Learning to learn (could be painful but) it’s worthy.

               author:  Angela Maddalena

Hello everybody, I’m Angie, from Open Space Foundation, working on the No Hate Speech Project.

Lately, I have been introducing myself this way so many times that it has become a second nature.

Still, what does it mean for me? Most part of my life, I was an enthusiastic participant in women rights and LGBT community movements, but this is the first time that my standing on social rights field is not only a personal thing, it’s a job.

To work in the No Hate Speech project is slowly, but persistently, changing my ways.

In the first moment, it was really hard for me, and I’m going to tell you the tale of my own changing:

Leaving aside the linguistic difficulties I’ve faced in the first moments, forced to express myself in English, forced to leave behind me all the colorful metaphors of my beloved Italian, I’ve learn an important lesson: the way you express yourself is at least as much important as the things you want to say. But how did I came to realize it?

It was during one of our meetings; our group, both EVS’s and Bulgarian volunteers in the team, were spitted into little groups with the “mission” to product something concrete on the topic of No Hate Speech.

My group choose to create a Facebook page, called “Inclusion begins with I”, (here) about the really interesting topic of being included in our environment and society, the problems which may prevent us to feel part of it, and, of course, about how we make the others feel.

To create the page itself was easy: I’ve been studding journalism and creative writing almost all my life and one of the girls in the team, Shamusa, is a real Photoshop and In-design magician.

The problem, first time in my life, were the contents: I needed to change completely my normally harsh way in specking out my mind, according to the topic.

Never, before this moment, I’ve spent so much time mumbling words in my mouth, considering if and how it would have been better to find some synonymous or phrasal construction instead of one other.  This was the moment I realized how many war related metaphors I normally use in conversation and how cynical I can actually sound.

Being a young punk girl, back in the high school times, I’ve faced some “hate speech” problems and, mostly, I’ve had problems fitting in into my own environment. So, the topic was in a way related to my own experiences. Still, it cared my heart to prevent myself from shouting out every time we were discussing about a post on the page.

“come on”, I’ve heard my inner self saying “I’m not here to cuddle anyone”.

Only with days, working on it and listening to the other members of my group, i finally saw it in another light: to help people, according to our little possibilities and influence, is not just “cuddling” anybody. Yes, I’ve find my way out of the dark spot all alone, but it doesn’t mean i can not help people to feel even a little better. It was an important lesson to me, to become more tolerant, to have more patience, and to actually try harder understanding different points of view.

Now, I’m happy I’ve been part of this project.

To create the page, to deal with it, helped me find another side of my personality.

I’ve helped my self while trying to help others and I must say it feels good.

By now, the page is someone else responsibility, but I’m very glad i took part in it’s “birth” moment.

I invite you to visit it on Facebook, together with the other one, about stereotype origins and persistence in society, that other two talented volunteers of the Open Space Foundation have made: Plamen and Rosy created a really sharp, good looking and contentful page about stereotypes, touching the topic with classy style.


Take a look on both of them, on Facebook. They are just a first try, but in the same way the represent a big lesson in life. For me, at least.

Hoping not to sound too dramatic, i would like to cheer you good by with one of my favorite quotations: “the only frightening thing in life is fear itself”. So, don’t have fears and just try something new: it will make you a remastered/ better version of yourself.

The “Angie’s Blog” is a rubric led by Angela Madalena (Italy)

and is part of the project “Freedom of (Hate) Speech“. It is funded under European program “Erasmus+”,
KA 1: European Voluntary Service and Training Course for Youth Workers.

National Agenda for Bulgaria: Center for Human Resource Development