Arts Lab 5.0: Carla Ditmeyer, Bolivia - Final Report

And here I am, writing my last report thinking that everything that happened during these 6 months was only a dream. The best thing about it is that this wasn’t a dream, and all the people that I met during this amazing period of my life were as real as the world itself. I think I still need time to process everything that happened and how happy it made me.

The last month was chaotic for sure. I remember on my last day while eating my breakfast, I started to randomly cry when my brain realized at that moment it was my last time doing my usual routine. It made me so sad that I couldn’t stop my tears and my inner soul that wanted to scream because I got attached; very attached.

This project gave me so many things that I cannot even start naming one of them. This project made me realize what I hold very dearly to my heart, and that’s people. Probably something that really touched my soul was the vision of my coordinator which was connecting people through art. I find my professional journey very complicated to be honest; every time someone asked me what I wanted to do in my life, what was the professional path I wanted to take, I never knew exactly what to answer because I knew it was something related to art because I like expressing myself that way, but I also liked culture so much in a sense that I wanted to make it accessible to everyone. In that same pattern, I wanted to help especially my country to develop our artistic richness and give a space for people. But before knowing about organizations or anything, many people told me that the things I wanted to do weren’t possible, that it was too much and I should just focus on one topic, otherwise I wouldn’t be successful. That was nothing further than the truth because I can say I saw it with my own eyes, I saw change through art happening in front of my eyes. It doesn’t mean it was easy, but I saw it happening and now even knowing the difficulties, I finally know what I want to do in my life. One of the moments I felt more decisive was in Moldova, in a village called Puhăceni where I saw a real willingness to change. They painted with kids some of the parts of the little village, and with that little stain of color and the way the kids were so interested in the workshops and that urge they needed to learn and express was when I found a true call inside of my heart. Because I could see the future, I could see how Puhăceni could be full of color, full of life, full of expression, music, dance, paintings paired with the nice souls of the people. I saw it so clear and that’s when I knew what I wanted to do. We also met Anna, a woman that had the same vision as us so within Mihaela and Anna as guides, I felt really in my bones what I wanted to do.

For a part there’s that, but this whole experience and all my knowledge nowadays wouldn’t be existing if it wasn’t for the people. I have to admit that maybe being a teacher is not something for me. But talking with young people, knowing a bit of their world, their thoughts, their feelings was also something that changed my perspective of the world. I have to say that life sometimes feels like a prison of our own thoughts, our own lives and everything that is happening currently to us. I underestimated the fact of the exchange. The exchange of words can actually be a change of worlds, a quick swap that can make you travel through so many existences and just explore new worlds that you may not encounter possible. I loved every single moment like that; the students were so kind and whether they opened themselves a lot or not much, I could see that by talking or doing the activity, a little bit of our worlds changed. Shout out also to all the queer people that I met along the way and that unfortunately I cannot say their names for security reasons. As I said before and as I would repeat, they are revolutionaries just by existing, thank you for your trust and I hope I made you feel safe being who you are. These people for example really changed me and inspired me so much, I hope they know that or at least feel it in their hearts. I had so much fun during the workshops, even though some of them were hard or we were tired, I enjoyed sharing what I know and learning even more with all of the kids we met. It was such a beautiful experience, so intense but something that I will appreciate forever as I said. I wish I could tell all Romania how in love I am with their culture, with the people and how easy it was for me to call it a second home. I’m so grateful for everything we had the chance to learn, to experience, all the food, the music, the dances, everything that should be so appreciated because I want to talk about it forever. Romania is beautiful and rich, If someone says the opposite I have so many arguments to just defend to my core this amazing country and culture. That's why the themes of the museums are so on point, we were able to know this place in a different and profound way and I’m so happy about it.

Last but not least, I want to talk about my friends, my family, the people I will love forever. It was so funny how every day I knew something more about them and all the interesting conversations I had with all of them. Before this project, as I said, I found myself very lost in who I was, not only in career but also in what meant to be myself. In a very personal matter, I didn’t like myself and because of that I wasn't able to create a close bond with many people; I didn't let myself do it. But, I don’t know what happened in that house, I felt like my purest self there, the real me. And what the real me wanted was to listen and to know all these people, to know their past, their thoughts on the world, what they liked and disliked. Before this project, I felt shy out of fear, but in this house, what happened inside of me was that I felt more love than fear. I was able to dance, scream, cry, laugh, all of it next to people that made me feel so secure; they made me feel more love than I ever felt in my life. We lived through so much, and after so many emotions, I can say that the place that represents home the most for me in this time on earth is wherever they are; they are home. Sena, Hassan, Muhammed, Raph, Dajana, Ahmed, Violeta, Hajer, Olha, Aliye, and Rafael, all of them represent my purest sense of love and will forever be “casita” for me. It’s so hard to know that I left a piece of me in that house, in these people; it’s the price someone has to pay for finding happiness in a country that is not yours. I will forever feel that something is missing, but I don’t care, because that piece of my heart will be there forever. Probably in every report, there’s the kitchen mentioned, and it’s because the best moments and conversations of my life happened there. In that place, talking with any of them, I forgot a world even existed; it was only us and probably a tea and something to eat.

This project changed my life, and I hope I will never forget any detail of it. Thank you, Mihaela, for changing our lives and the lives of many others. Thank you to Art Lab 5.0.

Carla Wara Ditmeyer Queteguari is from Bolivia, and she did five-month volunteering program within Arts Lab 5.0, a project co-funded by the European Union through the European Solidarity Corps.


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