Embarking on the plane to Ghana, all we could assume for the long-expected trip was a week packed in images of women balancing large baskets of goods on the top of their head, cute babies with African braids tied on their shoulders with colorful fabric strips, vendors on a beautiful chaos that proves Gaudi an amateur when it comes to architecture and world-class marketers just schoolboys with much to learn from “informal trade methods”. And all those between speeches, workshops, exciting sessions and a bunch of photos through our pinkish glasses.
Sure, we love clichés but reality came into play with a lot other aspects as for both the conduction of the capacity building program and the local experience. And those two align perfectly on the project’s theme: Tourism. But what is T-Bridges and why did youngsters and experts from 5 European and African nations come together in Accra this September?
However hard it would be to sum up all the potential and objectives on just a few lines, known for my writing terseness, this mobility action aimed to promote inter and transcontinental Tourism between Europe and Africa through youth work on the field. That comes into play with the exchange of good practices, informal learning technics and discussions with academia, local practitioners and the civil society. Did I mention coffee? Yes, that is a vital element to keep the spirit on.
The majority of us work or are related to Tourism without that giving the sense of any homogeneity, which is a good explanation for how this week gave endless food for thought to all. We may have left with cement-strong, six-pack muscles from laughing but this was followed by brains that look like Mojo-Jojo at its best. (Note on those not familiar: 1. Reconsider your childhood, 2. That was meant to say Big Brains… a lot of thinking and questioning going on!)
Many thematic presentations took place from Experiential tourism till Dark (nothing to do with criminality, we promise!) and from gastronomic (right before lunch time) to… ouff… a long list! And then field trips, visits to universities, Ghana’s rich culture and heritage, dropping an eye to the rural part of the country on a joint activity with an agriculture project and exchanging phone numbers with the chief of this remote village. (Who knows, maybe having a cellphone was a qualification for the position!)
I might keep this text getting longer playing the mysterious card but I doubt listing down all things and moments of the seminar will be any productive. If I better choose some words that give this reflective slant, would be: creativity, multicultural, educational, exploratory, entrepreneurship, experiential, eye-opening, connectivity. To those and the “future spice” and the recipe is all yours. Future because this come-together did not come with an expiry date. Ideas and plans were overwhelming and each of us left with a different potential strolling around his mind. Africa and Europe felt and still feel closer, and tourism is an amazing bond, a strong linkage for our societies either on the visitors, the local’s or the professional’s perspective.
aimiliaOne way or another, T-Bridges was a gem not just in preparatory papers but in reality that came multiple time better than expected! Was it the vibes, the goals and the planning? Was it the Ghanaian hospitality, culture and welcomeness? Was it our curiosity and eagerness? Have yet to find out!
And all these when in a parallel world my classmates were talking Tourism development through a long Logistics lecture trapped in 4 walls.
Aimilia Tikoudi for Action Synergy (October 2016)

Leave a Reply