Travelling back to time
Today we were woken up by the bright sunlight picking through the windows. In terms of weather conditions it was the best day we have had so far, with high temperature and a clear blue sky. After two days of intense hiking, we visited a nearby village to see another big aspect of the life in the valley: typical Austrian structure of a house from the old times.
To reach the destination, Längenfeld village, we took the public bus and walked for a while to get to the complex of houses that was turned into a museum. During the walk an expert in local history joined us and shared her knowledge about the region. We learned that Längenfeld is in the third from five levels of altitude, among 20 villages in Tyrol. The expert also mentioned the importance of the river as local people had to adapt round its cycles, especially because of the huge flooding that occurred about 13 times since 1336, with the last one being in 1965. As a consequence of the flooding, the people turned to religion as a cry of help and that is why Längenfeld has a big number of churches in the village.
Reaching the complex we were divided into two groups to start a tour around the houses. The two buildings were similar; one of them was renewed and is now used for public events. The other one was still partitioned into the old rooms showing the function of each of them. The old devices and equipment we saw revealed the history and daily life of the people that used to live there a long time ago. It was quite easy to imagine how they worked as well as what they did during their free time. We were really amazed with the advanced technology of the machines that they made and used, especially when we saw the system of production of the flax was constructed up the hill using the water energy from the waterfall, which we saw from a close view. Again we had the opportunity to be surrounded by the beautiful nature and were amazed by the force of the elements.
Even though the waterfall made us day-dream, on our way down we could only think of the delicious lunch we were going to have, prepared by locals with local products. Saying that the food was great is an understatement as every bite was mouth-watering and unique. Everyone was so concentrated on tasting everything that for a moment the room was filled with silence! The local people made us feel welcomed, and thanks to them it was later easier for us to try to put ourselves into their shoes while getting to the next part of the program and talking about the labor market policy in Austria and Europe.
We were given a general presentation about employment and unemployment rates around Europe. We covered topics around youth unemployment, the percentage and the dynamics of unemployment in each country and liberalization of labor market. The information that we received resulted in lots of questions and vigorous discussion about the situation of unemployment in different countries. Obviously we talked about the differences in governmental policies and systems which influence the labor market in each European country. Our conclusion was that education is a key of participation in the labor market. Hopefully we could use this information in our future lives.
After the brain-storming talk we needed to calm down and relax. The following activity was perfect for that. We took part in an activity called "Take a Step Forward". We were given different life roles and were asked to put ourselves in the position described. We were asked questions and we responded with a step forward if the answer was positive. During the activity we realized that some of us, according to our imaginary economic and cultural status were moving forward constantly, whereas some people were left behind. That would suggest less opportunity, freedom and rejection.
The following quote from Christina will give you a general idea of the feelings that we experienced during the activity: “I was a fashion model with African background, which gave me an interesting feeling during the game. In my real life I feel quite privileged living in Austria, having a good job and family. I often asked myself how it would be to have less opportunities in life. Even though it was `just´ a game, I could get a little bit the taste of what it means to be restricted by origin, colour or sexual orientation.”
Maria Xantri (Cyprus)
Katarzyna Markowska (Poland)