11 Dec 2018

Do I need a title?

Karola Polish volunteer: "It’s kind of amazing how a coincidence can influence one’s life. I’ve been thinking about European Voluntary Service for a long time. I knew that right after finishing my master’s studies I wanted to participate in an EVS project but I couldn’t find anything suitable for me. But.. Seven months ago, accidentally I found an open call for a hiking youth exchange in Scotland. It was my dream to explore this wild country. And the second thing.. guys… hiking in Scotland – one of the most beautiful places on the Earth – can there be something greater than this? So I applied and luckily got in. During the project I met a crazy Georgian team. I was fascinated by their love for the Mother Nature.. One night, when we were taking in our tent about our future plans and dreams I told about my evs idea as well, and suddenly Nana – my tentmate said “You could come to Georgia! We are having an open call for a long-term EVS project now”.  Imagine my astonishment. But it’s not all. She happened to be the EVS Coordinator! Imagine! The decision wasn’t easy because I’ve never considered Georgia as a hosting country. The second part was that I knew practically nothing about this country. But… after 3 months I’ve already been on the way. Now after almost two months I cannot stand not eating khachapuri or drinking Kindzmarauli for longer periodJ. (I hope after one year I won’t end up as a khachapuri/wine-addicted ex volunteer). People are amazing, the hospitality, willingness to help and kindness as theirs is less and less common in Western part of Europe as well as in Poland unfortunately. They will help you even though you don’t know Georgian and they don’t know English But it’s also a country with well-known crazy transport system. You can wait one minute for a marshrutka or 20. But it’s okay, because Georgians have time for everything. They don’t rush. It’s also common that the drive stops on the road just to talk to his friend. You can stop wherever you want as well. But watch out for cars! – drivers are.. let’s say… a slightly careless. But don’t be afraid if someone hoots his horn at you. He most likely wants to say hello. And hitchhiking is also veeery easy and popular here. If you’re nice you can get puri just for a smile or additional bunch of herbs on a bazari (which by the way are amazing, you can get there anything you need, especially fresh fruit, vegetables, spices and cheese inaccessible in other parts the world, plus it’s a great opportunity to learn Georgian and realise how much you still need to learn). And even though I’ve been here for not a very long time, I feel like home. Maybe it’s because of Georgian friends and other volunteers around or the feeling that I don’t have to hurry, because there is always time for things that must be done anyway. Maybe it’s the nature which is amazing here – mountains are incredible, wild and breathtaking but my condition still leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe because I work as a volunteer and it’s what I wanted. GYE turned out to be a great non-profit organization. There are so many activities for youngster which can participate in language, artistic, IT clubs or weekly events. But what’s the best for me is that this NGO gives teenagers a great possibility to spend free time in creative and developing atmosphere. Georgian youth can come here and meet friends, participate in clubs but also get to know different nationalities, their cultures and traditions and develop language skills. It’s a safe place for them to develop themselves, evolve interests and talents which is very precious and so needful. That’s why I’m proud to do my EVS project exactly in Rustavi. So I guess in my case, coincidences even so small can influenced my life. It’s just because of this, difficult to name, atmosphere of calmness and joy of life I’m happy to be here."

