucial role in helping those who have fled persecution and uncertainty in their home countries. During our Coliving & Coworking Retreat in Pontremoli, we were invited to an event on international refugee day (Refugee Integration A Decade of Hope) by our local partners, the Cooperativa Torrano Domani, and got the chance to learn about the inspiring work of the SAI program, formerly known as SPRAR and part of the Circle Arci organization, dedicated to supporting asylum seekers in Italy. Join us as we delve into their journey and the profound impact they have made over the last decade, shedding light on the challenges and transformations they’ve faced along the way.


A JOURNEY OF A DECADE: REFUGEE INTEGRATION CHALLENGES AND TRANSFORMATIONS

As we delved deeper into the project’s history, I learned that it started in 2014 as a volunteer effort by the ARCI association. However, recognizing the need for a more structured approach, they worked with local entities and government agencies to establish an official project. Over the years, the political landscape has influenced the project’s scope, at times restricting it to supporting only those who have already obtained protection. This limitation is both a success and a challenge, as it means the project can provide dedicated support but also leaves many asylum seekers in limbo in Centers for Extraordinary Reception (CAS).

You might have guessed the journey, Refugee Integration A Decade of Hope to integration is not easy. Asylum seekers in the project undergo professional training, language courses, and other skill-building activities. The process can be slow and resource-intensive, but it is essential for enabling them to become self-sufficient and independent. This aspect of the project resonated with me, as it highlights the commitment to empowering individuals, enabling them to navigate the complexities of Italian bureaucracy and find their place in society.


THE BEAUTY OF TRANSFORMATION: IMPACT ON THE LOCAL COMMUNITY

Perhaps the most heartwarming aspect of this project is its impact on the local community. In the early years, there was resistance from companies and uncertainty among the people of Lunigiana. However, as beneficiaries integrated into the community, stereotypes were dispelled, and a welcoming environment was fostered. It is heartening to see how this project has been a catalyst for change, promoting understanding and acceptance.


LOOKING AHEAD: CELEBRATING A DECADE OF GROWTH AND REFUGEE INTEGRATION

As the project nears its tenth anniversary, the team’s passion and commitment remain unwavering. They look forward to celebrating the journey of transformation with all those whose lives they have touched. It’s a moment to cherish the successes, reaffirm their purpose, and envision a future where diversity is embraced, and bridges between cultures are built stronger than ever.

As I concluded the interview, I couldn’t help but feel a deep sense of admiration for the team and their tireless efforts. Their dedication to supporting asylum seekers and fostering Refugee Integration, A Decade of Hope is a testament to the power of compassion and understanding. This project, which began a decade ago as a small initiative, has grown to become a beacon of hope for those in need. It exemplifies how a small group of individuals can make a significant difference in the lives of others. And in a world that often seems divided, it reminds us of the beauty and strength that lies in embracing diversity and bridging cultures.


YOU CAN LISTEN TO THE COMPLETE INTERVIEW IN ITALIAN WITH ENGLISH SUBTITLES ON OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL:



THE NATURE OF PLAYFULNESS

Playfulness is in our nature – discovering the way something works by testing and trying, failing and returning, combining and crafting.


CREATIVITY THROUGH PLAY

Through play, we nurture curiosity, we don’t accept things at face value, we dig deeper – we explore learning beyond what we think we know. And by doing so, we invite the body to participate. We switch our senses on. We get our hands dirty and we ‘get into it’.

 

COMBINATORY PLAY AND CREATIVITY

As Maria Popova (founder and author of an inspiring newsletter titled The Marginalian) so aptly writes ‘The task of creative work is to weave something new and wonderful out of the tattered threads of culture and convention. On the enchanted loom of the mind, our memory and experience, our personal histories and cultural histories, interlace into a

particular pattern which only that particular mind can produce — such is the combinatorial nature of creativity.’

In describing the machinery of his own mind, Albert Einstein called this interweaving “combinatory play.” It cannot be willed. It cannot be rushed. It can only be welcomed — Creativity’s task is witnessing the weaving.

 

HEALING THROUGH CREATIVITY

After I allowed myself to express some of my inner stories again through song, poetry, and art, my feeling of being ‘stuck’ slowly shifted. I discovered my fear of not being good enough, of not being competitive to avoid looking better than anybody else, for fear of being seen as arrogant. I worked through much of that, with the help of mentors and coaches. And on the way, I learned that the body keeps the score*.

 

EMBRACING CHANGE AND CREATIVITY

There’s a lot more to share about this creative journey, but I’ll save those stories for when we meet. The point of writing this blog was to let you in on a bit of the themes we will come across in the workation titled Let’s Evolve! , where we invite you to embrace change and evolve. To be aware of your senses and your responses. To allow your body to guide your decisions and to invite creative expression (back) into your life. How often do you allow yourself to play?


PRACTICING RECONNECTION WITH THE SENSES

Learning to reconnect with our senses, and sharpen our awareness is a practise. It’s becoming aware of our coping mechanisms and ‘automated responses’, being curious about them and replacing old habits with other behaviour. You can start practising with us

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