Aladdin: genies old & young making the lamp glow brighter

By August 10, 2016 Features No Comments
The Erasmus+ project Aladdin & his Intergenerational Lamp aims to connect older retired or inactive individuals with younger people with low levels of language, education and aspiration. The older generation are trained to engage the at-risk youngsters through storytelling workshops, which also encourage a sense of belongingness and sharing of cultural differences. In this way the project hopes to develop greater acceptance, understanding and appreciation between the generations whilst enhancing skills, employability and ambition. Our Aladdin team recently joined partners from France, Hungary, Belgium, Spain and the Netherlands in Budapest for a week-long working meeting:

Having the title of Project Manager on this amazing EU funded project, Aladdin, has its ups and, it must be said, downs. I relish the chance to work with people. People of many diverse backgrounds, ages, walks of life, across many different countries across Europe. As part of my work I also have to organise others doing the same thing. The organisation is hard, unthankful work. I’m used to being a Storyteller or Storytelling Coach or Father Christmas (true Personal Story for some other time).

Superact had chosen two other people to join me on this trip to Budapest in Hungary. First was June (she prefers Julia! She was born in July!!) For the Aladdin project June fits the Older Person category perfectly. She is a Senior as Aladdin speak goes. She is of a certain age….oh, stop it! See, that’s the thing: being a Project Manager alters my perspective to one of ‘Target Groups’. Me, myself, I went to Budapest with June – a lovely lady. I won’t put June in any box: she’d jump out of it anyway. Smiley, giggly, up for adventuring.

The other lovely person was Daisy. At Uni over in Amsterdam, Daisy fits the Younger Adult, Young Person and, as Aladdin speak goes, Youngster profile perfectly. Oh, do stop it!! Daisy (and her generation I’d wager) doesn’t need fitting in to any boxes either.

Both June and Daisy brought their own fresh wisdom and insights very eagerly to this part of the Aladdin path. They were a delight to be with and a pleasure to work with. (Hope I was too!!)

The three working days were a mixture of Admin, Storytelling Workshops and Next Steps. For me, I preferred the Storytelling Workshops, two of which were in 30C heat in an outdoor Budapest Theatre. Such fun, both of a serious and silly nature. The Admin and Next Steps were necessary: I’m not a natural administrator. Maybe others would think of the money and run?

Later on in this project we will see some 8 Older People (in the UK) being trained to lead Storytelling Workshops to some 20 Younger Folks. *Penny drops* Ahh, Intergenerational Storytelling! That’s when the hard work of Admin will have been worth it. They will gain new skills, perhaps even take up a new path. Perhaps June will be part of it! Hope she will be *Smiley Face*

To be amongst other brilliant people from the Netherlands, France, Catalonia and Hungary is simply a privilege. To have the same ethos, that of lifting people with creativity is quite breathtaking. The city of Budapest itself? Stunning, majestic, relaxed and somewhat oldy worldy. The people are lovely, though I would have liked to see more Punks or Goths or people with mad coloured hair.

Oh, and we all mentioned Brexit. All week. Mention it here? No way. This is not politics, this is real people working with other real people to help more real people better themselves. Thank you EU, Erasmus+, for funding this!

If you are South West-based, work with people 55+ or 18-30 years old, and would like to know more or get involved please contact me on stu@superact.org.uk

Stu Packer, Resident Storycoach

Reflections on Aladdin in Budapest – from the token ‘Oldie’ of the group: 

From the start this was a project of coincidences – the first of which was that both Stu and I were starting from the same area of South London – Crystal Palace – even if we actually live in the West Country. We gelled very quickly in spite of the span of years and chatted easily until we met Daisy at Liverpool St – and then it was the chat of 3. Our expectations seemed similar though from differing perspectives – much was to be achieved in 3 days!

On arrival we had a quick meet up with Dutch and French contingents, to catch up on the interim for
those who’d met up before – and intros for those who hadn’t. We also experienced a touch of Budapest nightlife, even on a Tuesday – obviously a vibrant city.Wednesday brought the first experience of Budapest transport which seemed very efficient – buses and underground were tasted on our way to meet up with our Hungarian hosts – a delightful experience. On arrival at the venue, very quickly down to business and the meeting of minds was evident.

All were keen that the project was driven forward effectively and different modalities were explored, according to the Country concerned. Very evident that common threads entwined throughout and this continued throughout the meetings held. Concur with Stu the effectiveness of borrowing a ‘real’ stage for an afternoon lending a note of reality to the proceedings. Recall also, singing in Catalan in order to learn a few words of that language – had to think very quickly in that scenario. Our hosts introduced us to many aspects of Budapest and the Hungarian way of living life – and the weather introduced us to other aspects – probably more extreme but just as varied as British weather, surprisingly.

Much was accomplished: the project is alive and well and being introduced to many different communities in the countries involved – France, Netherlands, Hungary, Catalonia and UK – bringing together communities and the telling of the experiences of the Oldies to the youngsters in the various locations, that the latter know and can benefit from knowing this.

In summing up, this is a great project in which to be involved and seems to be proceeding according to schedule in all the countries involved.

June Pither

Am I a youth at risk?!

As a relative newbie to Superact I felt honoured to be accompanying Stu and June on the Budapest Aladdin conference. Being the token “Young Person” of the Superact team, it was my job to represent my risky generation as best I could.

The trip to Budapest with Superact was my first real contact with the #AladdinProject. Start as you mean to go on, right?! It was an immersive three days of meetings, workshops and exploration with an international crew. The collection of different nationalities seemed to match up to my own experiences of wanderlust, having spent a year in Paris, Ville Lumière, and now living and studying in the super gezellig Amsterdam, it was great to be able to share stories of trials and tribulations about life in our respective cities! We were also joined by a charismatic bunch of Catalans and of course extremely well looked after by our wonderfully hospitable Hungarian friends. What an excellent, diverse and intergenerational bunch we were!

For me, participating in the world of Aladdin offered a refreshing outlook on the opportunity to use creativity as a catalyst for integration and community building. As a university student I find myself in an environment where these creative and interactive possibilities are not celebrated and utilised enough, preferring instead to use academically reliable methods (oh, how I love referencing)– perhaps the Aladdin genies can shake this up!

The Budapest trip really made it clear that it doesn’t matter where your story comes from, be it very personal or simply anecdotal, the important part about telling it is opening up a communication between people who may not otherwise stumble upon an opportunity to interact with each other. In the storytelling workshops I realized that the art and process of telling a story is often more therapeutic than the happily-ever-after!

I can’t wait to share more experiences with this amazing and talented group of people… and make the Intergenerational lamp glow bigger and brighter!

Daisy Corbin O’Grady

For more information visit www.aladdinproject.eu or contact stu@superact.org.uk