Tamara about her EVS time in Latvia

There is a light somewhere..
Sveiki (Hello), My name is Tamar and I’m from Georgia, the country of legends. I was doing my EVS in the kindergarten of Ligatne Municipality, Latvia. My work was based on supporting teachers with kids and teaching the English language as well. So, I have had to organize different kinds of activities. Though, it was not easy to take dissimilar lessons every day, but children were very favourable about me, I was feeling lots of love from them, support from other teachers and this was increasing my motivation to do everything for them.
When I applied for the project, I had only little information about Ligatne, but now I know that it is a place with an amazing nature and incredibly kind or warm-hearted people. Finding out that Georgia is like another home-country for lots of Latvians, was astonishing for me. Moreover, some of them even know little Georgian and sing our folk songs.
The main reasons why I have decided to join this project and arrive in Latvia, were: to share my experience; getting new knowledge from new people, new working environment; exploring new cultures, not only Latvian, but travelling in another countries as well, comparing every culture/people to each other and finding similarities or differences between them. Besides, I think that everybody should come out from their “shell” even once in their life-time. At first, in order to discover yourself, your inner universe and then the outer world. You aware that it’s a break-through of your “comfort zone”, and sometimes you are scared, but yes:
We all want things to stay the same. Settle for living in misery because we're afraid of change, of things crumbling to ruins… the real trap is getting attached to anything. Ruin is a gift. Ruin is the road to transformation.” – Elizabeth Gilbert; Eat, Pray, Love
And participating in such a great project is the best chance to transform in a better way. I always wanted to live alone for some time, because I think it has lots of advantages. And due to this project I really experienced to live all alone, had “a room of my  own” or a private space, and maybe I was not writing fiction but in that loneliness I became more awared about myself, grew personally and spiritually (“A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction” – Virginia Woolf; A Room of One’s Own). How is my life, I saw more about it there in Latvia, than in Georgia. And step-by-step, I started to create a sketch in my brain; a sketch about what I wanted / did not want and what I really need.. As for other challenges, of course it was the climate and weather, but at last, I got used to it and now I know that I can stand even such coldness as -25 degrees, and the strongest wind which I have ever seen.
I’ve got lots of experiences. Interrelation with local people became more and more interesting, even from the first day of my arrival. As it seemed, most of Latvians are well-awared about our problems connected with Russia, but I was also giving some information to others who had no idea about that and then I was feeling their support to Georgia. Relationships with other volunteers helped me to learn how to be more opened to others, more awared of my own culture. “On-Arrival” and “Mid-Term” trainings were very productive and helpful to understand what skills I should have improved by myself, and inspired me new ideas, new initiatives. I learnt how to work with people of different nationalities and this was an indispensable experience for me. Also, it should be noted that I joined the local choir, was singing Latvian songs and was very lucky I had chance to participate in the greatest Latvian Song and Dance Festival, then was our tour to Poland, and I really got oodles emotions and unforgettable memories due to them.
As for travelling.. To go on trip with others is a good idea, but then you become assured, that if you want to see more, and gain more impressions, you should travel alone. So, I decided to be more adventurous and yeah, I was travelling all alone as in Latvia as out of it, as much as I could. My dreams were coming true like one after another and I still can’t believe in that reality. Everything was like dreams within a dream. Wandering alone was not easy, but I became more self-confident, my lots of fears are already overcame, and I feel stronger than before. I had to interrelate with people of different cultures, backgrounds and it helped me to widen my world-view, break some stereotypes etc. The roads teach you  a lot about yourself, and sometimes you can see the whole world even in the pond made by rain..
I’m really lucky I had a chance to be a part of such a great experience that is called EVS, and to have such an amazing people around me. Yes, I’ve had bad days there as well, but Latvian sky is incredibly amazing..  While it’s dark or night, there is an amazing, strange, colourful light somewhere, in the brink of the sky. It can cure all your sadness, even in the coldest winter or the loneliest days. Thus, it means I really do love Latvia, it became my another home-country. This everything was like an adventure, more in myself, then in the outer world. Living in Latvia was a very light spot on my life and I’m very grateful for it.
Liels paldies par visu, Latvija!

