Here the first report from Kobuleti (Georgia) wrote by Daniele (the Reporter) during the training course “Volunteering: a Youth Empowerment Instrument”.
Hello everybody, it’s Daniele here and I’ll tell you some stories about the project “Volunteering: a youth empowerment instrument” which takes place in land of Georgia. This Training Course, organised by the Georgian Academy for Peace and Development and the Italian organisation Vicolocorto. It aims to train 21 youth workers and active activists of associations from 6 countries (Italy, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Portugal), how to use effectively their potential as an European and local volunteers. The education methods will be based on non-formal activities, like discussions and debates, group work, simulations, role plays, and workshops. The training will be run by two coordinators experienced in volunteering, international youth work, and work of civil society organisations.
Before going into the topic, I would like to share some episodes related with a voyage to this absolutely interesting land. First of all: the experience of travelling with the “bosses” of Vicolocorto Laura and Daniele: It’s not the first time I go abroad with them separately, but I never experienced the journey with them both combined! Even if it could sounds pretty scaring at the beginning, everything went easy, also thanks to our “father” Daniele who led us safe through the hard decisions people usually have to take when they’re at the train station or airport, if turn left or right and which gate to go and when to board. It’s a good feeling when you can travel switching your brain off! In the meanwhile, the other boss Laura was sleeping in every corner she found, no matter if it was train, airplane or bus, just give her a spot were to put her head.
In the airplane to Istanbul I’ve met one of the Italian participant, Jolanda, thanks to the lucky coincidence that we were sitting next to each other. We both were impressed by the brilliant marketing idea of Turkish Airlines to put a flight attendant dressed as a restaurant chef! It was so smart that I couldn’t sleep at all in that flight cause it really captured my mind! On the opposite side of the coin I have to admit that the food was really good and the wine as well. I wasn’t prepared to have free alcoholic drinks in the plane and, honestly I enjoyed that privilege, it made me feel like the Hank Moody of Californication.
At Istanbul airport, Laura, Daniele, Jolanda and I, we met the other participant, Irene, and as we got to know,at the same gate there should have been also Eduardo (last member of the Italian group) waiting to be board on the plane to Tbilisi, we start a game called “Eduardo challenge” to guess who was he between that multitude of people. So who was the winner? Me, of course!
Anyway, after our endless trip we reached Kobuleti in the morning and I could get some rest before starting my reporter work. The rainy weather helped my decision to go to bed instead of visiting the Black Sea, which is really a couple of steps from the place where we stay. In the afternoon all of the participants arrived to the hotel and we started to introduce ourselves either in the dinner time and in the first short activity of the schedule where the coordinating organizations welcomed us and introduced to the project, explaining briefly some basic rules.
All in all the evening continued in more informal manner at the seminar room: some chats, role games and traditional dance workshop. Me and some other participants went outside to explore the Monday nightlife in Kobuleti. We found a place that I cannot define as restaurant or bar or club, maybe a mix of everything, where not so many people where standing and dancing to some commercial house music. When the music switched to the typical Georgian one, some random guys appeared monopolizing the dance floor with their strange movements. I was staring at them thinking, honestly, they were kind of loser while dancing without any girl around, but after a while I was impressed for how much they were talented and all together, even despite the lack of women, they were setting up a good choreography. It was a quite pretty cultural experience indeed.
The next day started with the usual activity to get people to know each other, using some funny tools and games. Participants enjoyed that moment which is generally a way to brake the ice that usually appears when you have to socialize with unknown people.
The morning passed quickly to the second phase: the expectations part. I got some help from Zarina, the participant from Armenia who told me something about herself and her feelings:
“I’m 18 years old, the youngest partecipant of the project. I’m volunteer in the armenian organization APY and, as always, I noticed a very interesting training under Erasmus plus programm on our website. The topic, country and partecipating countries became the reason why I applied for the project. My expectations are to get to know new people, to learn different cultures, to improve language and to obtain different skills. It’s my first international project and I’m really excited about all the process. Everything is new for me and I’m sure that it will become a really great experience for my future life. I always follow the saying: <<don’t try to imagine what will happen. Just best expectations make the expected days worse>>, so I try to get pleasure of every moment, I try to figure out the secret spirit of such kind of projects and I try, of course, to get more knowledge about volunteering sphere.”
After a fast lunch and some steps barefoot in the Black See, it was time to come back to the afternoon activities, which consist in the Groupbuilding. The coordinator proposed a game oriented to make the participants accomplish some tasks creating spontaneous groups of work. That was, in my opinion, the most meaningful part of the day because, through a simple tool, a lot of aspect of each personality came out. In fact the game brought the group from a good, smiling and relaxed atmosphere to the frustration, anger and pressure, typical for a situation of lack of success. The goal was basically to create a situation where the game is not a game anymore. It turned to be something serious and stressful. It’s where the different personalities clash and, as a trainer, you have to know how to manage with your own feelings and how to deal with those personalities.
When the activity ended it was time for a reflection. And this is what our friend Lidia from Portugal told me:
“Today we had the opportunity to do a teambuilding exercise. It was a chance to take our group out of the comfort zone and to see how much we are cohesive. Would we work as a group or as an individuals? That was the big question. It was interesting to observe the different feelings we experienced during this activity. Some of us felt anxiety and under pressure but on the other hand we were satisfied (or fulfilled?) because we manage to complete a not easy task. Different personalities and cultural way of working. We needed some time to understand the activity, but the most important thing that allowed us to be successful was that we worked as a group and we tried to understand each other and accept the different suggestions. We were tested and we succeeded! Thank you to be such a diverse and tolerant group!”
After the dinner we had the intercultural night! Well, for our livers and stomachs it’s always something complicated to deal with, but it’s worth for the amount of delicious food and good drinks that you taste! I won’t forget for example the Armenian sweet balls with nuts and their bread that reminds me a lot our typical food called Piadina, the Portuguese fish and Ginja, the wines from Azerbaijan and most of all, I can’t forget even today because it’s still knocking to my stomach’s door, the chacha from Georgia… basically, the nectar of Devil!
Like the previous day, the seminar room turned to be a dance floor, and the intercultural dance workshop begin again, led by the participants from every country.
Time has come to say goodbye, for now. Stay tuned people, there are other six day of project to describe soon!
Daniele (the Reporter)