By Santiago Villalobos, Portugal
I was looking for inspiration (and words!) to write this article, when suddenly I remembered the Danish slogan for our school
here in Ollerup – ikke uden risiko – which translated to English means “Not without risk!” In that moment, I thought that this could be a good starting point.
Being a student at Gymnastikhøjskolen in Ollerup (the International Academy for Physical Education) is more than just being a (good) gymnast with skilful motor controls of the body. An important part of the experience here is also about being aware that it is necessary to take risks in order to improve and then being willing to accept and learn from the mistakes you make. However, the meaning of Ollerup’s slogan can easily be transferred to our daily lives because it encourages us to leave our comfort zones!
Nowadays, Europe is experiencing the highest influx of refugees since the end of World War II. This is a global problem because people are leaving their countries with nothing except the hope of giving their families a better life, whilst accepting all the possible risks that can and will come. This is a very delicate situation because it’s not only the government who needs to do something about it, but all the societies, otherwise the integration is not possible at all.
Between 17-21 October we had the opportunity to plan and undertake activities with the refugees from the Asylum Centre in Nyborg and the Refugee School in Ollerup. Our main goal was to come up with activities in which we could relate sports and movement with integration and fun. Indeed, the preparation was a very interesting process because we are international students from all over the world with all different cultures and perspectives, so the challenge was to finalise a plan with distinct and intercultural ideas with a common purpose. We had to give these people an exciting and unforgettable week! In other words, we did what Paul McCartney once said, “Think globally, act locally”.
In spite of all fears in the beginning, we approached these people with love, smiles, and great positive energy. As a result, we received more love and smiles then we could have even imagined! Personally, I experienced so many feelings. I saw kids playing around and laughing, and in that moment everything seemed so pure and seamless. I also noticed that the adults were happy and relaxed, seeing their children and family having a great time without concerns, and most didn’t hesitate to interact with us. I really could see how powerful sport is for integration, independency, race, culture, age, and so many other variables.
While I’m writing this article, I realise that no matter how well planned an activity is, if we don’t believe in what we are doing, it is meaningless! If we don’t take any risks, people won’t be able to feel our love and energy! It is worth taking risks to bring happiness to people – but I can’t tell you how to do that; our beliefs are complete by our works (St. James)!
So, the challenge is to go for it: ikke uden risiko!
See more pictures from the activities at Imre Liivak Flickr profile
Find out more about how NowWeMOVE campaign organiser ISCA is working with the Integration of Refugees Through Sport