Since 2013 NGO “Sigulda Alternative education” invites volunteers for the EVS to enrich our daily life in the organisations and city. Tamar Tkhelidze was participating in Erasmus+ Youth mobility strategic project “EVS 4 sustainable life” (2017-2-LV02-KA135-0001675) in Ligatne municipality kindergarten. The project aim was to involve youngsters from the countries with a high level of unemployment or social exclusion in mean-full volunteering service for one year. In that way Tamar gained work and life experience, get introduction in Latvian pre-school educational system. Her daily EVS was assisting to teachers in the kindergarten – helping to organise daily activities and teach English for children and teachers. Tamar left us methodical material of teaching English for teachers and other volunteers. We can see now that children in age of 5-6 years can understand foreign language.
By the way.. the idea that foreigner should teach English in the kindergarten comes from Georgia where Ligatne’s director Gunita Liepiņa saw a person in Georgian kindergarten talking with children only in English. J

10 Dec 2018

Matthieu French volunteer: "Actually, I still can remember the first time I arrived in Georgia. Nana (EVS coordinator ) was waiting for me and  it was 4 a.m.  From the airport, we took a taxi to go to Rustavi where I gonna spend whole year. The day after, I met my 2 polish flatmates, they are nice persons and I have to live with them and get used to live with them. It was nice at the beginning when I met my coordinator, my flatmates, Aleks and plenty of youngsters in GYE office. I have done many things, for example participate in meetings, preparing the office for some events, teach French and Italian language, write some articles like I’m doing right now. I have been on-arrival training, where I met a lot of volunteers in kobuleti, where we have shared a lot of good moments. Then I became reporter and I do my best to do video editing as good as possible."

The time passes extremely fast

Mariusz Polish Volunteer : "December has come, which means that my EVS adventure in Rustavi is coming to an end. Since October my life became more organized, as the new clubs started, I had to stick to specific timetable and be more organized. Moreover, the new volunteers have come, which gave new energy and ideas to our work and life. I was responsible for Russian club (as well as private classes with my flatmates, because they had a will to gain some basic Russian knowledge), Polish club, documentary movies’ club (my favorite one) and on-going work in GYE. We prepared few interesting events – Halloween, book exchange, clothes swap, Polish evening. 

Besides the GYE work my life mostly focused on Rustavi and Tbilisi, as the weather wasn’t good enough for me to travel anywhere. Time passed on meetings with friends in Tbilisi, spending time in Rustavi together with flatmates and enjoying the last moments of freedom in Georgia. Also, I participated in midterm meeting in Kobuleti, which was amazing possibility to meet old and new friends as well as reflect a bit about my volunteering experience and think a bit more about future plans. 

The time passes extremely fast, those 9 months were amazing, sometimes demanding, but full of new experiences, new travels, new friends and gave me great view on myself, my thoughts and my future plans. Thank you Georgia, thank you GYE and definitely it’s not the good bye forever!"

[The untitled article about my EVS life]

Oil field in near Baku, Azerbaijan
Aga Polish Volunteer: "I went to Georgia for full year. I choose  my project  via EVS database and was considering 3 different programs in three different countries including Georgia. And I have to admit – I’m happy that was accepted for this project in the fastest. 
Choosing that opportunity to live in Caucasus region was not accidental, Georgia was one of my top destinations so an offer to even live there for that long was a nice perspective.
I already knew that my life would change a bit for that pretty long period of time. And in fact, I wasn’t mistaken… What’s more, I’ve started being surprised in a different ways almost every day.
I remember a day of my arrival like it was a month ago – cold, snowy night – I said to myself ‘oh, damn, NO!’ because leaving Poland I was so happy to live in a place with at least a bit milder climate than it is in Poland, but I failed – in fact, I flown here in January! Ok, a weather was discouraging, but at the airport I was welcomed so warmly , that my perspective has changed very fast. Later it was even better. I didn’t even have time to miss my family and hometown at the beginning, adaptation process has passed very quickly – thanks to my flatmates and people around me. Also Rustavi, specially that older part of the city I found comfortable to live in. 
And that’s a way I would describe my further months here in Georgia. Roughly.

