This afternoon it was a joy to be welcomed by the amazing Collective Aid volunteers and their enthusiastic students at the Azadi Community Centre about 1km from the Obrenovac Camp.
In the middle of town, and with local people living in flats above, Azadi opens daily with a mix of language lessons (English, French and German), practical skills and activities (theatre, art, yoga).
Coming into the Centre I was greeted by a small, welcoming reception, then there are two teaching spaces and an activity room, all off to the left. Normally about 30-40 people would come to Azadi daily, but during Ramadan, this is understandably halved and lessons have been pushed back an hour to accommodate the change in daily routine too. Even so, it felt busy in the space. Whilst I was chatting to volunteers T and Timo in reception, all we could hear was laughter filling the Centre from the Drama activity Romane and Natalie were running two rooms away!
The team introduced an activity called European Culture which has since been updated to Cultural Exchange and I was keen to join in last thing in the day. Cecile and Djordje were leading and chose to discuss the pros and cons of societies built on I or We (Individualism and Collectivism). Despite a relatively challenging topic, and so many different languages, a lively and considered debate took place that was so interesting to be part of! It made me reflect a bit about Brexit and the causes of the divide in our own country.
Azadi is a trial which appears to be a big success. So the next challenge will be to find, and pay for, bigger premises. Definitely a project we’d be proud to support (and we’ll need your help when the time comes). They really want to involve the local community more and are exploring the best ways to do this too.
A beautiful project with beautiful international students and teachers! Love and laughter.