Ilona Sābera – portfolio

blogging, journalism, semiotics, short stories


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Erased time

If one my previous reflection on political and social developments in Egypt followed Cairokee rhythm of music and lyrics, the soundtrack of this post will be Dalida. She an Italian Egyptian singer from 60-ties and 70-ties, longing for Egypt and the beauty of Alexandria.

Have you ever experienced a feeling when a certain period of time is erased from memory? When you return to a place that was once part of your well known routine and then all of a sudden the whole year spent away is shift-deleted? Continue reading


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How to fit in a different country? Communicate, get over disappointment and reinvent identity.

SONY DSCWhen Margarita from Happy Abroad, a website giving tips on living in a different country, asked me to write about Egypt, I could not decide where to start. After three years in the country and a marriage to an Egyptian, am I the right person to give general advice? Can I still retrieve the feeling when I first came here without any work, study or personal commitments? I must admit the more time passes, the more my eyes and mind get accustomed and it takes effort to remember what impressed or amazed me before. While the first year was the hardest, it was also the most intense experience. I want to focus in this post on internal struggles I had to overcome to fit in a new place, taking into account that each experience is deeply personal. I want to talk about psychological states and social factors I had to consider to live in balance and peace in Egypt. Continue reading


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Changing place and people – a solution or an escape?

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I am tired of fighting with people around me. I had a childhood dream to escape to a deep forest and live with birds and goats around me. I could have easily become a crazy cat lady and live happily ever after. I have a friend, a Latvian woman who, while witnessing urban expansion of my hometown Ogre, still struggles to make a living owning a small flock of goats. Every time I meet her, she repeats: “I love to talk to my goats more than to people”.

I need silence around me, a deep silence of a Latvian sunrise over the wheat fields. Just in this kind of silence I can hear my thoughts. Probably it is Egyptian constant fear of silence and empty places that makes living here so hard for a newcomer.

I tried to recreate a glimpse of my childhood memories by taking care of a ‘green corner’ on my balcony where I can lay down on the ground, watch plants blossoming and read a book alone. I can stay like that for days without leaving my flat. Continue reading


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Getting out of your comfort zone

Sharing our stories

I am going to tell you my story that brought me here, because I believe that we can build a common European future just starting from a personal level. So to share Europe, first we must share our stories.

Discovering people and places

Latvia’s territory is bigger than Belgium, but we are just 2 million people. So after knowing everybody in my country, I decided that I need to travel. I wanted to expand my worldview and just followed opportunities. Soon I realized that far more important than seeing monuments in European capitals is exploring personalities and lifestyles of people living there. And thanks to a really wonderful people I met on my way, I got inspired to move on. Actually it started when I was 15 and I took part in European Commission’s Youth Exchange programme were I spent unforgettable 9 days in Lithuanian countryside with the best people I could imagine. It was quite tough, we had to take a shower in the nearest sauna and cooked our dinner on the fire, but still I met so nice and funny Italian group that inspired me to start learning Italian. And finally after 5 years I fulfilled my dream and went to Erasmus to Italy and latter I continued my masters studies there. Continue reading


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Searching for the meaning

Being a semiotician makes me wonder about the meaning which is revealed in our actions, practices, relations and texts. What creates the common sense and what are the social dynamics of meaning making process? What is the broader meaning of the logic of a culture? These are the questions which attracted me in semiotics, but even if I found some instruments to apply in this personal research, I still want to go deeper, learning other approaches and exploring additional answers to my inquiries. Continue reading


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Famiglie ucraine di Bologna: incontro in chiesa e difficoltà del ritorno psicologico

Articoli pubblicati su Redattore Sociale qui, qui e qui

Logo Redattore socialeC’è un angolo di Ucraina nel cuore di Bologna. È la chiesa di San Michele dei Leprosetti, in pieno centro storico: qui si incontrano ogni domenica circa 400 persone, soprattutto donne, per partecipare alla messa in rito greco-cattolico, ma anche per passare un po’ di tempo fra connazionali. “Quando si oltrepassa la soglia della chiesa, sembra di non essere in Italia” dice padre Andriy Zhyburskyy, il sacerdote rettore di San Michele.

