I woke up this morning with that strange feeling, like I crashed my body against a truck, last night. I don’t know why… maybe I just start to be old, maybe it’s the chacha, God knows? After having a light breakfast with sausages and eggs I reached the seminar room where the participants started thier activities. The topic of the day was volunteering. Coordinators, Laura and Giorgi, begun with a workshop about the meaning of volunteering- to define some limits in this concept. What actually can be considered as volunteering? I talked for a while with Jolanda, a participant from Italy who is a project manager in the association “Distriscio”, who told me what came out in the morning:
“In my opinion volunteering is a non-profit social experience, oriented to construct a more equal and inclusive society. We define the values that a volunteer should have to be considered a good one, like motivation, tolerance, respect, open mind, emphaty, altruism.”
Finally! Today was a sunny day in Kobuleti, so the participants could enjoy the Black Sea, going to the beach to have a bath. I joined them after my usual informal briefing with Daniele “The Boss” and I put my feet into the water to refresh myself. The panorama is really fascinating, with the city of Batumi in the distance, appaerently in the middle of the sea, looking the horizon in the left.
This magic moment didn’t last a lot, cause we had to come back to the seminar room and we were a bit late. In the meanwhile, the timekeeper of the day, Tiko (a participant from Georgia), was getting crazy to make the people respect the schedule. I was watching her doing her job with that regretting face like she was thinking “why I choose that???” and, from my side (pretty sure non also from her side), it was funny.
Timekeeping was one of the extra tasks that coordinator gave, smartly in my opinion, to the participants. So, every day there was some people dedicated to help me with the blog, to clean up the seminar room, to create and propose energizers, to animate the evenings and, as mentioned, to keep the time.
Anyway, when participants came back to the seminar room, they debated again about volunteering, using an exercise which the coordinator Laura proposed, so the participants should choose one opposite opinion and defend it.
After that, the other coordinator Giorgi organized a simple game where 8 participants, who were not allowed to open their eyes, had to stand up and spread, remaining in a limited space. Afterwards they had to form a line starting from the tallest ending with the smaller, without opening their eyes. While they tried to coordinate themselves, there was another group of participants who was watching the scene staying on the margin of the room. This task took some time to be accomplished and in the meantime people could experience some feelings. I asked Tiko, which was one of the “blind” persons in the game, to tell me what she felt:
“First of all I wanted to organize the development of the game because I felt I could do it. When I found Atabey, who was the tallest one in the game, I really felt I could manage to arrange everybody. I wanted to continue leading that but, suddenly someone started to be more active and he/she created misunderstanding situations. After that everyone was talking very loud and I had the feeling to be strict with them, but I didn’t want. So I calm down and follow the situation without lead anymore. What impressed me was that the people who weren’t playing had no reactions. I didn’t feel any comment or laugh or suggestion.”
Remaining focused in this very interesting game who had the main aim to reflect about inclusion/exclusion, in the opposide side I wanted to have a chat with someone who stayed out of the action. Irene, the Italian participants, told me:
“At the beginning I was just curious, then I started to look around to the other non active participants and I felt some frustration because I didn’t know what was our role. Plus we didn’t know if we could interact or not with the blind people and when I saw Pikria (one of the blind active participant in the game) standing alone and quite lost while the other were starting to organize themselves, I had this impulse to do something. So I asked to the trainers if we could interact or not with the blind group and they answered me in evasive way, so I stood up and tried to help them. At the beginning it was difficult for them listen to me because they didn’t catch who I was but later they accepted to be helped and also the people outside started to give some suggestion. I think it was a very good simulation of the reality when people with some difficulties have to face the world and how the world behave with them.”
After the session me and the participants went to the same bar we were on Monday. When we entered there was a 7-8 years old child playing bongo drums and after a while he started to dance with a friend of the same age on the empty dance floor. They were extremly good and coordinated, that kind of children,I think, could play and be good in every sport. And it’s kind of incredible how much the Georgian people use dance like a big, maybe the biggest, way of communication! Evening went on with music (questionable in my opinion, but I admit I’m always too much critical in this topic) and people of the group started to dance together (only) until midnight, not because we had no energies anymore, but just because the music had to stop at that time due to local laws, otherwise they could have danced for hours!
Time has come to go to sleep, so I stop writing and switch my brain off. I hope you enjoyed what you read so far.
Stay tuned for the episode 3.
Daniele (the Reporter)