- Volcano of energy and ideas, all of which must be done NOW
- The opposite of patience
- Traveler and thumb rider
- Loves working with people, dance, and move
- Committed to human rights
- Typical Italian sense of time, easy going, no rush, maybe one day
- The opposite of fast
- Frisbee enthusiast and green thumbed
- Loves working with people, possibly with a beer near the ocean
- Committed to good food
Change 1 – Beginnings
They met in Aveiro, Portugal where she was on Erasmus and he on his doctoral studies. It wasn’t love at first sight, they met quite often at various events. The spark came on one of the Erasmus party, around 4 AM, when most of people left. In that moment stories about dreams, about Kilimanjaro were flowing (www.przekroczycgranice.zhpwidzew.pl). Only then it started, slow but unstoppable, like a ball on a inclined plane: it took several months just to meet for coffee. Everything happened during Anna’s last five days in Portugal. Endless conversations, all-day meetings, a sudden feeling deepening with every minute spent together. Five intense days were enough to make Anna starting to think, on coming back to Poland after one year absence, how to return to Portugal. Two weeks later, Anna hitchhiked throughout the whole Europe, to find herself once again in Aveiro. She spent three more weeks with Andrea. While she was leaving they knew that this was just the beginning of the story. A difficult story, though, as the first year passed in long distance relationship, somewhere between Poland, Portugal, and Italy. Weekend meetings, eternal longing, problems with Skype. And that was until July 2012, when they decided to put a stop to that …
Change 2 – Stabilization (?)
Their life together began with Camino de Santiago. After charming meetings every now and then, suddenly they had to deal with mutual presence 24/7 under the enormous fatigue and the challenges to be faced along the Camino. It was not easy. In fact, without exaggeration, it was very difficult. However, they entered into Santiago hand in hand, knowing that nothing could defeat them anymore. And their life together was marked by the Way. After Camino there came a time of relative stabilization, if three times moving residence could be called stabilization. From Bologna to Warsaw, passing through Verona. Along the way, both of them abandoned their learned profession: Anna, while living in Italy, had to switch from psychology to teaching English; Andrea in Poland resigned from chemistry to teach Italian. Languages slowly began to master their professional and non-professional life …
(Ex)change 3 – Languages
Teaching languages was not bad, though something was missing. Teaching a language for the language itself did not change the world. From the beginning they had in mind something like a school where the language is only an excuse to talk about important social issues. Finally, on January 2015 they started the sayBabel workshops which, on the one hand, allow participants to practice their language skills and, on the other, spread knowledge and tools in areas such as responsible consumption, human rights, or soft skills. Babel means for them not only diversity, but also the belief, overcoming barriers, a joint effort. The workshops were based on “tips”, so that one pays as much as she/he could and wanted to. Anna and Andrea also started to use the possibility to exchange, since money is not the only way.
Next weeks passed and the stabilization began to bother them a little … It is difficult to say where and when exactly the idea of going around the world popped up. One day it was simply there, impossible to ignore. SayBabel was changed in moveBabel. But how, where, and for what (money)? Initially they thought about dropping everything, going to the Middle East, earning enough savings and then start traveling. Yet, from the very beginning something was wrong with this idea…
Exchange 4 – Eureka
The idea came up one evening in March. Anna was heading for a meeting with her friend, thinking as usually about the planned trip, when she got a flash of inspiration: what if instead of earning more money we just spend less? If we offer our knowledge and skills in exchange for a place to sleep and food? This will not only help us to save money, but will also allow us to truly enter the community, breaking out from the stereotypical role of tourist. Finally, to undermine a system in which money is the sole determinant of success and condition for realizing dreams.
Anna excitedly reached the meeting room to talk with her friend Ela about the new idea and the travel planned within few months. But before she could speak, Ela revealed she had an interesting proposition: A friend of her from Ashoka, the NGOs which support changemakers, is looking for a project coordinator for the Changemaker schools …
The vision of our travel still needed several weeks to be developed and clarified, but the idea of CHANGE and EXCHANGE met at that very moment. EXCHANGE as a method for traveling, CHANGE as a goal. Not moveBabel, but exchangeBabel.
Want to know more? Go to How to (ex)change the world.