Arts Lab Report: Coincidence, or not?

Cold May. Unpredictable, full of surprises, meanwhile, amazingly beautiful. Every passing day is a proof of something we ignore while we are blindly rushing through daily life. It is called, "coincidence". Every second, there are million possibilities to change our way, the path we are on, our lives. Sometimes ignoring only one word can drag us to a completely different situation. That's the main thought I discovered this month. Letting things happen.

The days of May were full of events. First difference was writing an EU project, which was the first experience for all the team. With the encouragement of Mihaela, we started to think, design, and write a Youth Exchange. It was quite hard in the beginning, but later on it turned a great team work, and a new experience. After writing my masters thesis, I wasn't expecting to be into research, fitting into writing plans, and spending time in front of the computer the whole day. Well, I think it won't be true if I say I didn’t like it. This experience taught me how hard it is to manage projects, with all those details and ideas. At the same time it is really beautiful to be able to do something good for the youth based on their needs, for the youth from all over Europe.

In the second week of May, we started our On Arrival Training, which was supposed to be an event organized in Bucharest, including every volunteer and trainer in Romania. But due to the pandemi, and the fact that it is impossible right now to organize that kind of big event, it happened online. We were looking forward to meeting other people, wondering their stories like how and where they live, what kind of volunteering they do, etc. Well, we found out somehow, it wasn't like we expected. In Zoom, in seperate groups, there were around 20 people and 2 trainers. For almost 10 days, we spent half a day in front of the computer, looking at the tiny faces, without physical contact. 

We have learnt about Erasmus+, European Solidarity Corps, aspects and objectives of the projects and exchanges, Youthpass, roles of the organizations. At the same time, we spoke about cultural differences, personal development and team building. I enjoyed the most the day we spoke about Romania and its culture. 

With the participation of other volunteers, we prepared an Action Bound for each city we live in. It was really nice to design a game about Târgu Frumos. We did it as a team and learnt something new about the city we live in for months. Other things I loved from the meetings were the times when trainers divided us to small groups and let us speak about various topics in different chat rooms. This way, we had a chance to meet the volunteers individually and those small digital faces got a little more clear. We enjoyed doing homeworks together with them, sharing ideas and so on. That is why in the end of the online training, we were emotional, anyway we met some beautiful people all around Romania, and promised to keep in touch for future meetings. 

While we were getting closer and closer to the days of summer, the weather seemed quite confused. It was really cold and mostly raining a lot. After the hot days while we were in lockdown, being able to go out after the 15th May but seeing this kind of spring, was a little sad. But still we were enjoying going to the hills around, even if it was raining.

When we arrived the third week of the month, right after the Training was finished, we organized a trip to one of the most beautiful towns I’ve ever been to: Cucuteni. The first time I heard the name of that beautiful village was the time when I was an intern in Poland, four years ago. I was chatting with one of the technicians in the studio and he was telling me that there is a really important ceramic area nearby, in Romania, and there is a symposium he follows every year. Somehow, I couldn't manage to apply for the symposium that year, or even to visit, but I was impressed about the stories he told me, and wondered why I never heard the name of that place before. I couldn't imagine that I will be able to see it with my own eyes one day, a beautiful day that I will never forget. 

We went to the village by car, six people. First we stop by the hills near the museum, go up and rest a bit next to the ancient style clay cabins. We passed by the gorgeous sculptures which were made by artists during a symposium. Later on, we walked to Băiceni, the place where the organization has a house they ran a project before. After visiting the house, we hit the road to the other house, also the studio of Ionela, the artist lives and works in Cucuteni. The house itself was the most beautiful one I’ve ever seen. We learnt that she built everything by herself, each corner of the place was amazingly impressive for me. We stayed there a while and spoke with her, collected information about her ceramics, the projects she has been doing during the previous years. That moment I realized she was the person I heard about four years ago in Poland, and immediately my mood got down, because this year she won't be able to run the symposium. A moment that I called myself unlucky again, well, I would be able to see that I am kind of lucky in the meantime later on. This is another story I guess.

After that impressive trip to Cucuteni, I started to be really productive. The ideas were flying all around my mind, and I was quite excited about the things I’ll be able to do here in the next period. Actually, my mood in general was helping me a lot. There were some beautiful things going on in my life and after a long time, I found myself positive and peaceful all the time. I took the advantage and started creating.

Meanwhile, we had a small trip to the Jewish cemetery for Eliana’s future project. We found ourselves in a different neighborhood, an almost abandoned place, full of history. Before, we stopped by ‘the craft museum’ which is a personal museum that a professor has created. There were lots of impressive objects in such a small room, from traditional clothes to old newspapers of Târgu Frumos. It was really great to see someone cared about the collective history of this city and tried to keep all the information alive.

Mihaela asked us to organize some workshops based on different non formal learning methods and try them between us before we will be interacting with locals. My part was about drama and theatre, mostly using clay. Here there are, my two passions, one is the thing I’ve been into for 10 years, and the other is the new talent I discovered recently. I combined them in a way, and started writing my workshops based on drama methods which prepare you to the stage. The next level was to create a puppet theatre. After the guys's workshops, I presented mine, the first one which was based on the drama methods. I started with a brief explanation, after I ran the workshop. We played some drama games, and since the topic was the Cucuteni culture, the games included the history of the place. Finally, I divided my colleagues into 2 groups and gave them stories I wrote, and wanted them to play a short scene. It was really amazing to see how they had fun! With this experience I can say that I will enjoy doing this kind of workshops with local kids and youngsters later on.

I wrote that too many beautiful things were going on in my life. I think being able to see the coincidences and reading the messages through them helped me a lot to shape my path. I was feeling like the more I see what is going on, and how gorgeous that is, the more positivity I was dragging into my life, and the more beautiful things were happening. It was totally nonsense to complain about the crisis, or even about the daily negativities, because I saw clearly that when I am positive and excited about the moment, something good was rising from the case I called ‘unlucky’.

Written by Deniz Ataman

Deniz is European volunteer for 8 months, in Arts Lab 2.0 project,  funded by European Solidarity Corps, with the support of European Union.


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