World Exchange – Our Food stories – Fabio from Italy

I am Fabio Rinaldo and I am from Italy (Padova). I’m a university student at Università degli Studi di Perugia, and I am finishing my Master Degree in Human Nutrition.

Because of my love for nutrition, food and knowledge about other cultures, I decided to join the World Exchange – “Our Food” project that took place in Passignano sul Trasimeno, a town near Perugia. When I read the programme, I was so enthusiastic that I sent my application straight away, crossing my fingers for the selection even if the project was just in the middle of my university exam period… I also had to study a bit during those 10 days, but it was a great thing anyway!

Actually, it was my first youth exchange experience. I was really excited about having a close experience with Asian people, because it is an area of the world that fascinates me very much for culture, lifestyle, habits and not last: the food! I had never been in touch with Asian people before this experience, so I was at the same time afraid and excited about the necessity to find a “mixed lifestyle” that could fit for everyone. My main expectations were to have the possibility of knowing more about traditional food, meetnew friends, and of course improve myself (and why not, my English skills too!).

For the Italian team, the arrival in Passignano was super easy, of course. Before seeing the location of the project I was thinking: “Ok, we are around 20 km far from home, nothing new under the sun, I suppose”. Well, I was wrong.

The venue were we stayed was a super eco-friendly-educational farm on the Umbrian hills, it looked like a magical place where the magic actually happened, it was the roof for 40 people coming from all around the word: Italy, France, Hungary, Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia.

Feeding the animals in the farm

At first, I thought that 10 days were not enough to build strong relationships between people that came from so different parts of the world: luckily, I was wrong again.

Every sleeping room hosted participants from different countries, so I was with guys from France, Malaysia and Indonesia. This gave us the possibility to stay in touch minute by minute, from when we woke up until sleeping time.

This experience was well structured because every day the activities rotated around the spirit of collaboration, teamwork and sharing of knowledge. In 10 days it was so incredible how everyone found friendships that, personally, were hard to find even in my hometown.

Speaking of collaboration and teamwork, it came out in many situations: first of all during the cooking classes, when every nation showed how to cook some traditional dishes, helped by participants from other nations. The passion, the intensity and the excitement were high, and I was really glad for teaching Fani (from Indonesia) how to make a pizza, as he was glad for teaching me how to cook Mi (Indonesian noodles).

Indonesian cooking class

But collaboration appeared even in other occasions: during the cleaning time, or when the water for the showers was almost finishing so everyone had to be careful not to waste water, and even if it was January, using only little water to get wet and then closing the tap while soaping until the final rinsing.

We also exchanged a lot: it was beautiful to see how people donate their own things, such as national coins or traditional clothes (I received an awesome jacket from Fani, and now I’m so proud to wear it ‘cause it’s a symbol of true friendship).

I think that this project made me improve a lot and gave me an opportunity that it’s not so common, and I have to be glad for it. I believe that everyone should go through an experience like this, it’s hard to describe how important it was for me and the only way to appreciate it is just to live it!

Everyone was proud to show their culture to others, their traditional dance and habits, and their typical food, as everyone was so excited to learn these things.

It’s such an incredible way to learn, for some aspects better than “formal education”: the truth is that no one of us was a “real” teacher, but everyone was able to share personal knowledge and passions in a very strong way, resulting from our commitment.

I brought home important messages, feelings and knowledge that I will never forget in my life. I was so proud to share all this even with friends from my hometown.

This experience was like a trip around the word, but without moving! Sounds weird, but it is the honest truth.

I have to thank the organisations that were involved in it and all the people that I met during these 10 days, everyone left something in my heart and my mind that I will bring with me forever.

P.S. I was serious when I wrote about true friendship: in the end, Maïva (a French girl) and me are planning to visit Fani and Vela in Indonesia this summer!


Participant Stories