During those passed 11 months I experienced really a lot – together with flatmates I’ve traveled by hitchhiking all around mostly Georgia, even in a wintertime and even 7 people in a regular car (checked – doable!). Almost each holiday weekend  we spent above 1500 m.a.s.l. somewhere in a mountains camping somewhere wildly and cooking high-value dinners on a bonfire. Those hiking trips perfectly kept balance between working time at GYE and discovering Caucasus region. 
Working at organisation ‘Georgian Youth for Europe’ itself  was fun for me also because before I haven’t done any activities for children and youngsters neither teaching my mother tongue – that was challenging for me. But a friendly atmosphere in our office helped me a lot to go through that. Later on, I come up with an idea for my own workshops in which I felt a need to show importance of ecology and environmental protection and eco-friendly lifestyle . While travelling around Georgia I noticed that’s really important to make aware people of that issue because any change starts in a local community, so in us, can start at GYE association as well.
Currently my thoughts are more at home in Poland because I’m leaving soonish. But on the other hand gloomy autumn evenings make me feel nostalgic about this year spent here with people I met here, things I did here and surprises that happened to me here". 

Uplistsikhe - on the old walls

Killing hiking in Racha

Sunny afternoon in Yerevan (in February!)

A trip to Dashbashi waterfall

9 Dec 2018

This experience will change me

Tbilisi Waterfall
Abdou French Volunteer : "Two months already, now that I'm in this European adventure, well OK, we're not really in Europe here Georgia, oh sorry Hello from Georgia. So by or started dear friends I arrived all curious to know what this country will be able to bring me and to teach me, without real knowledge of that language, I even heard that Russian will be useful in the dailies life. Never, never have I ever thought that one day I will be here. I feel like a dream sometimes yes, a dream I adapt so fast sometimes but here I am at home now, so Gamarjoba bicho and gogo. Yesterday, I found myself in a shop doing my shopping, not understanding everything that people say to me and all that are normal.Now and therefore I'm no longer need to hear and understand all, one or two words are enough for me to sort of see what that person wants and then the context helps a lot. It's been two months since I was here, but I feel that this experience will change me, I had the opportunity to do some traveling and I would like to do more. The food here is just amazing Khachapuri, khikali. I wonder how I will be able to live in France without these dishes that we can buy on the street for 2 to 3 lari maximum.

In one aspect, I wonder how I can stay here in Rustavi for a period of 6 months because casually we quickly made the tour of this small town, situated in the south of Tbilisi. To make it short when you visited the park, Méria square, Megobroba qucha and New Rustavi and then to the bazari. Already you did the most of you can do the city. But to be quiet, there is no better, because when you want to do nothing and just rest or work, Rustavi is the best.

At GYE, I run the conversation workshops in English and French. The organization gives me the opportunity to have an IT workshop which is the right moment to discuss about computer programming, entrepreneurship and computer skills. Those topics are directly related to my degree in economics and Management Pathways Mathematics, Computer Science and Statistics Applied to Economics and Management (MISEG). After we remain a mokhalisé (volunteer) that why I'm always ready to help when there are some things to do for others workshops.

Outside of my main mission here, I go once a week to Saponela which is a home for young people where I prepare things to do based on object of recovery or decorations for Christmas with string, chisel, and paper". 

Making a butterfly in Sapovnela Day Center


Acharuli Khachapuri

Rustavi Park

Working kids from Gardabani

Udabno festival

8 Dec 2018

Georgia choose me.

Georgia choose me.

„How you choose Georgia?” This is the most common question I hear. I thought about this. When I was looking EVS project I didn't look to go to specific country. I was looking for a project which I will be interesting. I found few and sent my application. I didn't want to rush and I had a time. I got different answers and always was something wrong: time, details about project, tasks, place where I will be live.

Than one day I found old project in GYE. I red all information and sent my application. Unexpected quickly I got e-mail back. After few messages we set the date. Ours Skype interview was great and I was starting my EVS in October.  

I was very early flight. I was in Rustawi at 5 am. I was sat in my bed, take deep breath and said to myself: „I am in Georgia and I will be live here for a year”. For next few days I couldn't find my place. I felt a little confuse. I just walk around and try to know my new neighborhood better.

