6 Dec 2013

Mochalisebi Rustavshi

by Eva Čajková

Seven new volunteers rolled up to organization Georgian Youth for Europe in Rustavi on October 1st so they sumed up the number of volunteers there to the number of nine (including one girl with nine month's experience of EVS service and one Peace Corps Volunteer). We are living in two flats next door, everybody has his own room, as promised. Moreover the apartments are in the same building as our office. Thus all seven of us EVS volunteers are fully occupied by each other. Together. All the time. Briefly check your secondary school math knowledge, combinatory, to get quantity of relationships which we have here. 28. It is not possible that something piquant won't appear or as the case may be something even sharper...
Before we left our countries, our sending organization equiped us with various adaptive techniques and reminded us of: culture shock, non-formal education, bla bla, ble ble. One of such an adaptive techniques coul.d be applied on relations as well. First days we are sucking energy of that buddies, we are pumping passively their experience, picking up information about their past life (no doubt: it's necessary to get to know everybody, get under one's skin if we are supposed to spend one year together), everything is so fresh, so amazing, so many new interesting people which you simply want to include to your life! Everybody is so spontaneously creative, so many deep ideas, they have lived in every possible place all aroud the world. Wow!
Together we are exploring the mystery of this curious coutry. "Hey, are you also scared of children who call adult males 'mama'? And do you think, that toilet paper is as exotic as bananas that it should cost as much as gold why, the hell, is it so expensive? And for that matter the milk of cows which are grazing everywhere (hard to say what they can find on that parched ground) is expensive too. Does some magnate monopolize the pumping of milk through some huge pipes running to Russia? The situation is exactly like from a scene of a utopic novel. All of us are Alices in a Wonderland. Together we are writing a story.
Sharing the first impression with people who came from similar conditions is irreplaceable. One can feel like it's not possible to adapt here, and may even feel like he/she does not want to do it. The language sounds... let's say very unusual; ordinary european appearence makes more attention than one would like to. When the water comes to visit our neighbourhood, the gas packs its luggage and takes also the electricity on a honeymoon. The basic stereotypes of behavior are disappearing, one can't understand georgian time measurement, not even why he/she is paying half a lari for a kilo of tomatos once and second time it's for two and half lari; working mechanism of the world get deteriorate completely when one realize, that the internet no longer servs humans, but humans serve to the internet. In these times, it's really mamazing that everybody is in tune and swearing on the same high frequency. As all of them shared an elation in the biginning, they could share disappointment of trifles later. But still, it's fun because these are just a trivialities.
Later the relaxing phase comes, when you don't think that it's impossible to identify with some cultural issues: moreover you realize that it's somehow necessary if you want to have a great exciting year in Georgia! After a few weeks you are already inside ordinariness, no more feeling like an alien and it's high time to start your "georgian" life. This phase, I'm defining subsequently: when the taxi's or marschutka's speed is under 100 km/h you begin to be nervous why the driver is dawdling like this, we aren't on a school trip, yeah? You don't care than that the same journey would take one hour in Europe, of this phase we are in Georgia now and here it should last only twenty minutes. The second signal is when you start to negotiate prices on markets using russian-georgian-english and you are insanely happy when you agree price from thirty to twenty eight.
Nevertheless in this phase of becoming independent we are starting to be more self-critical and critical to others as well: still we are together all the time, we know seemingly everything about families, studies, travels, we have created an image of one another. We dare say we know others, for now we are exhausted of each other, after overcoming some of the prejudices, images, obstacles negative or possitive we still need more time, also to get to know whether or not our characters suitable. So far there is nothing to offer reciprocally. It's becoming boring; prayer wheel, mirror, urge of private space, no new inputs, no more flow of new information, not even our time spent together is so cool, so rare: here we are with space for creating conflicts!
Suddenly you perceive impulses somehow more itensively as if the flu strikes you, more annoying then before, that one speaks too loudly, this one is histerical, that one is too assertive, this one too little on the other hand, that one used to eat my bread, this one wants to quit parties soon, that one is too wild, this one is hopelessly nice, ...
To have On Arrival Training after two months of volunteering sounds quite awkward and ridiculous to me and most people agree. But Georgia is penetrated with surprises, so that it is not so big surprise when something surprises you un/pleasantly. It's not completely nonsensical to participate in such a training after you have gathered some experience, you are able to name the problems you are facing daily but still have no idea how to handle it. You already know what to ask for and what is more you find out that there is kind of "normative" set of problems which European volunteers are sufering from in Georgia (and Armenia and Azerbaijan). Trainers know exactly, which solution they can offer to us and how to present this deals in "european way" to us. Everything is clarifying, the atmosphere so familiar, the shower with constant water temperature refreshes the spirit of individual but also the spirit of old good volunteers from Rustavi.
The resurrection of the old atmosphere is returning: they are kind of family to me already, they've really got under my skin, simply I count on them in good and bad as well. Do you know that feeling if somebody is so close to you so that anything he does, fleeting glance, one word, small gesture can make you extremely happy or on the contrary extremely sad? So that's how I feel about my co-volunteers my family.

