Interview with Gioia Maria, a girl who organised artistic workshops with Gen Verde in Switzerland.
“How can I bring Gen Verde to my city?” is a question we are often asked. So, this time, we wanted to answer it from a different standpoint. We wanted this young woman, Gioia Maria (18 years old, Switzerland), to tell us how she, together with some adults and friends, organised artistic workshops with us in Zurich, her city, last December.
It could seem quite complicated and a little daunting to organise a Gen Verde concert or artistic workshops in a city (even more so outside Italy) but hearing how someone else did it can give us ideas, inspire or encourage us.
So, if you feel like calling us to go to your city but you are not sure if you can make it… we strongly recommend you read this article (right to the end)!
How did the idea of bringing Gen Verde to your city come about?
G.M: About a year ago, ten young people (between the ages of 14–16) from the Focolare Movement in Switzerland, including myself, visited Loppiano. While we were there, we spent an exciting afternoon with you, Gen Verde, in your headquarters. We sang, danced with you and you told us a little about your lives. That’s when the idea of inviting you to come to Zurich to do workshops with us was born.
After making the decision to ask Gen Verde to go there, what were the first steps you took to move forward?
G.M: I could not organise something like this by myself. So, with three adults and three young people we set up an organising committee. First, we looked for a place where the workshops could take place and then divided up the various tasks. I wrote invitations and created a flyer.
We all agreed that the costs should not put us off. We did our part and trusted in God. And, in fact, in the end we even raised more money than we needed, so much so that we were able to donate the rest to a good cause.
Who helped you achieve this goal? Who did you involve in this project?
G.M: This success was possible thanks to the contribution of many people. The organising committee accompanied me from the beginning, supporting me in everything. The young people of the Focolare also participated in the preparation. For example, colouring the buckets for the drumming workshop, inviting their friends and looking for sponsorship. Without the donors and volunteers on site during the workshop, this weekend would not have been possible.
How did you promote the workshops and involve other young people?
G.M: I created an Instagram account where we introduced ourselves and communicated how everything was going. We made a flyer that we printed and distributed and also shared on social media. Finally, we talked about the workshop with many people, friends, acquaintances and relatives. We contacted two radio stations that interviewed us to promote the workshops. And we also did fundraising through an online platform.
How was your experience with Gen Verde? Were you and your friends happy?
G.M: The joy in the faces of the young people was evident during those two days. During the workshops there was a positive atmosphere and a tangible sense of community. I received a lot of feedback and thank-you messages that exuded enthusiasm. On Sunday I interviewed some of the participants and the answers to the question ‘what message would they take away with them from the weekend’ touched me deeply. They all said that from now on they will look at the world with new eyes and more openness and that they want to be peacemakers for a better world.
What did you learn as a person during this process? Do you think working together for this goal helped your community?
G.M: As the organization of the workshops developed and matured more and more, so did I. I learnt many things: how to lead a team, how to promote something, etc. but above all, I made significant personal discoveries. Organising something like this, and witnessing the results, gave me great confidence and self-awareness. I realised even more how firmly I can trust in God and His plans, despite all the challenges.
The sense of community among us young people in the Movement and in the organising committee was also strengthened. We had a common goal in front of us, which united us and gave us a shared task. We had many experiences – fun, beautiful and difficult ones too. This made us stronger as a group and reminded us to think of others and to be open to everyone.
Would you advise others to go through the same experience as you?
G.M: I absolutely recommend this experience. The best way to strengthen a community is when young people can do something for other young people. It is very important for our generation to live actively, to be committed to others and to contribute to making the world a better place. Because it really is time! At the same time, to dialogue with many people is crucial, we got to know each other better and appreciate each other’s talents and abilities. I have been able to have deep and intense moments with God, with myself and with others. I learnt so much, which will be of great help in my life, therefore I wish many other young people the same experience I had.