Hello! My name is Narriman Janssen and I work as a youth worker at the youth center Centralen in Lomma Municipality, Sweden. This summer I got the opportunity to go on a study visit to Chokhatauri* in Georgia to learn more about international youth work, new working methods, obtain new perspectives on youth work. The study visit included another participant from Cinisello Balsamo, Italy.
My aims was to find new working methods and ways to work that lead to concrete improvements in our own organisation. Skills development in my profession as a youth worker and more internationalization in youth work, in order to offer young people international opportunities to a greater extent than it is currently being done.
At our youth center in Lomma Municipality in Sweden we currently have an EVS volunteer within this project from Georgia. We are beginners at international youth work and when I got this opportunity to go for this study visit I took it!
What I gained from this project is for example knowledge about youth exchanges such as: planning, project ideas and sharing experiences that are important for a good youth exchange. I got contacts for future youth exchanges. I have gained a greater understanding of the volunteer’s importance in the organisation and how the tasks for the volunteer’s work can primarily renew and develop the organisation. One experience that was also shared during the study visit that can lead to a new way of working, is that getting young people to take a bigger part of the public space through eg street theater workshops and flash mobs. I also understood how the social and personal development of the young people through non-formal and informal learning methods are important for future life.
On the first day we went by car on narrow roads up the mountain that would lead us to Bakhmaro. It is a mountainous resort located at 2,000m altitude. Chokhatauri municipality organizes an annual festival where young people participate in arranging and participating in the festival. It is a significant event for the municipality. The surrounding mountains are a source of Bakhmaro bottled spring water, and on the way up to the resort we made an outdoor visit at the factory. The representative of the municipality who guided us on this tour emphasized the importance of local businesses for the young people in the city and for the development of the municipality. After a tour at the town hall, we got to meet the mayor who told us about the municipality’s development. Our host for the study visit who is an English teacher presented us for young people in the town. She emphasized the importance of youth work locally and nationally.
For future development of the youth of Chokhatauri and the town itself, international youth work is needed. While showing us the town by foot, we visited the old cinema in the town center which is intended to be a future project funded by the EU for youth by youth turning it to an activity house.
We also visited a non-governmental organization established by a German organization DVV German Adult Education Association headquartered in Tbilisi. They were providing non-formal education all over Georgia.The local government owns the property and supports the DVV. In it’s center for adults development courses as e.g wool making, economy and sewing. Here children can also be taught in English, which is currently run by a volunteer. In the town are various projects with local youth. Workshops in various topics such as drugs prevention, gender issues and also sport activities could be found here. Before I went home, I had the opportunity to eat the fantastic Georgian dish Khachapuri an” Georgian pizza” together with traditional singing and dancing. A youth sang for us and played on the Georgian instrument called fanduri. The traditional song and dance is deeply rooted in the Georgian culture which leads the children to learn these aesthetic expressions from an early age and it becomes natural elements in their social contexts. The hospitality I meet in Georgia is huge and I really felt welcome.
Last day I made a study visit to “DRONI” in Tbilisi where I met staff and volunteers. Youth Association DRONI is a non-governmental organization that has been active in international youth work over 15 years. The organisation aims are to support the young people’s physical, spiritual and educational development. The meeting with the volunteers made a profound impression on me. With enthusiasm and joy they shared their experiences that they had accumulated in their work as volunteers. The reward of working with international youth work is to hear these experiences from young people who participates in this work with such satisfaction.
With these fantastic days in Georgia I have gained an even deeper understanding of the importance of international youth work and now this work will continue at our Youth center Centralen in Lomma Sweden.
The study visit was made within the InterCityYouth Erasmus+ project “YOUTH WIN! Youth workers improving youth work now” 2018-2019.
*Chokhatauri is a city in Georgia. It is located in the Guria region, in the western part of the country, 220 km west of the capital Tbilisi. The population is 2,200.
With kind regards Narriman Janssen