17 Nov 2013

Round-trip 2.11.2013 Green Monastery, Vardzia, Rabati, Sapara, Borjomi

by Eva Čajková

This trip wasn't concentrated only within one day. Laura and Christine planed it for weeks. We rather prefer to call it excursion cause it was really kind of educational. It was a really full day which might seem quite exhausting and I must confess: first I didn't like idea of such a day. However now that the trip is over, I'm grateful to have participated.
I simply want discuss the facts about why we visited each place (Green Monastery, Vardzia, Rabati , Sapara, Borjomi). They were all so interesting, amazing and all other imaginable superlatives ‒ no need to highlight the facts that you can very simply find online. For facts just click on links above. But if you interesetd in my impressive diary style, you've came to the right place.
The day started in the time which I am used to count to the previous day, departure at 7am means waking up at 6am which I consider as a sleeping time sticked to the yesterday. Let's talk about marshutka experience for first time: it's always like drinking energy from tank ‒ you can't fall to the lethargy. One (except Georgians) simply have to be vigilant while sitting in marshutka. Naturally we rented "our own" marschutka with "our own" driver for such a trip so the aim was to occupy every simple chair. So finally there was really various composition of participants: "pure" Georgians, EVS volunteers from SIQA, EVS volunteers of GYE and Peace Corps Volunteers (from different organisations).
So, there were more fields for exploring: historical facts, current-day culture (concentrated mostly in our driver) and comparing the variety of volunteers's experiences.
Our first destination was Green Monastery, a calm and peaceful place close to Borjomi. There I had first opportunity to watch and listen (!) to a Georgian church service. Well, as I'm not informed enough yet, I can't even judge if it was actually mass or if they were preaching at Green Monastery 24/7. Still I have another eleven months to find out how churches works in Georgia. So far it sounded like the recitation of complete list of georgian names again and again and again in metronom allegro rythm.
Our second stop was Vardzia. We spent more time there than at other places because it would have been a pitty just to fly through. This cave town is really unique and; moreover, it's really an adventure to explore all these mysterios holes while thinking about the purpose of each hole; walking down steep and totally dark steps carved of stone, imagining that this is how the path to the hell looks. Unbelievebly charming!
The next place on the list was Rabati. While walking zig zag through this huge complex, I remembered the passages from my reading on postmodernism. Pastisch. Asamblage. New and old at once. Rabati is under restoration. I guess they are trying to be authentic and historically correct, but still such an old buildings seems to loose some of its aura if the bricks are clean, wood is not rotten and metal is not rusty. Nevertheless it is not such a surprise that Rabati is such a culture mix (within the complex there is a Church, a Mosque, a Minaret and a Synagogue). It can seems to be  somehow unsuitable in the context of its Georgian Orthodox surroundings. Let's keep in mind that Georgians is at the cross roads of cultures and still manages to keep its own so proundly and strictly; so I must confess that the allusions on postmodernism are very often on my mind.
After visiting Rabati we traveled to an Important world heritage site. Sapara Monastery is a registred UNESCO site. Second time that day we were part of mass and it was really useful, kind of getting hope to live again after that crazy ride in marshutka up to hill while getting dark. I felt unesthetised by listening to russian pop and  looking out of the window to the deep bottom of mountains.
The idea of such a round-trip wasn't accepted very possitivily when it was announced. To imagine sitting half a day on a tiny marschutka's chairs, marathon running through monuments, and not even beeing able to breath the atmosphere of places ‒ what a school trip! But as the collectiv saving goes of  "if him then me too" is true, finally all GYE volunteers joined the trip. It was exhausting, but after that day I felt really satisfied and that is the best evaluation of all.