“La maggior parte degli immigrati ucraini sono credenti. Alcune donne vengono qui alle 8 di mattina ogni domenica e rimangono fino alle 7 di sera. Tutti qui sono ucraini, preparano il tè, mangiano i piatti tipici”, spiega il rettore. La chiesa non è solo un luogo di culto, ma un posto attorno a cui ruota la vita sociale della comunità: qui si può ricevere sostegno e ascolto, trovare lavoro, educare i propri figli e celebrare insieme sia le feste religiose che quelle laiche, come il giorno dell’Indipendenza dell’Ucraina (il 24 agosto). Nella chiesa di San Michele ci sono anche una biblioteca e una libreria. “Ma non vogliamo creare un muro”, sottolinea padre Zhyburskyy: “Noi siamo parte integrante di Bologna”. Continue reading


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Radiodervish, la colonna sonora di un incontro

Pubblicato su Assaman

“Mettere tra parentesi per un po’ il proprio mondo per ascoltare il mondo dell’altro, offrirsi all’essere esplorati e all’esplorare se stessi”: questo è il motto di Radiodervish, il gruppo musicale fondato da Nabil Salmeh e Michele Lobaccaro. Nella loro musica creano un linguaggio sperimentale che congiunge diversi orizzonti sonori del Mediterraneo. Arabo, italiano, inglese, francese e spagnolo sono le lingue che alternano nei testi poetici cantati.

L’immigrazione è il tema centrale non solo della loro musica ma anche della loro esperienza vissuta in prima persona: Nabil è di origini palestinesi, è nato in Libano e vive in Italia, Michele invece è di origini pugliesi, è nato a Ventimiglia e poi è tornato in Puglia. Ma i musicisti non cercano la chiusura delle radici che si può trovare nelle loro piccole terre di provenienza. Al contrario, credono nel potere creativo dell’incontro. Secondo i Radiodervish un linguaggio culturale universale che unisca i popoli sarebbe una soluzione anche ai conflitti politici. Nell’Italia di oggi è ancora più importante rendersi conto della realtà del fenomeno dell’immigrazione e scoprire quali possano essere le sue potenzialità, che spesso non vengono correttamente rappresentate nello spazio dell’informazione.

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Searching for a dialogue in a desert: hospitality of the Christian community at Mar Musa

Published on EMAJ Magazine

After a lonely and silent climb up the desert mountain, you enter an isolated microuniverse. A group of young people are clearing the table, others are cutting vegetables. Suddenly you are at the table, refreshed after a climb with some water, Syrian bread, tea and goat cheese are brought to the table by a volunteer of unknown nationality. Everyone here takes part in a system which hinges on solidarity.

The ancient monastery Dier Mar Musa el-Habashi of the Syrian Catholic church is located 80km from Damascus and 1320m above sea level. The uniqueness of this place  is due to in its hospitality: open to every visitor, from day trippers who come  to see the 12th and 13 century frescoes to the authentic spiritual pilgrims. Continue reading


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Eiropa – laboratorija nākotnes islāmam

Publicēts Satori

Kāpjot kalnā, jūtams tuksneša ieskauts klusums, un pēc laika tiek sasniegta ieeja izolētā mikropasaulē. Jauniešu grupiņa mazgā koka mēbeles, citi griež dārzeņus. Kāds uzreiz piedāvā jaunajiem viesiem ūdens glāzi, saldo ievārījumu vai sieru ar sīriešu maizi un tēju. Šeit katrs ir lielāka mehānisma daļa, kas darbojas tikai kopībā.

Senais sīriešu katoļu klosteris Dier Mar Musa el-Habaši atrodas 80 kilometrus no Damaskas 1320 metru augstumā. Vietas unikalitāte ir tās viesmīlība un atvērtība katram – sākot no garāmgājēja, kurš ieradies uz pāris stundām aplūkot 11.-12. gadsimta freskas, līdz svētceļniekiem vai jauniešu backpackeru pārim, kas te var pavadīt dienas un nedēļas. Šeit ikdienas darba ritms ir spēcīgi saistīts ar starpreliģiju garīgo dimensiju. Kristiešu mazākuma vieta Sīrijas musulmaņu kopienā ir dialoga radīšana, kopēju konferenču un svētbrīžu organizēšana.

Itāliešu izcelsmes klostera dibinātājs jezuīts tēvs Paulo Dalloljo (Paolo Dall’Oglio) atklājis klostera drupas 1982. gadā, pēc viņa iniciatīvas 1984. gadā uzsāktā restaurācija, kas ar Sīrijas un Itālijas atbalstu, un arābu un eiropiešu brīvprātīgo darbu pabeigta 1994. gadā. Šobrīd klosterī ir divas mūķenes un četri mūki, kā arī to katru dienu apmeklē vairāki desmiti cilvēku no visas pasaules, un šeit var brīvi un par brīvu kopā aizvadīt maltītes un diskusijas, lūgšanu un meditācijas reizes. Continue reading