After Robert and me arrived at Tbilisi Airport in the afternoon on the 4th of January, we went to the International Scout Centre Rustavi (ISCR). First thing that impressed us positively were the number of solar panels that have been planted right in front of the airport’s entrance. Secondly, a bit more disappointing was that the traffic was quite a bit more interactive from what we were used to, as in a less clear division of driving lanes causing us the shivers. After we were assigned to our room, we went to the main building where the Contact Making Session was kicked off with information about Georgian Youth for Europe (GYE) and the ISCR, name games and getting to know each other.
The International Scout Centre Rustavi (ISCR)
Friday it was presentation day! Presenting Relearn and Suderbyn was fun and it was challenging to put it all on one paper. But even more challenging, the candidates had to present themselves and their municipalities in a pitch. Within the Kvemo Kartli province, there are 7 municipalities that the candidates represent. Next to Rustavi, there is Bolnisi, Marneuli, Gardabani, Dmanisi, Tsalka and Tetri Tskaro. Such diversity! Similarly, in the organizations. For example there was the Latvian organization Radi Vidi Pats that takes initiatives to make bicycling more attractive by making so called FreakBikes. The other organizations Bison, from Latvia, Sende from Spain, Grüner Grasshalm and Trial&Error from Germany all had an interesting story and a clear connection to sustainability aswell.
Friday night, there was the Tasty Quiz! In this quiz, a couple consisting of a Georgian and a foreigner could taste typical food and guess what and wherefrom the food was. The evaluation showed us the difference and similarities in food culture. For example, the interesting discussion whether Apple juice is typical German or that it could be considered typical Georgian too. To our delight, the Swedish foodstuff was popular too. The Finnerödja Tranbär juice, Salto Råg Knäckebröd, home-made äppelmos and hazelnut-cacao paste were all received very well.
Lars and Robert presenting Relearn & Suderbyn
Saturday, we started off with the matchmaking interviews. The first interview was with Baiko and Pati. Although we had some other pleasant matchmaking interviews afterwards, we were happy that Baiko and Pati chose NGO Relearn & Suderbyn! During the evening out in Tbilisi we enjoyed a Christmas dinner in a restaurant with a singing and dancing show included. After dinner, we went up to the top of a hill and had a stunning view of Tbilisi by night.
To celebrate the matchmaking, the following morning, we went to the municipality of Tetri Tskaro and were treated with a tour in and around the area. We went to see some projects that Baiko and Pati had been working on, such as painting their bus stops and planting trees. Furthermore, we went to the history museum of Tetri Tskaro, took a jumping picture by the Algeti reservoir nearby the Trialeti National Park and had a delicious lunch at Baiko’s home, with home grown veggies and Jon Jolie! When we got back to the ISCR, we got some more information about the Erasmus+ program and non-formal education. Also, we were introduced to challenges and basics in conflict resolution. The day was closed with a nice game called Sustainability Passion in Action. Guessing what passion goes with who, was a fun way to test just how good we know the other teams.
Flying by the Algeti reservoir
The next day was all about sharing ideas on the exchange and planning the coming weeks before the exchange would take place. In the evening, interesting videos and clips were shared, such as clips by young Ukrainians taking sustainable action by the initiative Active YouKraine!
The last day was about sharing best practices and tools for easy communication and online sharing. After the final closing circle, it was time for the farewell! To conclude, I would say that it was a rather intense 6-day visit. It was just enough time to get an impression of Georgian culture, see some of Tbilisi, Rustavi and the Tetri Tskaro region. And of course, make plans for the three weeks exchange to Suderbyn in the first three weeks of March, which we are looking forward to a lot!
To be continued...
By Lars van Dorsselaer
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