Bolzano life and a hiking tour with refugees

Bolzano is one hell of a place.

Surrounded by mountains, not even an hour away from the Dolomites. You have access to beautiful lakes, cute little villages, large forests and never ending vineyards. There are three cable cars only within city of Bolzano. More than 6 millions of tourists come to the region of Alto Adige every year.

There is a topic which is very sensitive in Bolzano, in Italy, in Europe and in the world. The topic of refugees. Millions of people have to leave their country because of various problems – war, economical problems, political tensions….all of this can force you to leave your country. In Bolzano, and in many other Italian cities there are plenty of asylum seekers. They live in different shelters in the surroundings of Bolzano, and try to settle into this society, find a job, obtain their documents and live a happy life. I am working in one of these shelters, it is the biggest shelter in Bolzano, with 105 hosts. Most of our habitants are pretty young, in their 20s or 30s. They are like us. They go to school, have an internship, work, fall in love, cook, spend their time on the phone… Girls like to take care of their hair and boys like to listen to music.

Refugees and volunteers on a hiking tour

Since I started working in the casa Aaron I am interacting with refugees every day. Some of them have been here for years, some of them came a few months ago. Their language skills depend highly on their mother tongue and their current motivation. You can see both. A French speaker, who speaks a basic Italian or a Hindi speaker, who already speaks a very good Italian, these are the two extremes. My personal goal while working in this house was to make the lives of the refugees more enjoyable. I praised them when they got good grades in school, I encouraged them when they did well at their job and I shared my tips and tricks for a great visit of Bolzano and its surroundings. Many people were interested in discovering the region, that is why I decided to organize a hiking tour in the mountains. First we took a train to Vilpiano and followed the way towards the Meltina cable car. After we took the cable car we started walking 12 kilometers towards San Genesio through the Passegiata delle Legende. Along the road we (surprisingly) did not get lost and we also tried some of the local wallnuts. On Sentiero delle Legende we met some “streghe”, dolls which are hanging on the trees and look like witches. I have to admit I was happy we took this road by day! At the end we stopped at the Gasthaus Edelweiss to enjoy a well earned cup of coffee after 3 hours of walking. After coffee we walked another half-hour down to the village, where we took another cable car. I enjoyed this day as much as I enjoyed working with refugees all year long.

~ Ivana

… Ivana finished her one-year EVS (European Volunteer Service) at the youngCaritas South Tyrol, she worked 3 days a week in the Aaron house, a refugee house and twice a week in an office of the youngCaritas. She is from Slovakia.