Project week #4: Sciacca
The fourth project week of S4T took place in Sciacca, Italy. We all arrived on Sunday, 25th Nov. 2012, and left on Friday, 30th Nov. 2012.
This is our photo gallery of this project meeting:
S4T in Italy (photo gallery)
And here is a movie slideshow of selected pictures:
Stay in Sciacca: A diary
When we arrived in Palermo, we were met at the airport by Sciacca coordinator Rosaria Gallerano and her team (Giusy Chiarello, Domenica Gennaro and others) and taken to the bus for a scenic drive to Sciacca. There the host families were already waiting for us and we were at once “adopted” and made to feel very welcome in their homes.
What a welcome in the morning, at the IISS “Don Michele Arena”! We were all just blown away by the “pomp and circumstance” of the reception by headmistress Gabriella Bruccoleri. Pupils and staff surrounded the entrance and the central space in the lobby, where a huge “Comenius” sign was hung up, together with a European flag and many other posters that were evidence of the fact that the school community had spent a lot of time, energy and creativity on showing their enthusiasm for the project and the European Union in general.
At the beginning, everybody stood in a circle, holding hands and singing along with the national anthems that were played on a sound system, finishing off with the European anthem from Beethoven’s 9th symphony. Then there was delicious food and time for chatting and getting to know each other a little.
After that, we were driven to the theatre “Badia Grande” in the town centre, for our first unit of the drama workshop. There we met Liz Mitchell, who was to be our theatre director and trainer for this week.
We did some warm-up exercises to lose our inhibitions and get to know each other better; one of the exercises was a kind of game where we were to imagine that we were on board the sinking “Titanic”, and we were in a position to decide who would get a place in one of the lifeboats - depending on the information we were given on the individual passengers. It was fascinating to see how a person’s looks or information about their job or previous behaviour influenced our decisions. So it was a great preparation for the topic of prejudice.
Around noon we walked to the townhall to meet the mayor of Sciacca, Fabrizio Di Paola, who gave us a very friendly welcome in Sciacca’s beautiful council hall.
Afterwards we had lunch at
Porto San Paolo, a lovely restaurant
at the harbour.
With lots of delicious seafood inside, we then went to look at something very unusual. It is called “Castello Incantato” - but there is no castle, instead there are thousands of sculptures, all of them showing human heads (or heads of monsters, too). We were impressed by the work of artist Fillipo Bentivengna who took this to be his life’s task.
After this, we had some free time, before we met again at the “Grand Hotel delle Terme” for the Welcome Party. Great food and wonderful performances by all the partner countries passed the time much too quickly.
In the morning, we had the second day of drama workshop. We began developing ideas for the basic concept, which was that we would have two different types of restaurant on the stage, one very open and tolerant, the other intolerant and nasty to people who looked or behaved differently.
This time we had Lunch at the Istituto Alberghiero. Students of this school prepared and served delicious food, typical of the area of Sicily.
From there, we drove to the Valley of the Temples, an archaeological site in Agrigento. This is an absolutely amazing group of sights, we couldn’t stop taking photos as we strolled from the first to the second and third major temple. First of all, the ca. 2.500-year-old buildings were so impressive, and secondly the warm afternoon sunshine (at the end of November!) was so mild and it also looked really spectacular, as the sun was slowly beginning to sink towards the horizon.
In the evening, there was a reception at the office of the “Colonnello dei Carabinieri”, Riccardo Sciuto. He informed us about the tasks of the Carabinieri, and also spoke about the importance of the law, underlining that it is vital for the law to be not only enforced from above, but also accepted and supported from the roots - the people. It’s only if the law has universal acceptance that organized crime such as the Mafia can be beaten. - Of course some of us were at least as impressed by the fast cars and motorbikes of the Carabinieri, which we were allowed to sit in and on.
Then there was some time for sightseeing in Agrigento itself, before we had a delicious pizza at a restaurant.
The drama workshop was especially important today, because it was also the day of the performance. So after some more exercises and rehearsals, we gave our best to play out the contrasts between the tolerant and the intolerant restaurants; we especially enjoyed the final scene when we all came face to face in the middle (in pairs), and extended a greeting of peace and love to the opposite player. - Everything worked fine, as we had intended it, and everybody was very pleased with our play.
After the final applause, a bus took us to Erice, located on top of Mount Erice, at around 750m above sea level, overlooking the city of Trapani. When we got there, we started with a very tasty lunch and then went to the highest point of the village, where we had a fantastic view of the coastline with its rocks, and also two castles and various interesting churches. Again, the sundown was just breathtakingly beautiful.
Back in Sciacca, we had a free evening, and we used it to get together and talk about all sorts of topics, enjoying the company of the people from all the teams. By now we had already made some friends - and it didn’t matter what country they were from. We talked about our favourite music, about international football championships, and we found out that most of us were interested in the same things.
We had a *very* early departure for Palermo on Thursday - but we found out that it was worth it. We started our sightseeing tour by visiting the Cappella Palatina at the Castle of the Normans. The rich golden mosaic pictures all over this chapel were really impressive, and one could certainly spend a whole day in there looking at all the pictures. From there we walked to the cathedral, which is famous for its mixture of styles, acquired throughout the long history of its building between the 12th and the 19th century.
Lunch was taken at the “Focacceria S. Francesco” (delicious again), and we found it remarkable that there was a sign on the door saying “Addio pizzo”; Liz explained that “addiopizzo” is the name of a grassroots movement established to build a community of businesses and consumers who refuse to pay “pizzo” – Mafia extortion money.
We spent the rest of the afternoon walking around Palermo center, looking at little shops and cafés and buying some souvenirs. In the evening, there was the Farewell Party at school. And like the Welcome Party, it was in “grand style” again. We heard a poem, recited by the Sicilian poet himself, we saw a ballet performance, we listened to the school choir singing traditional songs, and there was a very enthusiastic speech by headmistress Gabriella Bruccoleri, in which she praised the spirit of tolerance and cooperation being the basis for the project and also for the future of Europe.
The most moving part of the evening were the homages to the culture of the partner countries. Each country was given its own presentation, starting with a student from Sciacca coming forward with the national flag of the respective country, then there was a slideshow of typical cultural features of the country, and another student recited a poem by a famous author - in the original language. Everybody was really touched by the work and the ideas that the Italian hosts had put into this.
Time for saying good-bye - and crying a lot of tears because we had to leave already! All of us would have loved to stay longer. But on the other hand, we were happy about having made such a lot of friends in such a short time. The whole week there were spotlights on tolerance, and we forgot about all prejudices that we may have had.
Individual voicesI liked all the plan of the project, from the beginning to the end. The project was so well planned that all the time we had something special and interesting to do. All was very fine and well organized.
After this experience I realized how much an intolerant person can hurt the others. I am trying to be more tolerant and think about the other people before doing something that can affect them.
I realized that no matter from what country we come, we are the same and we can get along well.
Italian food is really delicious!
[The Welcome Party] was a great evening and in the end all the students sang and danced together.
At the Farewell Party there was a huge buffet with lots of tasty Italian specialities. In the course of the evening, all the participating countries were presented with pictures, music and poetry, it was very moving. At the end we all danced together and enjoyed our last evening - and we were very sad when it ended.