26 Mar 2019

If you are a volunteer in GYE - time moves rapidly

How fast is the time? If you are a volunteer in GYE - time moves rapidly, like a rocket, picks up speed, cuts through the stars and takes you up, leaving behind all doubts.

A month has passed since I arrived in Rustavi, but it seems that everything happened in an instant! One moment, one thought, one right decision (big thanks to Linda and Laura!), brought so many changes in my daily life.

This is my second visit to Georgia, therefore, I can’t say that I felt culture shock or for a long time got used to local traditions, behavioral features, Georgian_Maybe_Time or food. Here I feel like at homeland, comfortable, safe. It seems my acclimatization is coming to an end, because now Tbilisi guides rarely offer to me excursions by boat and wine tasting. (maybe I become look like a local? 🙂 

Last summer I traveled around Georgia with hitchhiking and a minibus, made trips in the company of other volunteers, often spent the night in a tent, meeting sunrises and sunsets in the territories of natural parks, was surprised by the unusual (for Latvia) wild animals, trees, air temperature. I have a lot of wonderful memories of trips, and of those people with whom I spent that summer. 

This year I have not moved further than Bakuriani, which means that everything is ahead! Only one minus that I noticed at this time of the year (and which is “hidden” by tall grass and foliage in the summer) is the amount of garbage in Georgia... Plastic is everywhere, this is a real problem, and the disease of the whole Earth, this one makes a sad impression. “Parki ar minda” - unfortunately, becomes the motto of many European volunteers here...

Now I live according to the schedule of GYE and for the first time in my life I teach yoga for beginners, which I really (really!!) like and it makes me happy.

I develop my skills by attending yoga classes in Tbilisi. I am also leading English for beginners and Russian conversation club, taking pictures and sometimes visiting the Sapovnela children center. Working with kids is something completely indescribable, because all of them are very different, active or passive and it’s impossible to predict how the lesson will pass! 🙂

Has my English improved in the month of my stay and work in Georgia? A little bit. 🙂 I understand more, I speak more often, and I have almost no fear if I don’t know any words. I am lucky that the people around are very attentive and patient, they always try to explain phrases differently, more simpler for me. I learned one important truth - no one here is a native speaker of English, we all learn and everyone has mistakes. (Thank you, for supporting dream-team: Dante, Patrik and Delhia!). Language is not an ideal tool, a non-verbal method is more better. Body position, glance tells me more about a person, so I recognize people through observation too.

Separately, I would like to note the training in Bakuriani: it was beautiful! It was the training that helped me to overcome the language barrier, gained greater confidence in your EVS, learn more about motivation, how to solve problem situations, and get to know very different and wonderful people. And of course ... stunning trainers Ana, Nurana, and volunteers around, which is always very important, especially if you are locked in the same territory for 5 days.
Listen to your heart, reader,
Namaste (traditional Hindu greeting / farewell; means "I bow to the divine in you"),
and see you soon,


Strategic EVS project “Corners of Europe” is financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union that in Latvia is administrated by Agency for International Programs for Youth.

25 Mar 2019

Abdou's 6 month EVS in GYE

Oh Georgia, the first thing to say about this country is the food is good, Supra is the best things ever and if you don’t drink alcohol don't come to Georgia ... just kidding. When ADICE offered me this mission, I did not even know where Georgia is, so I goggled the country and obliviously the first result was the US state.
I did as much research as I can, I did not find a lot of things on the net. So to get out of my comfort zone, I was off on an extraordinary adventure. I remember in the car for the airport my father asked me if someone going actually come to pick me up once I got here, Doubt settles, because I was not very sure that Nana would be there. Arrived at Roissy (French airport), I write a mail to make sure she's going to pick me up on the airport. She says she's going to be there. Then stopover in Turkey, first time in Turkey and I exchanged my first Lari (Georgian money) super emotion to be and do new things.  When I arrived in Georgia, I had 5 minutes of doubt before I saw Nana and other people who had an important role in my EVS adventures. It was my welcome to Georgia.
So my first impression when I saw the apartment where I was going to spend the next 6 months of my life, I thought that would will be super long this EVS. At the same time, I have never felt an impatience like this in my all my life, I hardly slept the first night, because I wanted to be so much tomorrow to start the adventure in an official way. This country who was a part of the Russian empire that has a strong character as well. The mountainous landscapes, these monasteries and churches, so much history in this rather small country. Two weeks ago, for example, I went to make my first official hitchhiking experience alone. The first one, it was last December when we went to Armenia with two colleges, but that's another story.