12 Nov 2013

Levan in Latvia - story of my EVS

So it’s finished, my nine month project in Latvia. Country of beautiful nature and amazing sky. It wasn't always so easy to be amazed about country and people, but time made me understand its culture, habits and traditions. Now it feels like I am home, another home which is far from real one. It is so strange how my life changed last nine months, I learned how to live with less, how to communicate with people better, traveled more than I expected and meet interesting people.
My EVS project started in October 2012, for the first time it was quite hard to feel cozy in Latvia, without speaking language, understanding people and more weird was understanding the weather which was quite strange for me. It didn't take much time to start to communicate with youngsters who were coming to youth center, and now after nine months I feel that they are my friends. Every time I went somewhere for longer time and came back they were the ones who were asking: Levan where have you been so long?

My main activity to youth center was making video workshop, and teach how to make good quality video. It was quite interesting for starting, we were making short videos on almost every second class and also in the end we tried to make silent film, which might be considered biggest challenge of my EVS. Yes, I guess there is not bigger challenge more than working and filming outside for hours in – 15 or even less.

My planned kind of sport activities such as tennis and table games competitions, and also cooking workshops were quite famous between kids. Every Monday and Thursday I was seeing children motivated faces, and in their eyes I could read one thing, they all want to be winners and champions. I guess it was good start for them to motivate themselves that they have to be winners, and all life is fight for success. So, I’m finishing my project and I have to fight for my own success.
It feels like starting from zero, after nine months of being cast away from rest of the world I have to go back to normal life, to my family, friends.  I guess the experiences which I gained from my EVS project, will be useful, especially language skills, but I feel like it’s not the end. Everything starts right now! 

Levan Jugheli

Duration of EVS service 01/10/2012 – 30/06/2013
Hosting organisation: Alūksnes Bērnu un jauniešu centrs (www.abjc.lv)
Sending organisation: Association "Georgian Youth For Europe" (www.gye.ge)
Project was supported by Latvian National Agency of Youth in Action programm

1 Nov 2013

First impressions - Coming to Georgia
by Eva Čajková

On the 1st of October, fate-destiny day for another 7 people, seemed to me kind of cutted. One moment in my home, my bed, with my family cut Vienna airport, all kinds of people cut Kiev airport, all kinds of stereotypical eastern elements cut high magic peaks which I've known just from kitsch pictures in my homeland. But yeah, guys, I finally believe that I will live in Gergia for a year... and I'm pretty sure that it will be a great time.

Moments before landing, only a few hundred metres above the ground, I still wasn't very calm. From my small oval windows, I could only see land, cows and a few woodden shelters. What's going on? Are we landing on a field? I've just tried to calm myself down by thinking about whether or not it would be a field of potatos or corn. It was concrete finally.

Before departure from Czech Republic, I was warned about culture shock. Well, it's quite impossible to avoid, everyone should have some, it's natural and actually it's quite a nice experience. My culture shock was like a big injection of adrenaline. My culture shock lasted just twenty minutes. My culture shock was the journey from the airport to our flat in Rustavi. Everything seemed more that good there were two very nice guys waiting for me on time (!) helping me with luggage. I finally felt the real Georgia: sitting in a car with a Georgian driver. After he drove for a few metres, I was wondering why I was telling my friends and family 'See you again', because I felt that I would definitely not make it out of the car alive. Believe it or not, after one week here I really enjoy the driving manners.

Our first weekend was really amazing. GYE (Georgian Youth for Europe in Rustavi) staff prepared a lot of fun for us. Already, on the second day they took us to pick grapes and afterward we took part in a real Georgian supra. Great teambuilding!

People here really seem to know how to live, how to enjoy life. Even though it's not easy here, often beeing without work, from time to time without gas, water or electricity, they are still such an easigoing, smiling and happy people as far as I've seen. I really want to be part of this culture for at least one year.

I am pretty sure that I'm speaking for everyone of the seven people when I say: We Love Georgia!

