Mariami from Georgia sharing her impressions about her first training course in Armenia

The expectation is a tricky thing; even only based on this word’s core definition, you can never be sure about it. I can’t be certain if intuition or gut feeling exists but the thing is initially I wasn’t even supposed to participate in this project; due to my hectic and chaotic lifestyle, I somehow missed the deadline for applying, but then suddenly from nowhere I felt an untamable desire to take part in it, so I wrote an exceptionally good motivational letter (which still remains unread), edited my CV and applied with a hope that they hadn’t chosen participants already and I stood a chance; unfortunately, they had, but, maybe it really was fate, I still ended up as a participant in this project, I’ll leave the deep details for myself, but will share one important thing I realized in this whole applying process – sometimes not adhering rules will get you further then simply obeying them, the problematic issue about this philosophy is that you don’t know when to risk and when to restrain yourself. Armenia was going to be the first country I needed my passport to visit, obviously, I was excited! I promised myself that I would get most of the time I spend there not only seeing the landscapes but also experiencing the culture, talking to people, learning the language a bit, discussing socio-political situations, historical relationships with my country, etc. and now as the project is over, I can proudly say that more or less I have satisfied my wishes.

Naturally, I had content-wise expectations, the subject of this project was a quite sensitive one; the reason why this particular training course arose interest in me isn’t homogeneous; It is blatant that online hate speech is uncontrollably rampant; it is a hot issue that needs to be addressed quickly and properly. It is a severe issue that poses a threat to democracy and human rights; thus, it is a huge challenge to resolve this problem. Throughout our training course, using interactive, inclusive, fun but still laborious (in a good way) activities, sparkling dialogues among people of various nationalities, I believe that we got equipped with adequate knowledge and practical skills to work on solving this issue. I guess, the purpose of the project was fulfilled and everyone who devoted time, energy, and effort to this project becoming a reality and succeeding should be overjoyed themselves.

Just the same I had expectations and some fears about people, however, from the very first moment I met some of them, from the very first evening we gathered and introduced ourselves in a very organized but still fun manner, all my nervousness faded away. During these eight unforgettable days we lived in our small bubble, we became a very close community, a big family where everyone is included and everybody feels safe, heard, and appreciated. It’s very rare that you bond with newly met people so easily, but, I guess, we got lucky to find each other here and have an opportunity to create long-lasting connections, an international network.

Erasmus is really about people, and the people I met there taught me numerous life lessons. This trip was full of new experiences, new feelings, and crazy adventures. Impressions from the project will haunt me forever and, I reckon, it’s the same for the others. As this important part of our lives is over, I’m left with an odd mixed feeling of immense sadness and even bigger happiness. I suppose that I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that ever since we got to our homelands, we’ve been struggling a lot to readjust to our own realities and get back to our daily routines. Even though we all lead quite different and distinctive lifestyles, I strongly believe that in this technological era we will maintain our relationships. The only thing there’s left for me to say is that I’m forever grateful for every single one of the people I met there, this week and our precious cottage number 7 shall never be forgotten!