Discover the Caucasus – Volunteering across cultures

Duration: 01.09.2014 – 01.09.2015 (12 months)
Venue: Mingachevir (Azerbaijan) and Rustavi (Georgia)
Funded by: Youth in Action Programme Action 2, German National Agency
Hosting organisations:
1. Educational Centre for Youth, Mingachevir Regional Branch (2 placements)
2- SIQA – Georgian Association for Educational Initiatives (2 placements)

This European Voluntary Service involves four volunteers from Germany for a duration of 12-months in two different hosting placements in the South Caucasus: Educational Centre for Youth in Mingachevir, Azerbaijan (2 volunteers) and SIQA – Georgian Association of Educational Initiatives, Rustavi, Georgia (2 volunteers). The volunteers are sent by the European Intercultural Forum e. V., Berlin, Germany.

The volunteers will integrate the team of the hosting organisations and organise non-formal educational activities for local young people aged 12 to 25 years old. The project fosters the empowerment of children and youth with fewer opportunities residing in Mingachevir and Rustavi and their surroundings.

The service is centred on the volunteers and their interests: the themes of the non-formal educational activities carried by the volunteers will be adapted according to their talents and personal interests; this insures a good matching between the volunteers and their learning service. Due to the type of activities foreseen in the project, the volunteers from Germany will have the chance to meet and cooperate with young people of diverse age and background: local children and youth with fewer opportunities, local youth leaders, but as well other international volunteers present on the field such as PeaceCorps volunteers from the US. The project fosters mutual understanding among youth from different cultures and social backgrounds. The project allows young Europeans to reflect on European themes such as the borders of Europe, European values, Human Rights and to discover the youth reality at the borders of the European Union.

All along the service, the volunteers will receive specific support from the sending and the hosting organisations insuring time and space for personal reflection on learning outcomes and self-assessment of own development. This volunteering project is a chance for young adults from Germany and from the hosting countries to develop and grow.

The service takes place from September 2014 to September 2015, in total 12 months.

Tasks of the volunteers:

– organising non-formal youth activities with and for children and youth with fewer opportunities for example sports activities, ecological activities, arts and craft activities, dancing activities, media workshops, photography exhibition on youth-related themes, youth summer/ winter camps, etc. (50%)
– organising activities around European cultures and German culture(s) such as intercultural workshops, discussion rounds, foreign language communication clubs, etc. (20%)
– promoting European citizenship and volunteering among local youth by presenting own experience as a volunteer in different occasions (NGOs events, youth fairs, schools and universities, institutions targeted at youth, etc.) and motivating local youth to get engaged (10%)
– supporting the office work e.g. fundraising, reporting, website maintenance, newsletter development, networking with local or international partners, etc. (10%)
– learning the local language (Georgian or Azerbaijani) and getting integrated in the local community by participating in local social and cultural activities with other young people (10%)

News from the project

27.08.2014: arrival of the two volunteers Lucie and Hanna in Georgia

03.09.2014: arrival of the two volunteers Lilly and Marian in Azerbaijan

20-24.09.2014: participation of Lucie and Hanna in the On-Arrival Training in Kobuleti, Georgia, organised by SALTO-EECA

03.10.2014: visit of the coordinator from EIF to the volunteers in Mingachevir, Azerbaijan

October 2014: Lilly explains about her first discovering’s and impressions in Mingachevir, read her article here! 

November 2014: Marian wrote an article about his first steps in a totally new culture in Azerbaijan, check out his article here.

December 2014: unfortunately the volunteers placed in Azerbaijan had to leave the country due to issues related to their residence permit. We are very sad about this :(

January 2015: check out the articles of Lucie and Hanna doing their European Voluntary Service in Rustavi, Georgia: here for Lucie’s article and here for Hanna’s article!

February 2015: the coordinators and volunteers met in Tbilisi to discuss the service

April 2015: Hanna and Lucie attended the Mid-Term Evaluation on 26-29 April in Georgia, organised by SALTO-EECA.

July 2015: Lucie came back to Germany already, 10 and a half month after arrival

July 2015: article from Hanna, read it here!

September 2015: Lucie is back in Germany since one month and finally read her secret letter, that she wrote to herself before the departure to Georgia. Read here about how it felt.

October 2015: back in Germany! Hanna had a great hiking trip in the high Caucasus before heading back home. You can read about it here.  Moreover, Hanna and Lucie attended the ComeBack2015 event (external link) organised by Jugend für Europa in Berlin on October 2-4, 2015. A great opportunity to reflect on the past year and network for upcoming involvement.

Pictures of the volunteers in Azerbaijan

Pictures of the volunteers in Georgia