10 Jul 2013

EVS в Латвии

Про EVS я узнал от друзей а мои друзья узнали об этом проекте совсем случайно. Сначала я не верил что может существовать такой хороший шанс познакомиться с другими странами. Но потом, полтора года назад два моих друзей уехали в прибалтику и приняли участие в проекте EVS.
После этого мой интерес возросло и я приехал в офисе Georgian Youth for Europe, организации которое курирует такие проекты. Там меня встретили очень хорошо объяснили все детали, и дали все информацию которое для меня было интересно. После этого визита вопрос принять участие в проекте или нет был рещен. Я подготовил все документы и уехал в Латвию, точнее в поселок Адажи где расположена свободная вальдорфская школа.
Здесь и начинается самое главное, мое незабываемое приключение. Сначала я немного волновался не знал как примут меня, "простого мальчика из юга там в далеком севере" но все мой волнения оказалис напросними. В течение моего проекта я познакомился с многими интересными людьми, с иностранными культурами, обычаями. Я узнал много новое и улучшил мое навыки в очень многих сферах, начиная с иностранными языками, заканчивая рукоделием.
Работа с детьми дал мне очень много, общение с ними каждый день делал меня гораздо богатым духовно. Общение с моими блестящими коллегами дал большой жизненный опыт.
Кроме этого я путешествовал очень много в разные страны и знакомился с разными культурами.
В конечном счете участие в этом проекте дал мне гораздо больше чем я бы мог ожидать. Очень трудно передать кратко мой чувство и настроение, это и радость вернутся в родине, и грусть покидать страну которое десят месяцов был второй родиной.
Я благодарю организацию „Georgian Youth for Europe“, который дал мне этот уникальный шанс. Также хочу поблагодарить JSPA, Латышского агентство международных молодёжных программ и всех людей которые помогали мне получить этот невероятный жизненный опит.
Я советую всем не упускать шанс и принять участие в подобних проектах. Познакомится с другими культурами с другими народами и расширить свой кругозор.
 С уважением Иовели Жвания


4 Jul 2013

Tusheti trip

The most remote and probably one of the most beautiful place in Georgia so far? After the last trip to northern part of Kakheti region the answer is easier than before. Definitely Tusheti. It is not only about the picturesque landscape and unspoiled nature there. What made the trip even more amazing? People and luck that we had on the way. Yes, we are lucky Polish bastards. But let’s start from the beginning.....

As usual we chose hitchhiking as a mean of transport. Went smooth and easy as usual in Georgia;) First stop we made was to have a look at Alaverdi Monastery. After a short sightseeing  we kept on going, still having a long way ahead. 

Next stop happened, a bit unexpected, already in Pshaveli, in the house of people that took us by their car...yyyy a small correction: some kind of vehicle that used to be a car. Without windows, back seats, partly without floor (I have no idea how to call in English this part of a car underneath your feet...) but still, as for its condition, it managed to take us quite a long way....

 After a small and unexpected coffee/lunch  break we continued our trip to get as far as possible on the way to Omalo. It didn’t go so easy any more. No cars on the horizon. It started getting late, and slowly we started losing hope that we would reach Tusheti that day. Having no better way, we put our tent, getting ready to spend night in the place where our vehicle had left us. But suddenly, out of nothing, we saw a car coming to our direction. So we stopped the guy. He was going to Dartlo. “Why not?”, we said. He agreed to take us. It was the faster tent folding ever. 3 minutes and we were already on the way to Tusheti. Long and bumpy way I have to admit. BTW: we saw a bear somewhere on the top of the mountain;) After more than 3 hours we reached Dartlo. Sleepy and tired as hell. Got off the car and saw and heard nothing. Literally - nothing. Just felt the temperature is not as nice as it was a few hours before....much more chilly. The first thought: “ *****where are we? How the hell we will put the tent when we cannot see anything! *****”. But I forgot it is Georgia so situation solved after a few seconds. Our driver invited us to his place. Actually - hotel, as we realized in the morning.

So we stayed there. In the end two days, exploring Dartlo and the strength of its chacha.

Actually mentioned liquid was the reason why we stayed there one day more than we planned;) As all good things come to an end, the time to say goodbye came soon and we needed to continue our trip.

Next stop – Omalo. Finally we did some hiking, around 20 km. This time we decided that we have to use the tent that I was carrying all this time! As soon as we reached Omalo, we chose the perfect meadow. Put the tent and try to fall asleep to start early in the morning another, this time longer hiking. 

