Travelling in corona-times: A new persepective

Every year GAME has the pleasure of offering a group of students an internship. This means a lot of fresh eyes and ears on the organization, which are beneficial in creating lasting social change through youth-led street sports. One of GAME’s interns is Rim Abdoh, who has joined the internship program in Tunisia. Read about her challenges that the current corona crisis has imposed on travelling abroad and the big adventures waiting for her in the internship.

Being in the middle of an ongoing pandemic, it is safe to say that nothing worked in the favor of Rim Abdoh and her plans on leaving Denmark for an abroad internship during COVID-19. After struggling with bureaucratic visa procedures, not being allowed on her first flight, almost missing her second, she finally made her way to the North African country, only to find herself in a quarantine period of seven days. Rim described these as some challenging days:

“For an extremely social person like me, who is always surrounded either by friends or family, the situation quickly felt like being in a prison.”

A new perspective
The quarantine rules were simple: staying in her hotel room at all times and having food placed in front of her door three times a day at certain hours. You can’t blame Rim for feeling as she was caught in a prison cell, but as she explained, she knew her quarantine days eventually would come to an end. However, the feeling of being restricted while overhearing the music and laughter of the people in the restaurants located beneath her window, made her reflect on the young people of Tunisia in a different way:

“During my quarantine I learned how important it is to feel useful and productive, and how hopeless and demotivating it can feel to wake up every day, without any progression and nothing to look forward to.”

The youth of Tunisia are constantly restricted by life circumstances, which they have no control over. The case is, they are living in a country where political instability and people struggling to make ends meet are common issues. Youth unemployment is massive, and there is a great lack of labor market competences amongst young people, because the education system does not provide kids and youth with the basic skills needed in a workplace, nor does it guide kids and youth in choosing a career path. Even if they finish university, it is a huge challenge for the young people to find a job within their field.

The glorified narrative of a more privileged life away from Tunisia is something that Tunisians grow up listening to and many migrate to Europe, hoping to create a better future for themselves and their families. But the stories of those who do not succeed do not reach the Tunisian youth. This is not a sustainable future for neither the Tunisian youth nor the country – and these are two codependent factors.

Holding on to the youth
Positive change has to start somewhere within this otherwise beautiful country and there is no doubt that the young people are the key to this. Rim has travelled to Tunisia to assist the volunteers and staff at GAME Tunisia in creating the social change needed to give hope to youth in Tunisia. The main task for her is to help recruit and train young volunteers as street sports instructors, role models and powerful citizens. The volunteers are called Playmakers and they will lead practices in street basketball, street soccer and dance for local kids in underserved areas in Tunisia.

Rim is no longer in quarantine and is already doing a great job helping out, giving hope, inspire and motivate the youth to be the change they need. And to eventually break free from their own quarantine.