Sergio Urso

Labourer to poet

Sergio Urso


How Sergio’s SALTO experience helped Italian circus artists understand themselves

My first SALTO experience was the Tool Fair in Rome in 2016.

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.

This helped me to discover the human side of SALTO.

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.

After Rome, I joined the SALTO YOCOMO training, which also helped me to develop my own competence assessment tool - the Molecola (molecule), which I now use in my daily work.

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.

Connection to SALTO:

Sergio attended a number of SALTO events including Tool Fair and YOCOMO training, as well as a SALTO Training of Trainers (ToT)

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