This was in many ways a perfect introduction to the world of SALTO. For me it was about giving and sharing, and I went there to present some of the tools in my work; but it was also about learning from the others and absorbing their work almost physically, by participating in the activities they brought with them.
I initially thought such a pan-European structure would be far away, and in a world very different from mine. Once I joined I discovered that it was populated by people much like me, even if still quite different. If you ask me about my experiences with SALTO, I would say it is people like Giselle, Anita, Gabi, Paul, Salvi, Snezana who inspired and impacted me the most, not big European programmes or frameworks.
Before the SALTO Rome event, I did almost all of my work locally. Although in Italy we do not have a national youth strategy, my organisation – Studio Progetto, very active at local level and at European level, always considered it crucial to link local youth work to European one. SALTO provided a broader connection to other realities and other worlds, and a very important frame of reference. I find SALTO both local and global in its work, connecting community-based work with what is happening elsewhere.
Eventually, I decided to become a trainer and applied for a SALTO Training of Trainers course. This was a great learning curve for me. I was not very experienced with self-directed learning, and I really enjoyed the approach the ToT trainers took to this. At first, it felt like coming to a library and not knowing which book to read. Step by step I learnt how to be in control of my learning and also started using this approach in my training.
On one of my recent projects, I had two learners who were circus artists. Not knowing much about circuses, I thought their work was largely based on creativity and free thinking, but I learnt that there are a lot of firm processes and rigid disciplines in circus work. I was very happy to apply self-directed learning methods in my work with both circus artists and to see how they embraced more flexible approaches to learning. I see myself as more of a labourer than an artist, but in my eyes SALTO’s approach to youth work – combining freedom and responsibility, allows you to ‘write your own poems’, so now I am a bit of a poet too.