Now, I fell here more like at home. My two months here has gone by so quickly. I meet a lot of people not only from Georgia, but from all over the world. I lead two clubs. I have meetings with young people. We practice English. I am really happy when I see how they involve. I am very proud when they start speak better, and they are using word which I told them. Also, I learn a lot from them, about Georgia and how life look likes here.
I share my time with another volunteers, we cook and eat together, celebrate birthdays, travel and learn Georgian. I try Khachapuri, Lobio and I fall in love in Khinkali.

I spent few days in Kobuleti on my arrival treeing, I was in Kazbegi, Uplistsikhe, Borjomi and in Tbilisi a lot of times, I can even count all ready. I am happy that I have 10 months more to explore Georgia"- Marta from Poland

6 Dec 2018

EVS Story from Romania

Recently Georgian youngster Mariam Nairashvili doing her EVS in Romania. She would like to share her Life changing experience with you.

“Firstly, Erasmus + volunteering service is the opportunity of development and self-enhancement. The reason, why I decided to enroll in EVS and start volunteering journey three months ago, is that I knew something different and original was expecting. Expectations were high and all of them came true. Craiova, Romania, my current “EVS home” became the place of diversity and brand new challenges. My SO (Sending Organization) is Georgian Youths for Europe and I’m doing my EVS in Anter. My volunteering contains being a friendly teacher of healthy lifestyle. Thus, it’s a healthy lifestyle promotion at high school from 9th to 11th grade students. The project’s name is “Be fit” and we are doing encouragements of being healthy and benefits by conducting vast kind of events, conferences and competitions through Odobleja High school students in Craiova, Dolj, Romania. Duties and responsibilities are simple- you have to do your best, at least try to make something valuable for community. Additionally, we have a Romanian classes provided that helped me for an adaptation in society, even more. We are stimulating our project by online E-magazine and promotion videos that make project popular, also write articles about urgent topics that are nowadays problems.
Secondly, the point of being volunteer is precious. People are getting involved for better future. I start learning how to express myself with other nationalities and represent my cultural background at the same time. It’s also very important to mention that I’m living with other nine people in the same house and we are all gathered like a family. EVS is a family. It gives you an opportunity to get to know other people’s cultures, explore old or new traditions, plus tricks. People care about each other here and we all know our personal values and respect them. It is one big tolerant and diverse environment which is open for every motivated individual. You can learn individualism here. Although, during the free time, I had an excellent opportunity of traveling around. Romania has a pretty much convenient location in Europe so that’s why I visited Hungary and Italy. Consequently, you can also travel around and use free time for chasing random places.
Overall, EVS was incredibly amazing and priceless opportunity that should be tried by each of us. Unfortunately, I’m already at the end of the project and it’s so painful to leave the place that gave me a lot of friends, memories and wonderful experience.

Halloween 2018

The end of October traditionally is the time of the year when everybody is crazy about Halloween. The same was in GYE.  Volunteers decided to organize small party for youngsters dedicated to this holiday. But before it happened, it was necessary to turn GYE office more into Halloween mood by making some decorations. Volunteers prepared some garlands with pumpkins, spiders’ nets and toilet paper with artificial blood. We also decorated the doors to the office and prepared some food – small bruschetta, crackers’ sandwiches, pumpkin cake and drinks: sangria, mojito and some soda. We prepared some games to make that night more active – chasing the balloons, guessing items, eating apples. Later youngsters organized some dance activities for themselves everyone had fun and event was a great success!

First of all, I really like the idea to organize a Halloween party in G.Y.E where volunteers and youngsters were together to prepare and celebrate this event (video). Youngsters had a lot of funny costumes during this night, some games were organized. It was a great moment so thank you to Nana for this event in G.Y.E. - Matthieu

“We start prepare Halloween two weeks before. We have meeting and talk about what we want to do. It was obvious that we want have a lot of decorations and good food. For first, we prepare some spider’s web on the wall, small pumpkins and light. Two days before our preparations was more intensive. We did garlands with spider webs, pumpkins, and we decorated doors. In Halloween day we made food. We went on market and start preparation in early afternoon. For party, we prepare a lot small sandwiches. Fruits, drinks and of course pumpkin pie.” - Marta

