World Exchange – Our Food stories – Francesca from Italy
I’m Francesca and I come from Italy, Perugia, a city that is 30 minutes away from the farm where the Youth Exchange “Our Food” took place.
I’ve just finished my bachelor degree in cultural heritage at the University of Perugia and I work as server, baby sitter and other small jobs that allow me to study.
I chose to participate in World Exchange – Our Food because I’m very interested in the topic of food and the cultural meaning of conviviality – part of my university thesis was based on this subject – and also cooking is one of my biggest passions: I love trying new recipes and using different ingredients, being open minded to other types of cooking and food habits, different from the traditions of the region where I was born and grew up.
I decided to apply for this project also because I considered it a great opportunity to be face to face with other lifestyles, to be directly in touch with different cultures and to learn new ways of cooking and thinking, even if I was very near my city. I expected to be in an intercultural space to share the differences and the analogies of the participants that came from different parts of the world (Malesia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hungary, France).
Francesca teaching how to cook “ravioli” (italian dumplings)
Unfortunately I couldn’t participate from the beginning, because in the same days there was the deadline to submit my university thesis and I had to finish it and work a lot for it: for this reason I was lucky that the exchange took place in my city! When I finally arrived at the farm, I was a little bit worried because the other participants already knew each other and maybe it would have been hard for me to integrate. On the contrary, I found a very friendly and open atmosphere; everyone was always ready to involve me in the activities and curious to know me and listen to my experiences, in spite of my bad English!
I met fantastic persons and I made new friends in a very short time, because we lived altogether and we shared everything: rooms, meals, activities. This situation created a big complicity with each other.
Another challenge was the language: it was a very long time that I hadn’t practiced my English! Then I realised that this wasn’t the only thing that I was going to improve: the whole project has been a school of life that showed me how much I am open minded and how much I can actually relate with new things.
Learning French traditional dances!
In addition, the topic of the project was very interesting for me, and the activities were so much fun that I learnt a lot of new things without effort: cooking classes, dances, presentations about the other cultures, but also reflections about food and health, food and environment and so on.
Certainly, this exchange made me aware of some topics that I had never considered before, like the impact of animal farming and how you can make a difference, even if small, with your individual contribute and food choices.
All this proved that the ordinary model of school education, the one we are used to, isn’t the only one, and that the experiences and the comparisons with others are an important source for everyone’s personal growth.