Volcano of energy and ideas, all of which must be done NOW
The opposite of patience
Traveler and thumb rider
Loves working with people, dance, move and read
Committed to human rights
Typical Italian sense of time, easy going, no rush, maybe one day
The opposite of fast
Frisbee enthusiast and green thumbed
Loves working with people, possibly with a beer near the ocean
Committed to good food
We met in Aveiro, Portugal where Anna was on Erasmus and Andrea on his doctoral studies. It wasn’t love at first sight, we just met quite often at various events. The spark happened at one of the Erasmus party, around 4 AM, when most of the people had left. In that moment life changing stories about dreams, about Kilimanjaro were flowing. Only then it started, slow but unstoppable as a ball on an inclined plane: it took several months just to meet for coffee. Everything happened during Anna’s last five days in Portugal. Endless conversations, all-day meetings, a sudden feeling deepening with every minute spent together. Five intense days were enough to make Anna starting to think, on her way back to Poland after one year absence, how to return to Portugal. Two weeks later, Anna hitchhiked throughout the whole Europe, to find herself once again in Aveiro. We spent three more weeks together. While she was leaving we knew that this was just the beginning of a life changing story. A difficult story, though, as the first year passed in long distance relationship, somewhere between Poland, Portugal, and Italy. Weekend meetings, eternal longing, problems with Skype. And that was until July 2012, when we decided to put a stop to that ...
CHANGE 1 - BEGINNINGS
The life changing landmark was Camino de Santiago. After charming meetings every now and then, we had to deal with mutual presence 24/7 under the enormous fatigue and the challenges to be faced along the Camino. It was not easy. In fact, without exaggeration, it was very difficult. However, we entered Santiago hand in hand, knowing that nothing could stop us anymore. Our life together was marked by the Way. After Camino there came a time of relative stabilization, if three times moving residence could be so called. From Bologna to Warsaw, passing through Verona. Along the way, both of us abandoned our learned profession: Anna, while living in Italy, had to switch from psychology to teaching English; Andrea in Poland resigned from chemistry to teach Italian. Languages slowly began to master our professional and non-professional life ...
CHANGE 2 - STABILIZATION (?)
Teaching languages was not bad, though something was missing. Teach a language for the language itself did not change the world. From the beginning we had in mind something like a school where the language is only an excuse to talk about important social issues. Finally, on January 2015 we started the sayBabel workshops which, on the one hand, allow participants to practice their language skills and, on the other, spread knowledge and tools in areas such as responsible consumption, human rights, or soft skills. Babel means for us not only diversity, but also belief, overcoming barriers, a life changing experience. The workshops were based on “tips”, so that one pays as much as she/he could and want to. We also started to try out the possibility to exchange, since money is not the only way.
Time passed and the stabilization began to bother us a little ... It is difficult to say where and when exactly the idea of going around the world popped up. One day it was simply there, impossible to ignore. But how, where, and for what (money)? Initially, we thought about dropping everything, going to the Middle East, earning enough savings and then start travelling. Yet, from the very beginning something was wrong with this idea...
(EX)CHANGE 3 - LANGUAGES
The idea came up one evening in March. Anna was heading for a meeting with her friend, thinking as usually about the planned trip, when she got a flash of inspiration: bring in more cash and going for an holiday is not life changing. What if instead of earning more money we just spend less? If we offer our knowledge and skills in exchange for a place to sleep and food? This will not only help us to limit our budget, but will also allow us to truly enter the community, breaking out from the stereotypical tourist path. Finally, to undermine a system in which money is the sole determinant of success and condition for realizing dreams.
Anna excitedly reached the meeting room to talk with her friend Ela about the new idea and the travel planned within few months. But before she could speak, Ela revealed she had an interesting proposition: A friend of her from Ashoka, an NGOs which support changemakers, is looking for a project coordinator for the Changemaker schools ...
The vision of our travel still needed several weeks to be polished and developed, but the idea of CHANGE and EXCHANGE met at that very moment. EXCHANGE as a method for travelling, CHANGE as a goal...