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ADVENTURE IN ITALY.

In January 2024 ITF announced a new Erasmus plus project " Inclusive Greening Excellence in the African Education and Training Ecosystem ( GEAVET) " and little did I know it would be a life changing experience for me, filled with unexpected and unforgettable moments. After much planning for the Kick off meeting in Padova, Italy  and the uncertainty of an approved visa, the day to travel was finally here and I was ready to embrace the unknown.


Safari Mugenya at Bolzano
Safari Mugenya at Bolzano

You are probably wondering who I am and where all this is going. My name is Safari Mugenya, the Head of International Relations in ITF. The projects coordination falls under my department and  in case you are wondering, the answer is yes! This is the first Erasmus Plus project I am coordinating. Now enough about me let me tell you about the actual experience. 


We started our eight hour journey to Amsterdam at midnight and all I could think about was  get to Italy. It was my first time traveling to Europe and all I could do was imagine the different cities and streets I saw on Netflix. Finally the plane landed! Transit! We had two hours of transit and just when I thought that was enough time for us to get our passports stamped and sight see a bit, we were met with  longest queue one could ever imagine at the immigration desk, but at the end of it all we made it to our flight. Italy, here I come. 


 As  I stepped off the plane at Marco Polo Airport in Venice, I was instantly swept up in the atmosphere of anticipation and excitement. Everything felt new and exhilarating, the air was totally different from the normal air back home, this sounds like a joke but really it felt different. Before I take you through the wonderful views. Let’s talk about the transport system in Europe. 


I was really amazed at how efficient and convenient the transport system was, yes I got confused for a moment, trying to book a bus in Italian is really not my cup of tea. Our final destination was Padova, a town almost 45 minutes away from Venice. We finally got our bus tickets from the customer service desk and we were ready to go. 


 As we approached Padova, the historic city began to reveal itself, boasting centuries-old architecture and a timeless charm. I was overwhelmed but excited, my phone was constantly capturing views and beautiful moments, because you really haven’t traveled if you don’t have the evidence. At least that’s what Gen Z believes. 


Settling into my accommodations, I wasted no time venturing out to taste the local cuisine. The culture shock that got me was unforgettable. Unlike the restaurants back home where food is served any time of the day, breakfast could be dinner and lunch can be eaten as early as 11 am in Italy things are done differently. Food is served at specific times of the day lunch will be served only at lunch time and dinner at dinner time no in betweens. It was 3p.m and the hunger was just something else, it wasn’t time for dinner but we could always get a Pizza. Have you really experienced Italy if you haven’t tasted the Pizza? 


 Navigating the city was not as challenging as I expected, google maps came in handy but yes we still got lost on the first day of the project meeting. We had a brilliant idea of walking to our meeting point. It was 30 minutes away and what better way to experience a new place than walking through its streets. We got to the exact area but locating the actual building was a hustle. We got assistance and after 10 minutes of roaming around, here we were seated with our fellow partners ready to start.


Between project meetings, we had a chance to experience the lovely city and even travel further to Bolzano, a village inside the Alps Mountain and what I saw and experienced can only be explained through visual presentation. On our trip to Bolzano, a former ITF volunteer hosted us and gave us a taste of German culture. Bolzano is in Northern Italy but is highly influenced by German language and culture. This experience took our trip to a whole new level. 


Reflecting on my time in Padova, I realized that my first trip to Europe had surpassed all expectations. It wasn’t just about completing a project; it was about immersing myself in a new world of flavors, sights, and experiences. Italy had captured my heart with its passion for life and its celebration of simple pleasures.



Safari Mugenya with GEAVET partners on women’s day. From Left: Gaia (Eduforma), Marta (Eduforma) konstantina (EKS), Bosede (OAU) Regina (EKS),Iva ( SKINK) Safari ( ITF)

As I boarded the plane back home, I carried with me more than just memories; I had a newfound appreciation for exploration and the transformative power of travel. Padova, with its pasta and piazzas, had opened my eyes to a world of possibilities—and I couldn’t wait to embark on my next adventure.

Running the International Relations department so far has been an incredibly rewarding journey filled with both challenges and triumphs and not to forget the exciting opportunities that come along with it.  The dynamic of this department opens us up to interacting with new people, different organizations from all over the world and fresh ideas. This process encourages  renewal and growth, keeps the  team vibrant and adaptable, ensuring that we remain at the forefront of international engagement. 



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