2014. március 4., kedd

The Great Beauty

Yes, everyone knows the story. Poor Leo left the Kodak theatre again without that little shiny piece of metal, called Oscar. I feel utmost sorry for him, but I am not here to augment the number of novels about his „catch me if you can” Oscar misery.  Living in Rome, it’s my obligation to reflect on the gladsome happening that put back the cinema of Italy to its deserved place in the world.  As a great pleasure for us, Sunday night  Sorrentino’s masterpiece  ’The Great Beauty’  won the first prize in the category of best foreign language films. 

The first time I saw this fine piece of work was in Hungary. Inexplicably, there were hardly anyone interested in this movie, as we watched it together with less than ten people in one of the hidden screening rooms of the cinema.  No hype, no advertisements and almost no audience, but we got three hours of beauty that left us breathless.  Behind the stunning scenes, the story of Jep Gambardella, a 65 year old Italian writer enchants the spectator through a never-ending line of posh rooftop parties, high-class affairs and pure hedonism. However, behind the luxury glaze Jep only finds deep emptiness and engaging in a series of reflections he attempts to discover the great beauty of life. The Naples-born Sorrentino guides us into the world of Fellini through depicting the glamour of the eternal city alongside the moral emptiness of its high class people.  Modern time perfection.

What about The wolf of Wall Street featuring Leo? When the movie hit the Hungarian cinemas, there was hardly any chance to avoid bumping into Leo’s face on the streets or on the screens of trams and buses. Such a great hype, plus never-ending lines in front of the cinemas. Undoubtedly, Martin Scorsese created a great movie again, though the recipe was quite simple: adopt the story of a best seller book, take Leo plus a pretty Hollywood blondy, add some sex and loads of drugs, Jonah Hill for the jokes and the holy richness that one decent man would never get in his life. Hypnotize, and make it sure that in the end the dumb spectator feels like that he needs to become the next Jordan Belfort.  

And the lesson learned today? Maybe, sometimes it’s worth watching something different than super hero rubbish (and here I do not refert to Scoresese’s film) made for pure economic profit. It’s regrettable how people are being seduced through diverse marketing strategies to spend their money for worthless movies lacking any meaningful message / artistic value.  

Hereby, I take the chance to encourage you to watch films like the one of Sorrentino. Nevertheless, after watching ’The Great Beauty’ you might feel an urging desire to discover the capital of Italy, my hosting city.  I can assure you, it is not that kind of a trip which you will regret. 

2014. február 15., szombat

All roads lead to Rome

In contrary to my previous plans I did not write the closing article of this blog.  As a result of a memorable coincidence occurred in the summertime, my Italian experience was prolonged with an extra two months. This is what inspired me to continue the roll.  

After having graduated in International Relations MA in my hometown in Hungary, I suddenly found myself in Italy again. However this time there is a little alteration in the story, since I changed Milan to Rome, in order to start an internship at the International Relations Department of Unione Italiana Sport Per tutti (UISP) which is one of the largest European „sport for all” organizations. If you are not familiar with the non profit sport sector and haven’t heard about them, I will give you some help right away: UISP is the father (or mother) of various sport related campaigns like Vivicittá and the Antiracist World Cup (Mondiali Antirazzisti), while these events represent just small parts of its activities. 

The activities if UISP’s International Relations Department are those ones with which I always wanted to deal with. The profile of this office unites three important components: the social, the international and the sporty. Being an active NGO on international level, UISP has already contributed to several international/European sport related projects which made them so attractive to (ex-)university students of social sciences like me. This time I took advantage of the Campus Hungary grants in order to deepen my knowledge in the field of international project management. 

Not giving up on sporting activities I joined the football and touch rugby teams of Liberi Nantes (http://www.liberinantes.org/), an amateur sport club managed by UISP. To be clear Liberi Nantes is not a regular sport club. It’s also a great social initiative which provides meaningful free time activity for political refugees and asylum seekers in Italy. At the moment (not counting the Italians) I am the only European member of the football team which is mainly composed of Africans. Instead of words I attached a video, which tells the story of these guys. Even though it’s in Italian and French You can easily get the story just by watching it: 

Since I only have about one more month here, I will follow up soon with some stories and pictures which might be interesting for you. Take care :)

2013. augusztus 30., péntek

From Verbania to Valencia, the summary of August

August in Milan is wonderful. No, that’s a bullshit. If there is one period of the year when the busiest city of Italy gets the most boring place on Earth, it’s definitely the month of August. If You ask me why, you probably don’t know how this country works.  According to the unwritten rules of the Italian lifestyle August - but especially the week of Ferragosto, the national holiday -  is the time of the holy break when Italians leave everything behind to unbend themselves on the seacoast. 

What can a poor European volunteer do when the city is abandoned by its people, the blinds are down, the bars are closed and the streets are empty?  Well, he can only follow the exodus.   

