Recent opinion polls paint a bleak picture of Spanish young people describing them as disillusioned by politics, suspicious of social programs, imprisoned by an uncertainty that shatters their dreams and hopes for the future. They would appear to be practically an “existential periphery” abandoned to itself.
And yet, during their recently concluded long tour, Gen Verde came across young people who were upbeat,resourceful, hoping to live meaningful and generous experiences, while at the same time accepting the challenge they bring. The group brought their show “On the Other Side” featuring the “Start Now Project” to a number of Spanish cities.
Its tried and tested formula, involves five days of living together with young people. Three are dedicated to workshops where the band – made up of 22 people from 14 countries – work on singing, drama, percussion and dance. Then there is one day for rehearsals and the show, which they put on together with the young people. The last day is to share feedback on the experience lived together.
These are moments in which everyone has an opportunity to experience fraternity, to see with their own eyes that what they are looking for exists and can be achieved.
We can definitely talk about a before and after the workshops,” affirms Sally McAllister, the Irish manager of the group. “The young people work hard, not just in terms of preparing a performance, but on relating to each other as well. They meet those who are different from themselves, and they learn how to manage the cultural complexity of the people they interact with, and how to appreciate the positive, enriching values. So the goal is to enable them to have an experience which is enriching for them as human beings, as well as artistically, so they can become people who are able to welcome, understand and value others, whoever they are. They pass from a sense of insecurity, fear, and even hate sometimes, to attitudes that are based on trust and inclusion.”
Gen Verde are not offering a pie in the sky illusion, but ideals and tools with which to build the world we all dream of -starting here and now with each person. And everywhere “young people are like fire – all you need to do is provide the spark, and who can stop them once they set aflame?”
And so it was along the various stages of the journey: Burgos, Jaén, Murcia, Huétor Tájar, Albacete, Pozuelo, Bilbao, Pamplona, Azpeitia, Talavera de la Reina … each with its own colour and unrepeatable characteristics, as we can see from the news on the Gen Verde website.
These authentic exchanges were welcomed enthusiastically everywhere, such as at Huétor Tájar, where the bienvenida (welcome) came from a square teeming with families, youth and children, with music and songs from the group on huge screens. At the end around 30 of the youngest students from a school of flamenco and rhythmic gymnastics danced to a flamenco version of Gen Verde’s new song “Turn It Up.”
A country of sad, hopeless young people? Anything but, the feedback says clearly.
“I cried, I smiled, I danced… but above all I came away with a great hope in a world that really needs it.” “I learned values without anyone telling me what to do.” “After just a few days of work it felt like we were a true family.” “I discovered that people who work for a common goal are more open.” “There was nothing theoretical; all together we put into practice the values of fraternity, dialogue and sharing that we learned these days as we worked.” “Start Now is something fantastic, a project that is educational, social, cultural and spiritual.”
The words that best sum up the legacy of the tour come from one of the many young people Gen Verde met. Simple and tangible, they express both achallenge and a commitment: “If we have a dream, we don’t want to achieve it tomorrow, we want to do it today, if we possibly can.”