European Voluntary Service

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Friday, 27 March 2020

February by Gilles

The first week of February opened with a meeting with Renato, a teacher from the Maribor High School of Arts and Design. This first meeting was very encouraging because we could imagine having different types of workshops with the students. Tuesday was the third episode of my French course. I concentrated my course on how to explain where I live and what my activities are. As usual, it is always a very enriching moment to learn pedagogical notions. I really find satisfaction in seeing the participants progress more and more at each lesson.

I spent my Wednesday thinking about a photo selection for my exhibition Wall(s). It was a difficult moment because I had to search through about fifty images and try to find a way to resume or create a link between them. It was a rather complicated exercise but in the end it was beneficial.

On Friday, we had a workshop about the LGBTQI+ cause for the international class. We talked about the inclusion of LGBTQI+ people in today's society and gave some cultural backgrounds for teenagers to discover and be more interested in gender issues. We tried to make the workshop take the form of an active discussion so that the young people could express themselves freely and exchange with us. It was a test moment, we have revised our presentation because unfortunately the children stayed quite passive.
On Friday evening I went to Ljubljana with some friends to participate in the MENT festival and it was a wonderful surprise. I discovered many music bands and saw some friends there again. I hope to be able to go to the 2021 edition.

To start the second week of February we did a workshop about physical activity with children with disabilities. We had with us a ping pong competition. On Tuesday, we repeated our workshop on LGBTQI+ issues at the Second Gymnasium in Maribor. This time the group was very active and we could talk about the difficulties of being on the outside of the hetero-normative society. The young people had many questions and we were able to talk easily with them. Some of them even volunteered for the Maribor Pride.

In the evening, we held a workshop for TOTI DCA, an association of elderly people, called: Healthy mind, Healthy food. The workshop intended to give some nutritional advice but also to raise consciousness around the manipulation of images. First of all, we made a test around nutrition issues with participants. The group was split in two and it was a time of many discussions and debating. Then we made a guacamole in front of the participants so that they knew how to make a simple and tasty meal. Finally, the last part was more oriented to the manipulation of information and images. We talked about the dangers of information on the internet, then we argued and showed, through historical and artistic cases, that it was very simple to modify images to deviate their meaning. The audience was very enthusiastic.

I've been looking all week for a way to print my photos. I spoke with Gregor Salobir from the GT22 to find a good printer in Slovenia. I finally called Luminus Studio in Novo Mesto and it was a great choice. On Thursday, we had an event around global warming with the broadcast of a Franco-German documentary.

The third week has been, I think, the busiest since I've been here. It was the week of preparation for my exhibition. I learned a lot from that experience. My photos finally arrived earlier than expected, on Monday. The first difficulty was to find a way to fix them, because the photos were glued on cardboard without any fixation. But we found a solution and this week was very rich. The first thing was to choose a scenography to give the visitor a feeling of reading, then the technical constraints arrived. We had to choose a height for the photos, print and glue the cartels, print the text of the exhibition's intention, manage the lights and make the space clean for the Friday evening vernissage. The vernissage was a very emotional moment for me because it had been a very long time since I had exhibited and I had the great pleasure of seeing many friends, colleagues and partners come to see my work. I received excellent comments and even gifts. I really didn't expect such a warm welcome. The most difficult moment for me was the speech in English. Once again, I would like to thank all the Infopeka team but also my friends, especially Natnada, for their help.

During this busy week, Lucas and I also participated in Rubrika: Filmopeka where we wrote and analyzed our first reviews. Lucas chose to review one of the movie he hated the most: Fast and furious 8 and I chose to review my favorite movie: Mysterious Skin. It was interesting to have Damijan's advice and encouragement. I also took part in the first meeting with Rajzerfiber around the festival of marches. With Filip and Lucas we want to propose a march around music. We chose several places in the city and associated them with pieces of music we like. I'm also going to take a walk around the Maribor walls that inspire my pictures.

I went to the carnival in Ptuj on the weekend. The Kurent chased away the winter spirits. Spring is coming soon. Ptuj is really a beautiful city, I hope to meet there again to discover the inside of the castle. I really liked the medieval atmosphere of the city. The costumes of the Kurent are impressive, I'm very happy to have been able to participate of the carnival.

The last week of February was quieter. We ended with the vegan meal, which is always very interesting. This time we watched a documentary about capitalism. I think veganism and anti-capitalism are intimately linked. It was, as usual, an excellent evening for his critical mind but also for his stomach.

Thanks for taking the patience to read my blog, see you in March for a special blog. A Coronavirus special edition

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