It all started in late July with a three-day long, intensive #ifyouknowwhatimean, mid-term evaluation in Verbania, a charming town which lies on the lakeside of Lago Maggiore. It was a great occasion to reunite with fellow volunteers from all over Italy in order to share our experiences and other stuff. As you can see, we worked really hard to understand what were the turning points and main lessons of our EVS:

Not many hours after we had returned to Milan, Giuseppe, my fellow Hungarian-Italian popped up to discover the hidden secrets of this city and the surrounding areas. Lago di Como and the house of George Clooney seemed to be an ideal destination for a weekend trip:

The next weekend, our beloved Turkish buddy, Methe knocked on the door after taking a sharp curve in his Eastern European railway adventures. At the time of his arrival, we asked ourselves the following question:  why should we stay in the empty Milan if we can refresh ourselves in the cool water of the stunning lake Como.... So we went there once again:

The ensuing days brought the long weekend of the sacred Ferragosto. Staying at home at this time when everyone is lying on the beach? This was not an option for me..
First stop: the beach of Varazze, the town close to Genova where the Riviera of Palm trees commences:

Second stop: the beach of Pescara and the house of Manuel (the well-known Erasmus stripper from Szeged) in a hidden village of Abruzzo region.
Third stop: Sulmona in the heart of Italy and the place of Alessio, who is also a well-known Erasmus stripper of my hometown:

As for the last step of this summer tour I took advantage of the low-cost flights to see the legendary Ruben Gadea Mira, my old-time Erasmus fella in Valencia, Spain. The five days spent with him turned out to be an authentic Mediterranean experience with loads of paellas, beach parties, tequila shots and sports like football and adventurous river trekking. Although three years has passed and many things has changed in our lives (but especially in his life) our Erasmus spirit still keeps rocking:



On the way back to Milan, I took a short visit in Zaragoza where I had the pleasure to be guided by Cris, an ex-erasmus friend from Milan.


So dear friends, this was the summery summary of my last (and probably the busiest) month here in Italy. In less than one week time my European Voluntary Service will come to an end, and I will return to my hometown in Hungary. From there –hopefully- I will come back to you with my ultimate post. I really hope that you enjoyed the last month of this summer as much as I did. Laters! 

2013. augusztus 10., szombat

Happy Birthday Captain!

Today is a great day not just for the city of Milan, but also for the world of football. Forty years ago Javier Zanetti was born, the man whose name became the synonym of loyalty, humility and faith. During his long football career, he managed to reach the highest levels by conquering five trophies of the Italian Seria A, one Champions League Cup and one FIFA Club World Cup just to mention the most important ones. Javier is almost the last player who remained from the CL winner, superb team of Internazionale in 2009 and 2010, which is one of the many reasons why he represents a great asset for the black and blue fans. Thanks to his incredible devotion towards his club (he has been playing for Inter since he arrived to the old continent) he already wrote his name into the football legend’s history book. With all the shining victories and unforgettable battles behind his back he never forgot about his modesty and respectful behavior while earring himself the title of „Captain”. Undoubtedly, without his lead, Inter could have hardly reached those excellent results in the second half of the recent millennium’s first decade. 

However, there is one thing which should be underlined when we are talking about the legend’s career. Zanetti is not just an ever shining star of his profession but also the champion of life. His commitment to help the poor and disadvantaged children is a great example to follow. Almost twelve years ago Javier and his wife Paula gave rise to the P.U.P.I.  Foundation (which is the acronym for Por Un Piberió Integrado, but also his nickname) in order to help the children in one of the most deprived urban areas of Buenos Aires, called Lanús. With the set up of their social enterprise, the Zanettis created a unique space where socially disadvantaged kids receive care and education without which they might find themselves in an even more difficult situation. Following many years of efforts in the social field, he was also nominated as FIFA’s ambassador for the S.O.S Children’s Villages project in Argentina. A few years ago, for his moral behavior on and off the pitch, the captain received the Altropallone award from my receiving foundation. It’s a pity that I could not see him at that time.

To sum up, I am convinced that today’s doping fuelled and market interests governed shiny football world needs more people like Javier. Instead of praising extrovert, luxury addicted football clowns, we should better learn from his example to get close to the true values of sport and life.

Captain, happy birthday and good luck on and off the pitch! 

10.08.2013, Milan

2013. július 17., szerda

About the changelessness in this country

Almost three years ago when I arrived to Italy as an incoming Erasmus student I was astonished by Verona’s charming beauty and the multiculturalism of its certain districts. I never expected that those five months would become such a decisive period of my life and honestly, I never thought that I would learn that much from people from other cultural backgrounds. Sharing a flat with some Arabian students at the university residence was a turning point which opened my eyes for a diverse understanding of the world. Driven by the experience gained in Verona, I wrote my thesis on Italy’s Muslim community and their struggle for recognition. In that paper I strived to depict the new Italian reality, the recent changes of its society but also the difficulties of the so called new Italians, their social exclusion and the discriminatory acts against them. 

As I ever wanted to return to Italy I capitalized on the chance given by the European Voluntary Sevice (EVS) and two years later I re-entered to the Italian soil. This time I found myself in the financial and industrial capital of Lombardy, the rainy-greyish, multicultural Milan where I am assisting the work of a sport-related association primarily dealing with immigrants. Nevertheless, two years passed since my first Italian experience, many of the things did not change in this country and there are even some which seemingly worsened. The manifestations of racism and excluding attitudes did not vanish from the political/public discourse and after the first black Italian minister, Cècile Kyenge, stepped into the scene these seem to became even more explicit and common.

