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Dreams?! Stepping out of the comfort zone

29 September 2019

Today is day 3. We have been out to the community before, we have walked the streets of Bad Gandersheim blindfolded yet hearing, smelling and feeling this pretty town, we have talked to total strangers out on these streets. We found many beauties, made connections and had challenging conversations as well. But today it’s different. After I just had a very personal talk with one member of our group, they are putting out the challenge for the afternoon. We shall go out and talk to people about their dreams. Now, I’m German and doing this in Germany feels like it comes at an extra cost of knowing before hand that we Germans don’t talk about dreams. With strangers, at best, we talk about the weather. And if we talk about our community, often times we only share what could be or was better back in the day. I must admit, the other day we had some conversations that went in another direction, that actually sparked some connections through sharing real beauties. But dreams!? I start asking myself what I myself would reply if someone stopped me on the streets to ask me about my dreams… When was the last time I had a clear dream I could share? On my mind:  questions instead of answers, while my group starts heading out. And honestly, I think to myself: Great! I’m the only native speaker here, so they’re expecting me to do the talking. 

While I’m still caught up in my thoughts and we get stopped by a red light, Giulio’s eye catches a couple on the other side of the street crossing, a little blonde girl and a man with an army pattern backpack waiting for the walk sign to turn green. “Why don’t we start with them?” Giulio suggests and my head starts firing a thousand reasons a second at me of why we should not start with them. They are probably on their way to something, parents don’t like it when strangers start talking to their kids on the street, etc etc. And then there is my little magic moment, that still makes me smile today the way I smiled when it happened: the little blonde girl waves at us from across the street; our walk signs switch to green at the same time and we meet them naturally on the opposite corner. Sophia greets us with her loveliest smile and a lively Hello, hands her ice cream over to her uncle and starts chatting away with me. Her uncle just picked her up from the kindergarten and doesn’t have any problem with us talking to her. He even asks about the Oasis Game.

What I took away from this moment apart from a big smile on my face, is the learning that it can be so easy to make someone else feel comfortable enough to actually step out of his or her comfort zone and go for a real connection, to share something as precious and personal as a dream. Sophia’s waving invitation and her full attention (even giving up her ice cream so she could focus on us) was all I needed to silence my fears and doubts for the moment. Even though we couldn’t realize Sophia’s most immediate dream to go and play with her that very second, we were ready to find out about all the other people’s dreams who crossed our path that afternoon.

Fast forward to our last day. It’s Monday night and the space we use for our meetings with the community is packed. All chairs and sofas are occupied and some even took a seat on the floor. Whispered translation into several languages is notable. We have reached the Re-evolution stage… The hands-on over the weekend has left us all tired but beaming with smiles. Two miracles happened: a vibrant pop-up living room on the main square of Bad Gandersheim and the dream of a  community garden was transformed into colorful reality. We’re meeting once again to talk about the next steps towards dreams coming true and also to say farewell to a place we call home now. When Arzu steps up to take the microphone, all I can think of is how shy and insecure this Turkish lady from the community met us in the beginning. And still, she offered us everything from cooking a soup for us to using her family’s tools. Now, she is confident she wants to speak up, in front of everyone, to thank the group. Earlier that night she had asked me to help her express something in German and there she goes with the small pink post-its in her hands. Arzu made a bracelet for every participant of the European Oasis group with two beads: one has the shape of a windmill and the other one is a flower. She hands them to us with the following words:

“I want to give you this windmill so you can feel the wind in your back and not confronting you. It’s a nice breeze and it gives you power to move forward.

And I want to give you this flower to thank you for everything that started blooming with your support like a flower in the morning. This is a nice feeling.

You shall take the wind and the flower to your country and your city.

Thank you! “

We thank you, Arzu, and all the people from Bad Gandersheim for this amazing experience in your community!! It was a pleasure and we hope you keep on dreaming big!!

by Rebecca (Participant OASIS Learning Village)