This article is a result of a series of 7 interviews done to the 35 participants of Aroma: design the smell of challenge project — organised by Aventura Marão Clube in Amarante (Portugal), between 2nd to 10th July.  During 10 days, the participants from Greece, Romania, Italy, Palestine, Tunisia, Egypt and Portugal, worked together to organise a Bike Parade, an Euromed Food Day and support a local street festival called Festa Amarantina. During the interviews we had the opportunity to know them all better, find out why they chose to be a part of this project and how this experience turned out.

From Egypt we had with us Rasha, Amal, Noha, Radwa and Luka. A very joyful team who told us that the reason why they participated in this youth exchange was because they enjoy meeting and working with new people. They were eager to create something new, gain practical life experience and also improve their knowledge about the European culture and lifestyle. Not forgetting that they were very interested in recycling.

Egyptian team coming from Development no Borders organization

For Festa Amarantina the Egyptians brought with them their traditional clothes, music and dances. They thought some basic Arabic and showed how to write some names to those who were interested in learning.

When asked about the biggest misconception about their culture, the team told us that there is a lot of people who believe that the pyramids were built by the Jews. In fact, it was the ancient Egyptians who constructed these majestic structures. They also specified that although some people believe, the aliens did not have any contribution in their development. We found it very amusing.

Regarding the biggest differences between Egypt and Portugal the team said that they were very impressed with a lot of things – for example by the green landscape, the beautiful architecture, the narrow streets and how they are organized and by the Portuguese lifestyle, which they described as very calm and relaxed.

One thing they shared with us that might be surprising about Egypt is that there are actually a lot of Christians in their country, around 17 billion to be exact. It is a common misconception that people from Egypt are all Muslim. Another fact that you might find interesting is that when men and women meet in the street they never greet each other by kissing, they are most likely to shake hands.

We also spoke about the challenges that youth is facing in their country, and the team pointed the lack of jobs as the biggest problem. They feel that young people have unrealistic expectations after finishing university and don’t really accept the idea that they have to start with a low salary. Regarding this they think that the mentalities needs to be changed. However, in their opinion there should be some sort of training during university to prepare them to look a job. Also the companies should be more flexible and hire people without experience, so they have the opportunity to learn.

Interviews and article by Denisa Gavriloni
(Participant of Aroma Project)

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