31st of October – everyone knows this date. Of course it’s Halloween. Almost all over the world people are cutting out pumpkins, dressing up funny or scary costumes and children are walking around the neighbourhood with famous trick or treat. GYE also was celebrating this day. Couple days before, we decorated the office with topical arts and crafts. The Halloween party had place, of course, on Wednesday evening. Wearing amazing costumes, we lighted up the curved pumpkins and began the party. - Karola

EVS life activities: On-arrival and mid term training

Karola Polish long Term EVS about on arrival training "On-Arrival Training was to provide the new EVS volunteers on our right and responsibilities. The aim was also to give a chance to reflect the idea of the project and introduce the hosting country. The Training took place in Kobuleti, small town by the sea. Firstly, we had an introduction session, so we could get to know each other. In the evening, Shota, one of the organizers threw up a welcoming party. For the next 3 days we were learning about cultural and social similarities and difference, non-violent communication, solving problems, challenges that will occur during our stay and ways to achieve our goals. The participants had many questions regarding Caucasian lifestyle, culture, right and duties or every-day life with flatmates and the trainers gave us valuable information or suggestions. Nurana (Azerbaijan) and Hranush (Armenia) were very experienced in this field as they also did their EVS in the past. At the end of the On-Arrival Training we were invited to supra – traditional Georgian feast. We got familiar with custom of toasts and the role of tamada – a Georgian toastmaster. During this supra we’re dancing and tasting delicious Georgian dishes and wine.”

Matthieu French long Term EVS:  “What a nice experience in a nice place! During these four days, we had a lot of activities. At the end of these activities we made a moral which is the reminded for all volunteers to trust to each other, be cooperative....etc. We also had a conversation about what we had to know about Armenia and Georgia. We had a lot of party during the training. One day we played a city game in Batumi to know better the important place of this city. We also had a supra which was awesome with good food and good drinks"

Abdou  French long Term EVS: Kobuleti was truly a great experience, I had the opportunity to meet great people and it's rewarding to hear other people who are in the same boat (evs) about their experiences and problems in their hosting organizations. This allowed me to pause and think about my role and experience here in Georgia as a volunteer. It's like a breath of fresh air to get away from it all and to have the best of human adventures. Bravo and thanks to all the people who made this possible, now I have a clearer look at what I want to do with this experience and I have developed new goals for my evs: developed a real solid project using my IT club that I’ve just thought of as a moment of discussion and we learn something but I see that we can really build something that will remain forever." 

Marta Polish long term EVS: "Each new long term EVS volunteer from GYE have arrival training. This time it was in Kobuleti for 5 days. We had workshops for all day from 10 to 7 p.m. We learn more about culture in Caucasus, about EVS and how is to be a volunteer, how to resolve problem etc.  I met other volunteer and theirs project. I am very impress theirs project and ideas. I am very thankful for each experience which they share. For me the most important was to understand that my EVS could be very productive time and It will be great time to develop myself.”

Mariusz Polish Long term EVS “At the beginning of November together with Aga we had great opportunity to participate in our midterm meeting. It was organized in Kobuleti, in the hotel at the seaside. Our conference room had amazing view on sea, so our sessions were extremely pleasant. The meeting was a great opportunity to meet other volunteers working right now in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan. With some of them we had on arrival training, some of them were completely new for us. We spent together 4 days on exchanging our experiences, solving problems, talking about our future, as well as spending time together, playing games, having fun, enjoying weather and atmosphere. We also visited Batumi – part of the group went to the city, part (including me) visited botanical garden, where we could see huge amount of plants from all over the world and enjoy beautiful views on the city, coastline and sea. In the last evening we went to restaurant for traditional supra with huge amount of food and wine. That time was amazing and gave new power for the rest of our stay here.”


check it out video which made our EVS volunteer during On-arrival Training