Waking up in the middle of nowhere and seeing just overwhelming beauty and flock of sheep around you. Priceless. We started hiking without much hope we will meet some car on the way. Did some kilometres, stopped for a short break, ate something and start joking that just dancing can help us to find some lift from this wilderness. So we started. Believe it or not but again we heard a car coming.There it was: an old pickup. 

Funny way when you seat on the metal frames without anything preventing you from falling into precipice just behind u. Great feeling, especially when you suffer from fear of heights.In the end we survived, seeing breathtaking mountainous landscape, experiencing snow in the end of June and having cognac on the pick of the mountain. Safe and happy we reached civilization. 

Lucky polish bastards. I think our Czech friends – Eva, Libi and Petra, who had been in Tusheti one week before us and had to walk a big part of the distance on foot, can admit how lucky we were.

EVS volunteer

Human Rights Workshop

During last month me (Alicja) and Anna (SIQA EVS volunteer) were implementing the idea that Anna came up with some time ago – workshop on human rights. After a long time of discussing it, we finally came to an action. Preparation period took less time than I expected. Thanks to Alek’s help we found interested school very quickly and just after two weeks started work with motivated, smart and creative young people from school number 2 in Old Rustavi. 


During one month of working together, we had chance to discuss many different topic including general significance of human rights but also gender equality, citizenship or democracy.

All workshops were quite busy, full of interesting observations. Seems we managed to create some kind of open space for our participants to express their point of view and share experiences in different fields. More or less connected with main topic of our meetings.   

What to say, times flies inevitably and  with the end of the school year the end of our workshop came.  As a way to thank for active participation we decided to reward students with certificates. A small piece of paper which can remind them after some time about our work. 

All in all, seems that both of us, Anna and me can say that realizing this idea was one of the best choices we could have came up with and fulfilled. Wish it could be a bit longer. There are still some topics we would like to discuss!
EVS volunteer


31 May 2013

Kazbeg 5033m – unconquered
It was my georgian dream since I´m here. Reach the top of Kazbeg, biggest mountain in Kazbegi. It means not go just to this beautiful monastery. But still continue up and up and up somewhere in the hell. It was very difficult and because isn´t season yet, snow was everywhere, and more and more. And weather colder and colder. But perfect challenge for me. So bad weather doesnt exist, just bad clothes J. And I was ready for it. Unfortunately not my lungs. On the way to meteo station I needed one more for good breathing. I made five steps and then just stop and tried to breath. Sometimes I could make just two steps and stop. Plus I had heavy bagpack and sank into the snow all the time. Great walk. At one moment I was thinking if I can lie down to the snow and wait for I dont know what. But can you imagine stand up with this damned heavy backpack which was more and more heavier? I had to walk and silently curse which stupid idea I had. This meteo station is in 3700m with amazing view on Kazbeg. We cooked dinner and we were thinking about next day. It was hard for me to say but I had to admit that on the top I cannot go because of my breathing, I felt good just probably I have lungs full of georgian wine or I dont knowJ. I needed one more day for acclimatize but we didn´t have. So, next day I stayed in meteo station and my czech colleague went alone early morning. Anyway I had nice day. In meteo station in the morning stayed just one guide and me. Guide came wake me up if I want tea. So, he prepared for me very nice breakfast. He didn´t know english than we had to talk in georgian or russian. I guess, I have better georgian than russian. We were sunbathing in front of building because was very nice weather. And he had idea if I can teach them (4 guides who work on this basic camp) english, that they will pay me. Actually it was good idea, I liked it. But idea as I have to climb to meteo station again and again, I changed very quickly my opinion. And because I waited all day for my colleague, I had idea to teach this guide while I was there. So at the end I joined pleasure and useful. And it was fun. Then others georgians came and I had the strongest chacha ever. My colleague successfully returned from the top after 11 hours totally exhausted but happy. And I could just jealous. The same day we went back to village. It was more terrible than climb up. Never ending trip when we had to go down. Oh my god! In one day I fell down because of stones three times.

Still it was amazing trip but! I have to go back and this mountain conquer.

