This morning I woke up feeling a normal human being (and it’s kind of surprising) but with the song “Loser” from Jeff Beck stucked in my mind. I discovered later in the day that my optimistical prevision of good shape was a pure illusion, because I was falling asleep more or less everywhere as soon as I was sitting, so I started to write this post.
By the way the morning session started in the seminar room and the trainers lead the participants to talk about how to establish the profile of the ideal volunteer.
Carlota, one of the volunteers from Portugal, reported me what they did:
“Our task for today was sharing to our group how the volunteer that we are looking for is. To do it Laura was very kind and draw a cartoon so we could write what kind of knowledge, behaviour, skills and motivation we are interested in our future volunteer. Each participant presented their task and explained why the perfect volunteer should have some characteristics due the needs of the association where this volunteer is needed. In general all the participants think that some of the most important thinks about a future volunteer are responsibility, tolerance, kindness and motivation because these are the basic values that any association needs.”
After the lunch the group moved to Batumi, which is a seaside city of around 150.000 habitants on the Black Sea coast, and the capital city of Adjara, an autonomous republic in southwest Georgia. As soon as you enter the city you can feel a sensation of contradiction due to the architecture of the place. You can see these very tall buildings with unusual and very modern shapes and, just beside or under them, crumbling houses with ruined walls. The streets also are contradictory because some of them are, let’s say, under construction and some other are beautiful with accurate gardens in the sides. Anyway, I walked a bit with the bosses Laura and Daniele before joining again the participants. We discovered some interesting parts of the city and have a kind of debriefing of the informal side of the project in the meanwhile. When I met Edoardo, the italian participant from Perugia, he told some comments about the city:
“Batumi is an amazing city where you can spend good time with your family or with your friends! The beach it’s more or less similar to Kobuleti, full of stones! But except that, you can find a lot of attractions and souvenir shops for tourists. Batumi seems to be built for lovers because there are a lot of romantic places and monuments made for make photos with your partner! In the night the city become shiny because of the buildings lights. When we went to the restaurant it was very interesting taste the Georgian traditional dishes and discovered the Supra ritual. After ten toasts I think I was drunk!”
I also asked to Pikria, a georgian participant who walked around together with Edoardo, to share how she enjoyed the city:
“For me it was not the first time in Batumi because I have been already with different groups, but this time it was stunning to have fun. We were painted by Ukrainian street artist who made a caricature of me and Edoardo. It was emotionally for us! We make gifts to each other and and then we went in a bar because it was raining. Afterwards I show a georgian traditional dance for groups and we could enjoy the georgian supra!”
The tipical georgean dinner is much more than a meal, is an experience of life. They call it Supra, and the concept is to share emotions with people you care about, eat and drink together. At the head of the table sits the Tamada who is the person responsable for a right course of the dinner. He is the only one who allows people to drink and he decides when, standing up and proposing a toast. Every toast has different topic and the other member sitted in the table are invited to respect the topic in their conversation even after the toast. We had the priviledge to have Shota as our tamada and he led us trought a bunch of feelings who concerned peace, faith, family, friendship and so on.
The tamada can also invite someone to elaborate his toast, in fact he invited first Daniele (the boss), who was very good in that, and then Aneta. She was so kind to share her feelings with me and with the people who read this blog:
“Now we are here. We are experiencing. But we are also creating memories. Sad as it may be, soon we will part our ways and, although a little different than when we left them, we will go back to our communities.
We say that time is like a healer, because it heals all wounds. While it is true, I also think that time is a thief, because it gradually robs us of memories. Maybe not of general notions, but of those wonderful, vivid memories; the ones that at first seem almost tangible. And, even though we may try, there is really not much we can do to win this unfair battle. Skillful as it is in the art of making us forget, time robs us of memories one tiny – nearly unperceivable – piece at a time.
Today I have entered the unequal battle against time, because I do not want to lose anything from what we lived last night: the Georgian traditional dinner, Supra. At first I thought that we would simply have a delicious meal (which we did!), while having a lot of fun (check, check, check!). However, it did not take me long to understand that yesterday’s night was about so much more! It was about tradition, identity, culture, history, emotions, dialogue, respect, passion, love, friendship, memory, recognition… It was a wonderful journey inwards and an amazing opportunity for expression.
As the memory of yesterday’s night is still so vivid, it aches me to think I may lose some of it over time. That is why I enter the battle today and hope that I can hold on to as much of it as possible for as long as I can.
Thank you so much, my new Georgian friends, for inviting us to dive deeper into your culture.”
After the toast of Aneta a lot of participants followed the flow and they standing and saying something about the topic of friendship. I asked to Maka, a participant from Georgia, to share her toast with the reader of this post:
“Friends are very important for me. They stand by me in bad times and good times. Spending moments with them changes me with positive emotions. Traning courses are a very good opportunity to know new people and build friendships among people from various countries. I’m happy I met very interesting and nice people and I really hope to keep in touch with them”
Now me, feeling very miserable, comparing to Aneta’s communication skills in English, I would like to spend a couple of words about the Georgian food. I’m not a big fan of spicied food and, most of all my taste buds have some problems to tolerate the flavour of coriander, and it’s a kind of problem because Georgians put coriander everywhere. Despite that, in the tipical dinner I experienced a lot of incredibly delicious cuisine, both meet and vegetables. They prepared a tipical dish who consists in eggplants with nuts, garlic, onion and some spicies (including coriander of course, but in small quantity) that are amazing; we had also chicken and pork which were so tasty and so soft that they were melting in your mouth! Afterwards we were invited to another room where a georgian dance contest started, conducted skillfully by Shota and in which, after a while, every participant took part.
The dinner was for me a deep cultural experience which drove me in connection with my brain and heart, not only with my stomach. In the way back to the hotel I was feeling full of emotions and good vibes, maybe it was the reason why my mind started to travel through some aspects of my life and I felt positively melancholic for something that is not even clear. With this bitter sweet mood I reached my room, craving for a glass of cognac that has no come.
Daniele (The Reporter)