These days the case of Calderoli and Kyenge gets the main attention in the Italian media, as the vice-president of the Italian Senate, the Lega Nord member Roberto Calderoli  paralleled Mrs. Kyenge to an orang-utan. According to the vice-president his statement was only a little joke and it does not have to do anything with racism. Though many public figures called him to step back from his position, sticking to his opinion he did not even thought of resigning. In relation to this case, up to this date nothing happened apart from a dishonest apologise. No resignation, no sanctions from the Senate, no real consequences. And this is what represents the best the changelessness of the things in this country. Despite of the slow progress in the field of social inclusion the general attitudes towards the new Italians continue to be based on the same old prejudices. In this changelessness the role of leading politicians is unquestionable: it would be a mistake to think that they are not in position to shape the general attitudes towards ethnic/religious minorities. Unfortunately, it’s always those with less intellectual capacity and sense of responsibility whose words can attract bigger public attention.

Looking at the happenings from a broader prospect, there’s one thing that every European has to keep in his/her mind. This is the fact that the world around us is changing way too fast and it’s never enough to emphasize that this century will pose some serious challenges for the old continent and those ones who are unable to adopt will face serious difficulties. While some European countries with opened societies of an inclusive attitude (some say they are even too opened) are on the way to easily adopt to these new challenges, others unfortunately are lagging behind. In this regard the Southern and Eastern part of the continent can be paralleled where many of the citizens are still inclined to prejudices or even racially discriminatory attitudes. In the dawn of the 21th century, neglecting the progress of a rapdily changing world, not being able to accept the new realties and sticking to eroded, conservative attitudes are just as backward as completely forgetting about the tradition and the roots of a culture. And in the roots of the European tradition the concept of 'Libertè, Egalitè, Fraternitè' prevails, just in the contrary to the recent manifestations of racism and exclusion. 

2013. július 8., hétfő

Summer memories: Antiracist World Cup - XVII Edition

Have you ever had the feeling of an overwhelming desire to return to a festival just after you have left the scene? Well, if your answer is not, it probably means that you haven’t found your ideal festival yet. Now, after the Antiracist World Cup /Mondiali Antirazzisti/ which took place in the vicinity of Castelfranco Emilia in Emilia Romagna region, I can definitely say I have already found mine, even if its musical profile does not entirely match with my taste.


For the first sight, the Antiracist World Cup might seem to be an international sport event, however it’s much more than it, as it also includes a free music festival.  For a few amazing days, sport lovers -players and fans all together- from all over the world gather in the name of antiracism, antifascism and antisexism in order to share this unique experience. While some kind of weird mixed smell of football fan’s pyrotechnics and weed spreads all over the camp’s area, people of diverse origin interact in different ways. They play numerous kinds of games, they sing, they drink, they dance and...you know the rest. From time to time the ultras start chanting the well-known rhythms of „Siamo tutti antifascisti” /We are all antifascists/ after what, some volunteer DJ’s at the bar put on the anthem of Italian partisans, the famous „Bella Ciao”. And in fact, at the Mondiali Antirazzisti, you have a feeling that you are surrounded by a huge group of partisans who did not put down their weapons to continue fighting for a world without fascism and racial hatred. Not surprisingly, leftist ideas shape the attitude of this event where the principle of equality prevails. Thanks to all of its characteristics, the Antiracist World Cup does not align with other regular sport events.  As a matter of fact, it’s a monumental protest against all form of social discrimination, could it be on the basis of race, sexual orientation, gender.

As the profile of our foundation in Milan and the message of the Antiracist World Cup have many things in common, we decided to offer our volunteer work at the event. Sadly, the organizers (Unione Italiana Sport per Tutti and Progetto Ultra with the support of FARE network) have to cope with financial difficulties to realize this wonder, therefore they highly rely on volunteers in some fields of the organization and realization. Although not having much experience in the kitchen work, we contributed to the daily tasks of the main restaurant’s staff. As a great pleasure, we could work with four amazing girls, Giulia, Maisha, Sharon and Nicole who were always ready to smile, even during the hardest periods. Feeding more thousand participants was not an easy task, but at least I will always remember the Italian name of the tray: vassoio.

And what did we do apart from assisting the kitchen staff in their work?  Not surprisingly football, football and football (in case I did not oversleep) and all the other stuff what a fellow would do who goes to festivals. Beside the triangle of work, football and joy I also had the chance to listen to the words of Cécile Kyenge Kashetu, the first black minister of the Italian Republic who contributed to the debate in the topic of sport and citizenship. In this way, I not just gained memorable moments, but also extra knowledge on the field of the social aspects of sport that for some time past constitutes the centre of my interest.

Speaking for myself, this event turned out to be one of my greatest experiences so far. Hopefully this nice memory will provide me energy for the remaining days of the summer. If I have the chance, I will definitely return, no matter if I will work as a volunteer or participate as the leader of a future champion team. Thank you for all!