In the summer 2018, we had the possibility to participate in the European Voluntary Service in Georgia. We were working on three projects in three different cities, which were focused on informal education, intercultural understanding and inclusion of marginalized groups into the society. Key topics of our activities were cooperation, tolerance, empathy, and non-aggressive communication. The whole project was facilitated by the NGO Droni and Be International. We were working mostly at Droni’s office in Tbilisi. They helped us a lot, during all parts of projects (research, creation of design of the activities, implementation of our plans), as they knew the context of the country, had many useful contacts and translated the needed material for us. Thanks to them, it was much easier to get closer to the Georgian society and realize the project.
Our group was working mainly on a project in Pankisi Gorge area. Pankisi is an isolated valley region in northern Georgia, encompassing nine villages. After the Chechen crisis in the ‘90s many refugees fled over the mountains into Pankisi. Therefore, there is now a Chechen Muslim minority called the Kists. Small number of people were said to leave Pankisi to join ISIS, which is the reason why the valley gained a bad reputation for violent extremism. However, most villagers dissociate themselves from radical beliefs and try to attract investors for the valley. Our hearts were definitely attracted by this beautiful piece of land and by these beautiful people.
The project had several aims. We wanted to boost cultural life in the area, provide a bit of entertainment to children during summer time, provide opportunity to develop soft skills and also contribute to better reputation of Pankisi. We cooperated with one of the local schools and organized the so-called “unusual summer’s day in Pankisi”. It was for children from 6-15, but everyone was welcomed. At the beginning, we played a role-play game, where children had the opportunity to try to think, how would it feel to be a different person. Then, we prepared several stations, where the children could do some tasks and try new activities. We were very lucky to meet many interesting people in Pankisi, who helped us a lot with the organization such as Nazy’s guest house or the director of the local school. Thank you, once again!
”I decided to participate in this EVS project from two reasons, first of them is because I am very interested in human rights topics and second that this project corresponded with my current university MA study program (Educational Science). The project helped me a lot. I very appreciate fact that I had the chance to get know a new culture, improve my organizational, planning, team working and rhetoric skills. Very enriching for me were also meetings with local representatives and authorities.
As also in other EVS projects, the great part of my/our EVS was informal networking. I met awesome people and in general, this EVS was the very valuable life lesson for me. If I should describe this EVS from my point of view in 3 words - then those words are - inspiration, harmony, growth. I would like to mention also that we had wonderful and professional support during the project and I wish to all future EVS´ participants to experience at least the same great EVS as I experienced.” (JONÁŠ)
”I am very grateful for the possibility to take part in in the EVS in Georgia. I got the chance to try to work in a completely new and unusual environment with very inspiring people around me. I really appreciate, that I could experience Georgia a bit differently. We had the support from the local NGO Droni, which helped us a lot to get closer to the society and its problems. Moreover, we could try to address those problems in our projects. I think, I learned a lot during this six weeks, especially in terms of communication and cooperation with other people. We had the opportunity to get in touch with people from very different backgrounds and world views, which was very enriching and eye-opening. Last but not least, we had also a lot of fun together. We organized few trips for ourselves, which I enjoyed very much. Georgia is an incredibly beautiful and diverse country and I am very thankful for the chance to explore it!” (VERONIKA)
"EVS means for me a window of opportunity to develop my personal skills. I improved my leading skills and also I became more independent.
Due to the fact that we had a chance to take part in all three events we could get to know Georgia and Georgian in different perspective. I can't say that I felt strong support from Droni except some Droni volunteers on the other hand it was good for me cause I found some new abilities in me.
I am incredibly grateful for that experience. Experience to be flexible, experience to lead people (some how) and I am strongly grateful for sharing the new view of the world (peace, love, faith, courage and wisdom) through children's eyes." (KATERINA)
"Thank you to the European Volunteer service , where I have the opportunity to have a look at the depths of the Caucasus. Where I knew before I travel that the country is a variety of cultures and people. Some articles read that it was a different point. But when I got there I saw a point of love. I saw Georgia have people mixed From the South and the North Caucasus and from Anatolia and others meets the love of beauty of nature, water and fruit and the many types of wine and municipal cheese of Sakartvelo. “ (ABDUL)
The project was supported by European Commission Programme Erasmus+.