When’s the last time you made a move outside of your comfort zone? Took a risk that could change your outlook on life? The last time you grew, let yourself commit mistakes “...and fail and fall and have fun” ?

After working with Francesco Pipparelli back in August this year on a TCFT film project (as seen above) under the name “Changing the Story” (links below) I was asking myself the same questions. I would like to expand on Francesco’s beautiful poem and say there is a high level of risk to being young and trying to grow up too fast and settle down, find that career, the perfect partner, the house. Something I have seen in my peers from my hometown. There’s a risk of forming routine and never challenging yourself to change habits or experience other lifestyles. It seems to be the status quo to meet certain milestones by each age, to have it all figured out.

I wake up and reach for my phone, seemingly a morning routine many others have as well. Although this time I had an odd message from Rory who helps to run TCFT. The message was outlining an Erasmus+ 10 day youth exchange to Norway in just over a weeks time, he has attached an email address and a number. The details were a bit vague and seemed too good to be true. I reached out to the contact to find out more information, my anxious mind already overwhelming me with, in hindsight, ridiculous conclusions...what if it’s a con? What if I don’t get along with anyone? What if I get lost in the airport? What if someone tries to take advantage of me there? At this point I feel it’s important for some context. I am not one to usually go out and do things alone, I like company, but not too much and the biggest airport I’ve ever been to (with family) is Southampton which only has 1 terminal and served 1.8 million people in 2018 whereas Heathrow has 5 terminals and served 80.1 million people in 2018.

That’s the thing, the mind will always jump to the worst, exaggerated conclusions in order toprotect you when in reality believing your own thoughts too much can be the biggest danger. My phone buzzes. Shiraz from Hamer Youth replies, he is the team leader for the people representing the UK. After some back and forth discussion, some good supportive friends and family in my ear (thank you, you know who you are) and triple checking the logistics of the trip, I found myself soon re-reading the badly written, obviously copied and pasted info pack they gave me to see what I needed to take.

I wandered into the opportunity. It was booked. I was going in less than 5 days. What in the world had I gotten myself into?!

When I got to Norway I met the most wonderful people and we soon became good friends. I experienced different cultures, from Slovakian, Czech, Turkish, Norweigen and Lithuanian, learnt about different backgrounds. It was truly an eye opening experience and a long way from home but it was a safe space to grow and learn in an informal way. From the trip I took with me a new sense of trust in myself, friendships, insights, inspiration and a desire to learn more about informal education.

Fortunately I was lucky enough to afford the time to go and if you are reading this with an opportunity of your own in mind then I would suggest review it to make sure it’s not tipping the balance between your growth and damage zone and go for it as you don’t know what you might be risking by staying right where you are.




Being Young (Or, the way I learned to dance)
By Franceso Pipparelli

Being young
allows me
to have moments of naive happiness
a happiness
that fills my lungs with deeper breaths
inspirations not wasted,
not a whisper of them

The lightness fills me with energy from fleeting moments
and tells me again that I must smile,
for after all this is the season of sunflowers

wandering to stretch,
to express and enlarge
and live and breathe and grow and commit mistakes and fail and fall and have fun and
though they say “you are free”
I still can’t jump

They say “You have everything in front of you”
but have i?
They say “all of it is up to you”
but is it?

I feel it’s up to me,
everything is probably there
but will it really be up to me?
“Only” they murmur “,
If your work is good,
and brave”
so they say

And I fall
but while I’m falling,
I enjoy the ride,
I’m dancing continuously moving to feel free to fall my way