This is the EuroArab Team of AEGEE-Alicante who attended the awesome Youth In Action exchange, hosted in Munich last September.
Each of us will tell you the whoooole story of our YiA exchange, as a diary, day by day.
Tuesday, 3rd September
by Clara Gutiérrez
Third day, Tuesday morning, today is the day!! Yes, that morning was the day when the Spanish team, together with the Tunisian team, had their workshops! And we were the first teams to do it so yes, we were a bit nervous and, however strange it may seem, the night before everyone went out partying, but we didn’t! Instead we stayed at the Jaeger’s hostel (where we were hosted) to prepare our presentation well and be ready for the big day!
After having slept some couple of hours, we went down to have breakfast. It was so funny just having a look at our Spanish team members, how each one of us was having breakfast! We were all in our own world, sitting apart from each other, some with their ipad or their computer, others looking nowhere, kind of concentrated, trying to do as if nothing happened and that we were not worried about what was coming; but we have to be honest, we wanted to do it good so ok, we admit it now!
10:00 am, everyone was at Clubin now, ready to hear us, and where were we? At Clubin of course, but in the computer area, making the last retouches before starting!! “Just one more minute” was what we were saying in those ten minutes we needed. It was like an exam day at university!
At last we started the presentation…
and every one of us did its part in it and all went good, at least that was what the rest of the people told us later, so I hope they were honest about it and they were not just trying to have compassion on us! And this is us, the Spanish team:
Right afterwards it was the Tunisian’s team turn. In my opinion, their presentation was very interesting and they constantly caught my attention, especially because it was at that time when I realized how they were in culture, way of living and way of thinking, not very different from Europeans, and this really shocked me, in a positive way of course, and you will now understand why. First of all they explained that Arab and Islam are not the same: The Arab world includes the Middle East (where there are Islamic people, Catholics, Jewish…) and the North of Africa. So you can see that Arab is not the same as Islamic. Another difference they made was in relation to the words Islamic (follows the Islamic religion) and Islamist (which is an extremist follower of the religion). They also talked about three misconceptions people in general have about Arab people:
- Women have no rights (and they explained that yes they do have).
- Arabs (men and women) are uncivilized (they demystified it by showing us for example that they are modern and civilized as we can see it in protests now).
- Extremism: it has been present in many other places in history as the Nazis or the Ku Klux Clan.
Just one note, when the Tunisian girls explained how Muslim women are, they showed three photos about women: one had her face completely covered, the other had a veil on, and the third one had her head uncovered, “as me” – said the Tunisian girl – “It’s a personal choice; each one decides how they express the religion, which is something between you and Allah”.
Once their presentation had finished, the debate (or discussion time of the workshop) started. This was really the really interesting part, where ideas and opinions started to appear, but just as a brief summary, I will mention two remarks:
- When they asked a Tunisian girl what was her opinion about teaching a girl at school wearing a niqab or any other veil that covers her face completely; she said that she was totally against it because she says she doesn’t see the girl’s face and expressions, and she needs to see her face when teaching.
- Another Tunisian girl was asked about whether she sees discrimination in women, at what she replied that no, at least in Tunisia there isn’t.
And finally it was lunch time, the tough work was over! Time to eat and recover ourselves! We went to Mensa again and had a good, relaxing and enjoying lunch (just kidding, it was as any other lunch really, just that it felt kind of different after the workshop). But what was the great news? That instead of having another city tour to see the 3rd Reich, they were going to give us free time until 8pm! Oh, thank you!
Free time now, Spanish team divided:
In my case, I went with Marcus, one of the German organizers, to have a little trip around Munich. We started at Marienplatz (where the town hall is), walked down Kaufingerstraße, the main shopping street of Munich, until Stachus and took some pictures in front of the fountain. Then we went to the Platzl (where we saw some sunglasses in a shop and started trying them, playing just like kids) and finally went to Hofbräuhaus, the “epicenter” of Bavarian high culture! Everyone who visits Munich has to go to Hofbräuhaus! It’s incredible that huge and enormous place where everyone is drinking gigantic beer jars while you could hear Bavarian music at the background, being played by authentic Bavarian musicians!
In another area of Munich were Irene and Carlos, visiting other places with another German organizer and an Egyptian participant . But of course, their tour was not a “normal” tour, since when they went to the big English Garden and saw a hill, they didn’t have another idea but to get to the top and go down the hill rolling as a croquette!
On the other hand, the formal Juli and Omar went to Jaeger’s to rest. There they heard that tonight we were going to have a EuroArab night where every team would take food or whatever they had brought with them from their country (oh, oh, suspense music, since we didn’t bring anything with us). So they went to a supermarket and bought some stuff to prepare a great Sangría! How kind of them!
Evening now, everyone was ready for the EuroArab night at Clubin. The night started good, with an Arabic folk dance performed by a very peculiar and funny guy!
Meanwhile, some participants were cooking their food. And finally all the food was ready to eat!! Photos illustrate better the ambiance, so here they go:
Finally, after all that awesome and unforgettable night, it was… party time! And this time yes, the Spanish team was going out! The night started “normal”, we went to an Australian bar and had there, as it could not be different, a beer jar! Ok, it all seemed good, but then we went to an Irish pub and sat in a corner where we were kind of “hidden” and there were like some 30 or so beer coasters on the table, so beautiful and round… yes, round like ninja stars!!! And we just started a fight with the beer coasters!! It was awesome!! I could not stop laughing and throwing beer coasters! I can’t take out of my head the image of Carlos trying to cover himself with I don’t know what because everyone was throwing them to him! It was one of the best party time moments I have ever had in my life! We were kicked out of there and so we left, without having drunk anything, since we had been playing all the time! It had been so great! We then moved to Barschwein, a big and cool place where we ended up the night at a good time in the morning: 4am!