Alien locals in Łódź
Activity of voluntary workers joining the European Voluntary Service Service in another country does not necessarily start and end in their designated ‘working’ hours. Cătălina from Romania and Samuel from Spain, who started their voluntary service in November last year, prove this in Łódź. The ‘Aliens in Łódź’ project was a part of it. The desire to meet new people and the city, where they would live for months to come, were merely a spark to establish and international and inter cultural community connecting people through art and culture. The originators wanted to feel at home in Łódź and provide other voluntary workers with an opportunity to better integrate with one another and locals.
‘Aliens in Łódź’
First activities under ‘Aliens in Łódź’ included film evenings, where voluntary workers from across Europe and Poland had an opportunity to exchange views and spend some time together, In total Cătălina and Samuel organised 40 different events in Łódź, ranging from international quizzes to workshops, picnics and fairs. In Cătălina’s view the one where they showed the Oscar winning Ida attracted the largest audience and was the best. The quizzes also grew in popularity, at the last one there was not enough chairs, they had to be brought from elsewhere.
The voluntary workers created a website, where they described their events. The discover their new country with every step, they watch Polish films, they like to listen to Polish music: The Dumplings, Fisz Emade, Mikromusic, they reach out to classics – Breakout. They spent the Polish Christmas, they got to know Polish cuisine.
International Boat of Culture
The final part of Cătălina’s and Samuel’s voluntary service was organisation of the International Boat of Culture festival. The combination of efforts and energy of international and Polish voluntary workers made it possible to organise a three-day event attracting local residents and visitors from abroad in only one month. The festival included concerts of artists from Poland, Turkey, Brazil, Taiwan, Italy and Spain, short film shows, international meetings and quizzes, yoga and creative writing workshops, exhibitions, a living library, a picnic with foods from across Europe, a trip to see Łódź murals, and much much more. The voluntary workers were supported by their receiving organisation - KobieTy, particularly in finding sponsors and getting licenses from city authorities.
Have they achieved their goal? To be transformed from the original ‘aliens’ to the level of locals integrated with the city and the people. Samuel decided to stay in Łódź and look for a job there and Cătălina, despite moving to Norway in September, will come back as often as possible and plans to organise the second edition of the festival next year. The European Voluntary Service helped them to find their second home in Poland, in Łódź.