Two weeks ago, trip to Uplistsikhe small village not very far from Gori. In hitchhiking, I was sure that the village was well before Gori ,so imagined my reaction when my map and the car where I was go through Gori by the way there is the Stalin museum because yes Stalin was born in Gori (fun fact) .I have kept my calm of course because my experience in Georgia taught me to keep my calm in any situation. I had even the moment when I thought that this little town is really cool with a little Cuban vibe (it was Gori) .I stayed maybe 2 – 3 hours in the cave town of Uplistsikhe really a lot of wind and a little cold. All these whitish stone grottoes, we will say more than I thought, disappointed for that because I was looking for a quiet visit with my pod-casts in my ears. I don't really want to discourage anyone from visiting because it really is an experience to live. Among others, I was able to visit: Mont Kazbegi, kobuleti, batumi, Gori, Borjomi, Gudauri.  All these cities offers me a unique experiences. I really have this philosophy with this trip are a bonus, and I'm very happy of each trip, because they are part of me now.
Now, I'm going to go faster in time, because clearly all things were so new for the days and weeks that followed my arrival than today, it's normal, but I was like a child coming into a toys store. I don't really like what I'm going to do, but I have to do it, I have not found any other way to do it. I'm going to make a list of all the things I have done. I could do here:
-First clubs: French conversation, English conversation, IT club, movie club, game time, Philosophy conversation.  These are the major clubs that I have been able to manage here.

-Now other stuff: I manage organization YouTube channel and Instagram page, writing articles for the bulldozer, I had a day volunteer in dog shelter, I helped my organization to find partners  for the future mobility project  and help also to develop  Mobile application, Manage team building game, make a lot of posters for events, create game for events, make a  presentation public, etc... That is just some things that I manage to make in this 6-month mission. I learn a lot. The most important, for me, is the people a have the opportunity to meet. One of the biggest lessons I learn here is the best way to learn is just to listen people when they talk and ask questions.

When I arrive here, I had so much stereotype about the people who do this type of volunteer service and who use hitchhiking for transportation. Maybe with the college and  experience I had, I can't believe that someone can take you in this car without making you pay something’s, in France we have blablacar but that a company you need to pay them for it. That why I think that They are hippie for sure but now my way of seeing the world and people change a lot EVS is definitely a life changing experience.

Today, I still have 1 week before departure or back depending on the point of view, in France. Have been a few weeks that I am between I want to return because it must and I want to stay even if it is not the right thing to do ,in addition it is not possible. The thing I am sure is that this experience is the best decision I made even if I decided to do the mission 1 hours after I have received the mission offer.

By the way I want to say a big thank you to all people who make this wonderful experience possible .Thanks to Nana for every things she teaches me about work, computer stuff, happiness and a lot of more STUFF, thanks to Aleks for this opportunity, my mentor Mari wonderful girl. We often had conversations a little curious but still very interesting, thanks to  Mokhalises,  we have an amazing team and our teamwork help me a lot to grow as a person and as a man and I want say thank you very much to every single person who came to GYE. As Oprah Winfrey us to say “Surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher” that what people did here, I fill very bless to have the chance to be a part of your life.

21 Mar 2019

On arrival Training 2019

So this month, which is the 2nd and a half month of me being here, I had the On Arrival Training (OAT).
It was held in Bakuriani, which, I would say, was the perfect place to have the oat in, because it is high up in the snowy, beautiful mountains, which pretty much sums up the environment of Georgia and Caucasus in general.

We were a small group of 12 volunteers from Italia, Latvia, France, Germany and Czech Republic. The trainers were from Azerbaijan and Armenia and the logistics guru- Shota (amazing guy) from Georgia. So a pretty colorful group with people from different places and cultures, which means a lot of opportunities to learn.

The schedule was all right- we start at 9:30 in the morning, end at 18:30 in the evening, with lunch, coffee and dinner breaks in between.

It's hard to remember how everything went step by step, because the whole experience was overwhelmingly positive and I can, honestly, say that I learned quite a lot. For example things about conflict solving, as well as giving/receiving feedback and non violent communicating etc.

The two topics/activities I learned the most from were:

1. Discussion about Caucasus culture.
I took a lot of notes in my head about the overall mentality and view of life of Caucasus people. And despite me being from north-western Europe, where the sense of time, sense of collectiveness and all these other kinds of values and traditions are radically different than in Caucasus, I actually see how knowing and accepting them can benefit me to improve my own mental health, life overall and the life of ones around me. 

The most simple example, off the top of my head, that I can give is that Georgian people don't really worry about the future(or time in general), because it is unknown, anything can happen suddenly, unexpectedly and it's pointless to worry about it. Which makes me also feel less anxious about the future. I don't know if this makes sense, but it does for me, sorry, haha.
Even more this applied during the traditional Supra(Georgian dinner, lots of food and wine), when the Tamada (the main talker at the table) was saying all these different toasts, which made me feel more appreciative of the things, people and circumstances of my life.

2. Workshop about motivation.
This was actually the last workshop of the training, it was held in the last day and has stuck the most to my memory. As a person who actually sometimes struggles with finding and maintaining motivation for taking actions or working towards my goals, I found out a lot of great tips and tricks for keeping my focus and motivation up.
The rest of details are kind of personal.

In conclusion.
There's probably tons of things I haven't mentioned about the OAT, because the information might still be processing in my head, and I'm sure it is, but. I learned a lot. It was a great balance of relaxing/learning in a non-formal environment. 
And, nevertheless it sparked a feeling of bright future ahead.

Progress daily,

Martins 'chuks' Piebalgs

Strategic EVS project “Corners of Europe” is financed by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union that in Latvia is administrated by Agency for International Programs for Youth.