Carmen (ESP) in Georgia
This is the story of why Carmen went to Georgia … and what is brought back!
My name is Carmen Bendito Olmos, I´m 18 years old and I live in Melilla, a small Spanish city in the north of Africa. When I finished my last year of high school, I decided that I wanted to do something special before going to college.
I found the European volunteering thanks to my one of my teachers. I talked with Europe Direct and Eurodesk Melilla and they showed me several webs where I could find what I was looking for.
I sent a lot of emails to different volunteering projects that I liked, but I didn’t get any answer. At the same time, a friend was going to Georgia for a Youth in Action training course. And one day, this friend told me that one of the Spanish participant couldn’t go, so I send my application form.
The travel was an adventure since I flew away from Melilla: I got to Madrid three days before my fly to Istanbul. Three days of ultimate shopping and preparation. I was told that in Bakuriani, the village where I was going to stay, was a mountain village with very low temperatures. So I made my suitcase with lots of “in case of”. I didn’t use any of them.
And finally I was flying to Istanbul. The flight lasted four hours an a half, but for me seems just forever. Once in Turkey, I had to wait four hours more.
After this long waiting, I flew above the Black Sea and I landed in Tbilisi. There, I had to wait eight hours with my travel partner, Nieves, to the other Spanish participant, Marta. Once we were all together, two friendly Georgians drove us to the National Agency which organized everything.
We visit the beautiful Tbilisi with our course partner new and Georgian friend, Irakli. We tried the strange Georgian food and saw that there is a big social contrast in all the buildings and all the people.
Finally the other participants from all the other countries arrived; Hungary, Belarus, Czech Republic and Ukraine, plus the three Spanish girl and the Georgian participants.
We started a curious travel by bus: the driver seemed unaware of the traffic laws −or maybe his foot got stock on the accelerator and his phone got stocked on his ear as well −. But, without looking at that crazy way of driving, and looking thought the window, Georgia was really beautiful.
Once we were in the hotel “Victoria” in Bakuriani we got our rooms and they made us a welcome party. I shared room with a Georgian girl, Ruska, and a Ukrainian one, Anastasia.
On Monday we started working; we got a presentation and we played several games to know each other better. They explained us what was the training course about and showed us the agenda. The two girls who organized everything, Barka and Cipi, were so kind and lovely. The course was about ReCreativity and it was called Cycle Up!
During that week, we learnt a lot of games, dynamics, ways of being more creative and ideas of how make useful objects from rubbish, from a wallet to a notebook.
Every night we got together and talk about our countries and taught and learnt new words to each other.
From the very beginning I felt like I was at home; those people transmitted peace and security. I learnt a lot from everybody and also I lived some anecdotal experiences. Just one advice: do not do hitch-hiking in Georgia.
It’s amazing how much alike we are despite being of different nationalities. When you attend an activity of this style and work with people from different countries, you find that, actually, there is little difference between us; words are not necessary to communicate if you really want it and anybody is more important than other and that there is place for everyone.
Georgia is a poor, polluted country. But when you walk through the streets of the capital you can see how friendly people are. In general, they are very hospitable and open.
We spent a great week learning and sharing, knowing and living different experiences. And as a final result, the organizers had prepared us a little surprise: we were going to teach to the Bakuriani school everything that we had learned during the course.
It was Friday and after spending a whole day getting ready workshops and presentations, we went to school. There children of various ages were waiting excited. Once we were all in the classroom, we presented ourselves by country while some of our Georgian colleagues translated.
That morning was amazing. I never had seen so many smiles together. The kids sang songs in Georgian while they were doing the workshops. When we finished, all the kids asked us to write on the notebooks that they made and hugged us. It was an amazing experience.
The training course ended in a really beautiful restaurant from Tbilisi, where we tried lots of Georgian food. We toasted, there were some exhibitions of Georgian typical dances and, finally, the three Spanish girls went to the airport on the way back to Istanbul.
After crying and exchanges of Facebook users, we got on the bus and then to the plane. The adventure ended with several kilos less in the stomach, a few more in the bag, and a complete emptiness inside.
It was an enriching experience that made me: open my mind, learn about other cultures, meet really amazing people and acquire new knowledge about creativity and recycling.
If I could, I would repeat it and I recommend to everyone to do this kind of activities. I consider that everybody should live an experience like this at least once. Never is sufficient when we talk about travelling, knowledge and meeting!
Carmen Bendito Olmos