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The world of Roma

At the beginning of November, thirty-six young people from six different countries met in the picturesque surroundings of the Rakičan mansion in Slovenia to get closer to ‘The World of Roma’. During eight days, participants from Hungary, North Macedonia, Romania, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia presented the Roma communities in their home countries and got a chance to learn more about the history, education, culture, traditions and cuisine of this minority. Thanks to various activities and several trips, for example to the largest Roma settlement in Slovenia – Pušča, to a Roma kindergarten and to the second largest Roma radio in Europe, participants have also came closer to the Roma way of living.

The program of this youth exchange was focused on getting familiar with the way of living of the
Roma people in all participating countries and getting to know the social situation in which
Roma people in Europe are. The whole week was accompanied by icebreaker games, interactive
and creative workshops and discussions.

Where do they come from? Why does their flag contain green and blue color and the wheel in
the center? Do Roma communities have a common language? Are their recipes different in various
countries? Does anyone know the Roma anthem? Do they all really live in bad conditions? These are exactly the questions with which every participant came into contact and on the project we got our answers.

The greatest experience was undoubtedly one evening which we spent
in the kitchen, where each country prepared typical Roma food from their homeland. Slovakia
prepared a quick and tasty bean spread with flatbread. The last question about poor living
conditions has often arisen either in discussions or presentations, however, all participants have
agreed that it depends on different aspects.

One Slovak proverb says: Love goes through the stomach. This is exactly how each participating
country presented the homeland on the first evening during the Cuisine market. Sweet biscuits,
cakes, sweets, salt sticks, crisps or various drinks.
The following evenings were marked by a cultural evening presentation.

The schedule was enriched by many nice surprises – the first night spent together in one room to
empathize the Roma customs, roasting marshmallows over hot coals, dancing to typical songs of
the participant countries, singing and playing the guitar, city-run – getting to know the
surroundings and the light show at the end of the project.

With permission, I would like to close this blog more personal.
One of the questions I was asked was: "Did the project meet your expectations?" I am smiling
because I remember the day, when I was traveling, a little bit afraid of the unknown, to my very first
youth exchange without any idea of what will happen. A few days have already passed and I can
clearly say: „This project has fulfilled my expectations for one hundred percent. I was amazed at
how wonderful ‘The World of Roma’ is, I deepened my knowledge of the other countries and I got
the most precious thing – new friendships.

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