23 May 2013

Rustavi – 22nd of May

Finally after almost 6 weeks of practice and training at the scout centre we went for the first bike trip with the 'Wednesday' group on the public road: 12 'bichebi' (boys) and 1 'gogo' (girl). The participants from the Wednesday group are aged between 12 and 16 years old. Before we went for our big trip we practiced how to ride in a straight line (erti khazi) without overtaking each other. (Which some of the participants forgot about as soon as we left the scout centre :)

After the usual registration - where we allocate bikes to the children - we left the scout centre and turned right over the railway bridge towards the  other railway bridge.

We made a pitstop at the new park in front of the Metalurgical Factory, this park is named after the Geyder Aliyev and has been recently renovated with help from Azerbydjan. After a refreshing dip in the fountain, we continued our trip to the main square in old Rustavi, 'Meria'.

We ended our trip by cycling through the park along the river. This is the park where the bikes that we're using for the bike project were meant to be used. But the the park is still under construction, so lucky us :)

It was 12 (challenging) kilometres through Rustavi with 13 young and energetic Georgians and I have to say that I'm really proud of them. It wasn't easy to keep them in one single line but everybody survived. They all passed the test and are ready for the next trip.

Special thanks to Wahid for smiling all the time and Dato and Luca for helping me translating form English into Georgian.

Tijs – EVS volunteer at GYE

Rustavi on Bikes – Scoutcentre Rustavi, Balanchivadze 9
Wednesdays 16.00 – 18.00 (12 to 16 years old)
Saturdays start between 11.00 and 13.00 (17 and older)

8 May 2013


Monday, 22 April. It seemed to be like an another normal day. Another calm day in our Rustavi. In one moment everything changed. With the arrival of the French volunteer, cameraman Clément, who came up with the idea to shoot a video for The European Voluntary Service Film Festival organized by the French National Agency. As 2013 is the ‘European Year of Citizens’ young people got opportunity to share their vision of citizenship  and exchange view points on civic engagement.
So, what is your idea about citizenship? What exactly citizenship means for you? From the small play with words volunteers from GYE created  the name of their video: CitizenSHEEP. Bee-e (or me-e)? Now just to find a costume of the sheep, get the main actors, take a couple of shots and create a final video … and our own big georgian contest can start!!!

The competition deadline was set for Monday, 22nd of April, midnight of the Central European Time. On Saturday, when the video was recorded on the internet, nobody believed that we can find more than 700 votes in two days. We tried to make the best, but still it seemed that there is no possibility to overtake Hungarian video which was on the first positon. In about six o'clock this video disappeared   from web pages with unclear reasons. It was the real beginning of the competition!!! Almost all GYE members began bombing their FB contacts with the link of that glorious video:

Dako (22 duben v 22:31)
400 vote yet :) more VOTE PLSSSSS
Liene (22 duben v 22:32)
yeah, already 400 . We need at least 170 votes more. Use all web browswers in your pc for voting. You can give more then one vote by using the same pc. :)

The votes were sent from around the world:
Alberto (22 duben v 23:35)
Voted. Good Luck!! and Regards from Spain.
Di-Yana (23 duben v 0:04)
Good luck from Croatia.... !!!
Tamuna Tsertsvadze (22 duben v 23:41)
This is the most international EVENT I have ever seen ! :))
You deserve to win it guys ! ! !

The georgian dream seemed to be so close, tension started to be in the air:
Liene (23 duben v 0:56)
Is there any limitation how old video can be?
Ekaterine (23 duben v 1:33)
How many votes we need? :)

People didn't stop to send their votes, despite the late hours of the morning:
Madis (23 duben v 1:29)
Past 700 votes, its amazing :D

And in the end we were so close that … :
Tamuna (23 duben v 1:52)
We are leading !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Laura (23 duben v 2:04)
We won
Thank you soooo much....
Who can sleep after this??? heheheheheh

813 votes!!!! Only 14 votes ahead of the video, which appeared to be the favorite until the last moment! All this votes helped us to won the price of the Internet Aware Award - camera in the value of 250 € - and our movie will be screened in the European meeting “Video and Youth project : the Big Picture” in Montreuil (Paris), France.

Many thanks to all who shared, voted ... or just silently prayed. Our CitizenSHEEP drank for you on our afterparty!!!!!!

Here is the link for the video with english subtitles! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqsB00WR1OU&feature=youtu.be