Arts Lab 3.0: Fiona O'Neill - Stories of July

In July we had the pleasure of meeting Elena, a retired school teacher who transformed her family home into a museum of traditional Romanian culture. At first she was quite shy to speak with us, feeling the burden of a language barrier and doubting if people from abroad would see the value in such a place.

Fast forward a few hours and we were sitting on Elena’s childhood bed, sharing lemonades and laughing about the story of her first cross-stitch. History can often feel detached and distant, but the story of Elena’s family through the decades gave us such a particular insight into the recent past and made everything feel so much more personal. After all, what is history if not the stories of regular people?

Once again, Romanian hospitality continues to impress and we have yet to visit somebody that hasn’t welcomed us with open arms.

This month we hosted a youth exchange to discuss the topic of single use plastics. The IPCC’s sixth report painted a bleak picture of the climate crisis, and confirmed what many of us already knew to be true - the climate crisis is a direct cause of human activity. Plastic has become so commonplace that it’s almost difficult to imagine life without it, but now more than ever we need to start thinking creatively about what steps we can take to minimise the effects of the climate crisis.

I thought I had quite a good grasp of the situation but I had no idea just how problematic our plastic consumption had become. For example, every week we are ingesting roughly a credit card’s worth of micro-plastic in our food and drinks.

Every time I take out my debit card to pay for something I can feel my stomach tense up a little, looking down at the little plastic rectangle in my hand and knowing that in the last seven days something similar has worked its way through my body.

The youth exchange saw participants from eight different countries come together and brainstorm sustainable solutions for an unsustainable way of living. 

by Fiona O'Neill. 

Fiona is volunteering within Arts Lab 3.0, a project funded by European Solidarity Corps, with the support of European Union.