Yunie Chae

Going back to the very beginning—I remember myself being immediately intrigued and prompted when I saw Eva’s post on Rietveld Facebook page. If I remember correctly, it was an open call, “for anyone who likes to sing.” And as always, my insecurities were telling me the next moment, that maybe it’s not for anyone who just likes to sing.

When it comes to participating in a large group, I become filled with contradictions. As verbal language and communication takes quite an effort for me, I find myself doubtful beforehand—on my commitment and role within a group. Especially when it comes to political and social terms as this refugee issue—I knew I felt very attached and emotional towards it but did not know how to express them. There was this fear but excitement and thrill at the same time that kept me hesitant in making a step onto this stage that I have always imagined of being on but stood hesitant towards, but as cliche says, I felt like now or never.

The week here in Gran Canaria passed with days quite opposite from my expectations in the beginning—to be frank—with the lack of political and formal learnings or even informal learnings we could have gained from each other despite our different levels of knowledges. I think there could have been a better structure that could provide more of a
platform for discussions or cognitive activities that are actually regarding the refugee issues. And in moments where these issues were touched upon and could have been lead on to something deeper it always faded away without much engagement from the participants.

The week—the project as a whole felt more like a cultural gathering of different European countries sharing their nationalism and emphasising and glorifying the radiance of their countries rather than revealing, for example, some of the more dark or vulnerable reality regarding the refugee issues or their positions that we could lay our critical eyes on.

I do also understand that not so much is not possible in only a week, and with the disappointment aside, I am grateful enough to be able to connect with the indescribable nature here in the island—the happiness that the waves, the sand, the stones, the trees provide that you cannot really describe in words. I literally witnessed something that I would not even imagine of in dreams—a “desert” meeting high waves. And of course, these experiences were enhanced owing to Eva, Laura, Mette, Ilona and Lauritz—people who I did not know at all but became so close during this one week, outside of the context of school, the Rietveld. And I will never forget those sensations I had in moments of singing everyday and night—jamming on guitars, kahoon, a spoon, a plastic bottle—whatever instrument we could find and make out of—screaming until we finally lay in our bunk beds at 3 AM.

Truly amazing and will be missed so much until next time.

By Yunie Chae, age 23, from Amsterdam, the Netherlands