The project for us, three Armenian beauties, started with a ten hour minibus ride from Erevan to Kobuleti and my suitcase flying out of the bus in the middle of the road. Luckily, nothing happened to my things while I suffered a mini heart attack entertaining the driver and my fellow passengers. Quite an ice breaker I should say. Our ride consisted of kilometers of exceptionally bad roads, constant temperature changes, interesting conversations, driver’s philosophical monologues, Mariam and Ksenia’s loud laughing sessions (seriously guys, the way they laugh can bring a dead person to life and fill you with a positive mood for years to come) and absolutely GORGEOUS Caucasian scenery! Only from this ride I have enough #tbt pictures for many decades.
We were one of the first participants to arrive at the location of the training course, so after checking into our room and getting to know the organizers we obviously ran to the sea which, very conveniently, was of 3 minute walking distance from our staying place. During the dinner we met other participants and instantly bonded with everyone (a very good ice breaker was the fact that everyone was melting under the hot Georgia sun). They were an open minded, outgoing, spontaneous, smart and active bunch of awesome people from 8 different countries (Estonia, Italy, Ukraine, Armenia, Hungary, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Germany) who made our project days full of cheerful and bright atmosphere. Just to give you an example, in the middle of the night Dato and Nuka, our new Georgian friends who we just met 5 minutes ago, startled us with an invitation to swim in the ocean at night which we of course accepted (I promise, it was safe, we took a flashlight with us).
We had absolutely great guitar evenings at the beach, local market exploration and bargaining and long interesting conversations. Moreover, Ksenia, Mariam and me had a chance to experience local Georgian hospitality, we got offered fine Georgian vine as a compliment from a café owner (who couldn’t resist Ksenia’s bright smile and sparkly eyes), flattered with constant compliments from the hotel staff and just in general were surrounded with a very cozy atmosphere that made us feel welcomed in Kobuleti.In the framework of the project we had one day excursion to Batumi. Shortly after our arrival to the city we got under the heavy rain and hid from it in front of the strip club which we became aware of after seeing a great display of golden women’s private parts on the walls and confused look on the face of the concierge when we ran towards the building. But besides that in Batumi we enjoyed authentic Georgian cuisine after which it was hard to breath, let alone run from rain, and managed to walk and explore the city center.One of the most rewarding parts of the project for me was bonding with the participants, not only international but also with my teammates Mariam and Ksenia. We shared so many great experiences together that made us so much closer. These ranged from searching for a place to eat to helping Ksenia get through chickenpox that she suddenly got in the middle of the project.
This training course surprised us with the level of intensity and quality of the information we were receiving during each session. There wasn’t a day when we didn’t learn something that made us have even more questions. The trainers were extremely professional and helpful. Even though, during the training we received a lot of new complex information it didn’t feel heavy on our heads since the delivery was very entertaining. The piece building and piece keeping themes were extremely relevant given the current situation in the world which made the project even more effective. It was very interesting to do the activities with the participants from Azerbajian and despite the language and culture barriers alongside with tense political situation, to see how our perceptions of each other change.
This project made us further realize the importance of honest and comprehensive dialogue as one of the most powerful tools for piece building, conflict resolution and peacekeeping. We learned about different types of participation and the importance of active participation in the local communities. Also, we had a chance to take the role of trainers and conduct a whole training session with activities, reflection and presentation of new information, ourselves.
Through this activity we grew so much and really fixated what we learned throughout the project, overcame the fear of public performance and gained valuable experience in preparing and conducting a training session. It also made us realize how hard of a job is to train youth from different countries and also the value and efficiency of nontraditional education. The multicultural environment of the participants, the newness of the activities and academic competence of the trainers made a perfect combination that resulted in a very productive training session with lots of challenges, gained experiences, realizations every participant made for themselves and the establishment of new bonds and friendships. At the completion of the program we all agreed that this was one of the most rewarding experiences in our lives, as in just one week we became more aware of other cultures and traditions, their foods and customs, learned a lot about ourselves and the world. Also, we further discovered our strength and weaknesses, started questioning many things that prior to this experience we just choose to accept as well as became more inspired to make changes in our local communities and promote the ideas discussed during the training course.