By Gemma Solans Rodríguez
We took part in a Youth Exchange Erasmus+ project, ‘The Art of Upcycling’, amid the Latvian coast in a city named Liepaja. From the 21st to the 28th of March, we reflected on recycling and the topic of waste management. Taking our cultural backgrounds into account, we introduced to the group the present situation in our respective countries, in order to develop concrete strategies to reduce our green footprint impact and engage with others in a greener world.
There were special occasions within the program schedule in which we shared food, traditional music and games in the dining room. We got in touch with other realities in these cultural evenings, engaging in intercultural dialogues and personal connections.
Besides, we investigated how to correctly separate materials, which will not or cannot be reused, into different end-of-life paths and their respective processes. Universally, we associate glass with the green-colour bin, plastic into the yellow and paper into the blue one. But did you know that not all biodegradable plastic bag, labelled as such, can be ready to be properly recycled?
We had the chance to walk around the city centre and surroundings, in a short but refreshing walking tour, where we could check the recycling system and bin distribution; and admire the city’s history in its buildings and enjoying the calmness of the beach.
We particularly enjoyed the challenge, walking around the streets of Liepaja, and asking its warm inhabitants about their thoughts on environmental issues affecting their lives. We could briefly interact and have conversations with the locals on their context and even their used languages.
We got to explore a distinct reality, of those of which we are used to, eat outside, socialise, and acquire new interpersonal and social competences, following the Erasmus’ vocabulary. The widely liked, or at least my favourite activity, was the creation of amber stones in a collective workshop. In there we had the chance to take something handmade for us back home, connecting both ends of the experience.
We feel like we are going back to our realities, where people wait for us, and will get a different version of me. We go back having learnt from a city we would normally not have gotten into contact by mainstream travelling; wiser and with stories to tell. Until the next one, may we meet again.