Fly. A long long way. Taking with you a magenta message to be spread where we had never been. Load your shoulders with bags, step on buses, planes, cars, check-in hotels, fight the jet-lag, eat what you can when you can. Being tired, a luxury you can’t afford. Being stupefied by realities that until that very moment you had just heard of or seen on TV, something you can’t avoid.
A small introduction about the ITS# Presenting Tour: every year a group of EVErs takes a trip to a selected number of countries where ITS# has never gone physically, to present the ITS# project in schools and to international press. The presentation is organized more or less as follows: we introduce ourselves, show a short video of last year’s event, then go through a powerpoint presentation analyzing step by step every aspect of the event, and then we have a Q&A session. Presentation with the press is similar, only slightly more informal and based on Q&A. We do the Tour not only to present ITS#, but also get the chance to physically go in schools and see how they work, what their structure is like, meet the students, gather information and establish a warmer, closer relation other than just staying in contact via e-mail and phone.
This year, the Presenting Tour has took ITS# to Japan and India. On January 28, Barbara (our beloved chief), Fabio (Multimedia Office) and Michele (me, assistant of the chief) stepped on a plane with a load of bags, cameras, computers, press kits, ITS#THREE t-shirts, and lots more. Our first stop: Tokyo. The city is simply amazing with its lights and cleanliness and people’s politeness and the million other aspects of Japanese culture to study in depth. I would go on talking about the strange foods we’ve eaten and fast (300+ km/h!!!) trains we’ve taken, but we’re here primarily to talk about schools and students, right?
Students in Japan surpirsed us for their initial shyness: we would enter in the lecture halls, at times packed with students, other times with few of them (the academic year generally ends around the period we were there), mount our videoprojector, show the video and present ITS#, and then, only at the end, when they’d realize we’re close to them and to their needs, that we share their same dreams, would they open up their smiles and let their eyes shine to us and ask dozens of questions we would all answer, struck by their politeness and enthusiasm. Japanese creativity is so on-the-edge and unique in its own way. Certain things you just recognize them as Japanese, like their own way to give shape and form to abrupt digressions of the mind, obsessive care of apparently unimportant details…
We also had appointments with some Japanese press: So-En, HF, Ryuko Tsushin, Composite, Studio Voice and WWD. All of them demonstrated a great interest in what we do: some showed expressions of regard that made us proud, others, at the beginning apparently cold, would then fill us with questions and we would have really pleasant conversation. Barbara even had a high-level one on contemporary fashion with the editor of Composite, that left me and Fabio like "gee, the girl knows her stuff!!" The chief is the chief…
We didn’t meet any former finalist of ITS# in Japan: all of them are in Europe working or studying. So, our time over in Japan, we left for New Delhi in India with a desire for learning more about the land of the Samurais and a measureless interest towards this other, totally different world we were flying to.
The first impact with New Delhi is a hard one for a foreigner. The contrasts you’re forced to face are demanding for your mind and heart. You turn a corner, and poverty and hunger are displayed in front of you, and you can’t just close your eyes and pretend you don’t see. Questions like "am I not ashamed for always wanting to earn more, have a bigger house, while there’s people who have nothing, not even a bed to sleep or shoes to walk?" just run through your brains as fast as your eyes catching details, or the car that’s taking you to your destination. You turn another corner, and you’re thrown back a hundred years in the midst of a fabric and embroideries market, your eyes filled with colours, with a craftsmanship that the west has lost, and faces with wrinkles deep as their eyes…fascinating.
The schools keep that closeness to indian craftwork traditions, and their students keep in mind this lesson when producing their clothes. During our presentations in the schools we found the Indian students very prepared in terms of knowledge of fashion magazines and use of internet. They would look at us curiously and attentively while we explained to them about ITS#, and then would make very to-the-point questions, demonstrating a great maturity. In their eyes, as in those of the Japanese, the same will to express themselves.
We also had the chance to meet Arunabh, Amit and Ajit, former finalists from past editions of ITS#, and Darshan, who had enrolled in ITS#TWO. We had such a great time with them! They took us around, gave us a taste of what the real, "hardcore" Delhi is: we had crazy races on tuc-tucs (typical green-yellow three-wheels taxis, you can see a picture somewhere), ate spicy indian traditional plates, and went to the markets and a beautiful crafts fair. Thank you guys, you really made us feel at home, you were warmth in the heart!!
To end this short article, from which dozen other details I could have mentioned had to be inevitably cut out, I can say this: the Tour tests your nerves, twists your heart, opens your eyes a little more than they were before. You discover, you look, you meet, you respect. Then you mix all together and take it back with you. Your invisible luggage no one will check at the customs. Full of new experiences, of heartbeats. Of bonds with people far away from you but so close in the way they look at their dreams and pursue them. And you get back to your room’s mirror and see you’re not the same you were when you left. We thank you all, in Japan and in India. All of you who have hosted us and spared some time to listen to what we had to say. Thank you all. ITS also thanks to you.