How to start this text. I could start with something like “what I have learned at Camp Democracy” or “my experience at camp democracy”. But I will not, since that is rubbish. Instead I will start it like this.
The fourth of September. The heat is unbearable, atleast for me. I prefer the cold over the warmth, yet i find myself here, in Rhodes, Greece of all places. We have arrived to the city of Rhodes by bus, and are trying to find playcafé. Easier said than done in this cascade of tourist traps, restaurant bouncers’ and people. Culture clashes at its finest when we walk the streets, and not counting the “toilets” at the airport, this is the first experience of the Camp Democracy project.
Our stay would be in a village named Monolithos to the south of Rhodes city. A calm and beautiful village, giving us a view of greek culture outside the city. Our time together were packed with teambuilding exercises and name games, but as soon as we had a face to the name, the real project came to a start!
Despite what you have read this far, the Erasmus project does not sponsor vacations. So we came to a start with changing Europe, by first presenting the problems within our own country, and after your own interest, build groups which worked with this problem. My interest fell on the task of “solving” the problem with right wing growth in the European union, so i joined the group which worked with a exchange program between youths in the union.
The days went pass, and our work with this project were briefly interrupted by a cultural and historic walk around the old town of Rhodes. Such a magnificent place, with so much beauty and history. I kept close pace with Michael whom guided us through the old town and told us about the history of it all. A tour which i have recited in my mind for an occasion in which I return in private with mates. As if the tour were not enough, our old town expedition came to its main destination.
The Rhodes synagouge.
We were all greeted and let inside this marvelous house of prayers, which can in its own modesty be compared to the St. Mary’s cathredal in Krakow, Poland. As splendid as it was, we were there for a whole other reason. We were going to meet with a survivor. A survivor of the last time the right wing rose to power in Europe. A survivor of one of the most heinous act of modern age.
An old, jewish man.
The sole survivor of his whole family, and one of the few jews from Rhodes whom survived the holocaust.
I have met survivors before, and listen to their story, but this one got to me the hardest. In the time of new right wing growth in all over Europe, and the realisation that his history would most likely repeat itself, but this time with another young man sickened me. The legacy should be peace, yet this is the result.
We left the synagouge, me motivated more than ever to bring Europe closer to each other, and to spread the voice of unity instead of isolation and hate!
Our time on Rhodes went toward its final days, and it is just so much a group of young people from all over Europe can do in one week. On the final day we had a plan, and a goal. We all had. We said goodbye to each other at the airport on the tenth of September.
In Rhodes we met, twenty-four people from four countries. We learned each others name, and to put a face to that name. But despite the size of Rhodes, there were still enough room for one to retract themself too. This would all change when we head for our second destination on this project. To the deep, cold forest up north, whom I call home. The only way away from each other there is to head deeper into the vast forest and wildlife.