Non-Formal Education Tools and Methods for Democratic Changes. Batumi. July 5-14, 2015

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DSC01627As soon as the project was approved we started communications with partners. All the partners received the information that the project was approved and they can select the participants. The first edition of info-pack was distributed among the partners and future participants. The Application Form was created and sent to the partners for their participants to fill in. The form contained not only general questions, but some special parts that we needed for the project, like “What’s your definition of Democracy” and “Which session you can propose to conduct during the session?”. When the hotel was booked the partners and future participants received the second edition of info-pack containing more detailed information on how to get there, what the temperature will be, which clothes to take according to the weather and active games, what to bring for training sessions, intercultural party and other special activities. The info-pack also contained a small English-Georgian dictionary. When we knew more or less half of the participants, we started to panic about gender balance, as we had 2/3 of girls. We started to ask other partners, who did not send the information about their participants, to send us more boys, but they failed in this task, and we ended up with a group of 17 girls and 11 boys.

A Facebook group for the project was created and the partners were asked to invite their participants to join. The group contained the same information as the info-pack, plus was used to some practical arrangements. Later during the project participants started to use it to communicate and share materials. The link to the group is:

As we were organizing this TC in Georgia, nobody needed visas. In the info-pack we asked the participants to take responsibility and to buy insurance policies. Starting communications with the participants, we asked them not to buy any tickets without consulting us. We were helping the participants to select the cheapest tickets, consulting them on flight options plus on transportation inside Georgia with the help of local partner. Not all the teams could stay in the frameworks of European Commission Distance calculator. Some had to take more complicated trip, like Bosnian team, that bought tickets Sarajevo-Trabzon, and then started to ask how to get to Batumi from Trabzon. The Bulgarian team refused to buy tickets at all, as the prices for them started from Euro 500 when, according to the distance calculator, they could be reimbursed only Euro 275. As the result, we had to consult the National Agency on this issue and received a suggestion to ask the existing partners from the countries with the same budget to bring one more participant to replace two missing Bulgarian representatives. So the Turkish and Russian teams brought three representatives each. 

DSCN0062Together with Georgian partner we were looking for the venue. We selected three hotels more or less centrally located, and started negotiations with them. Finally we booked the one with the better price and a conference room with a set of twin and single rooms, plus one triple room. Remembering the last year’s experience when the participants did not like the food provided by the hotel, we agreed only on breakfasts and the dinner for the first night. All the lunches we were doing in local traditional restaurants – Georgian,
Armenian and Turkish – to show the participants the diversity of local cultures and to have different types of food. For the dinners we decided to distribute some money so the participants will be responsible for their food themselves, and they liked this approach.

Preparing the project we were doing the risk assessment considering all possible hazards including active games as part of non-formal education tools, possible intercultural and interreligious tensions, possible gender issues. One of our key staff has been to a special SALTO training regarding risk management, and the knowledge gained during that training helped us to provide safe surroundings for the participants of this TC. On the first day of the project we announced that there are two people among the trainers team (a boy and a girl) to whom the participants can come and share if there are any problems/tensions/misunderstandings etc. We also informed the participants about the dangers of sea and local food.

This TC was facilitated by two trainers from the Netherlands (Maria Kopelyan and Tahmina Ashraf) plus one local trainer (Teimuraz Shamoian).

Together with the info-pack all the participants received a questionnaire. One day of the program was dedicated to the sessions led by the participants. Last time we tried this approach and found it really interesting, helpful and educative. The participants were sharing best practices, tools and methods used by their organizations and their peers could learn and compare with their work. As this practice approved itself we decided to repeat it in this project also. The questionnaires distributed among the participants via e-mail asked basic information (name, gender, age, experience in youth work, experience with Youth in DSCN0119Action/Erasmus Plus programme, health issues/limitations, dietary preferences/allergies) and also contained a question about the session the participant intends to conduct. After all the questionnaires were collected the trainers team selected options most relevant to our program and asked their authors to make all necessary preparations and arrangements if needed and conduct the session during the day led by the participants. The information about health issues/limitations and dietary preferences/allergies was taken into consideration and discussed with the hotel/hostel staff responsible. The info-pack contained a special section, and this information was also announced loudly during the first day of the training, that there are two people (a man and a woman) among the organizers, who are responsible for different issues related to health, comfort, conflict situations, gender issues etc., so the participants knew whom to approach in case something unexpected happened. The questionnaire also contained a special question for the “Democracy” game, plus a question about the democratic changes in the country the participant would like to achieve.

As it was already mentioned, we had both experience in assisting participants in look for tickets and knowledge of Georgian logistics. Four airports were engaged – Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi in Georgia plus Trabzon in Turkey. Helping to purchase all the tickets and collecting all the arrival details, we were informing the participants how to get to the venue. The info-pack contained a map on how to find hotel, and the picture of the hotel and a name in Georgian so people will not miss it. As the participants were arriving on different days from different airports, we could not organize a meeting, but, collected all the arrival information, we tried to suggest them to travel in groups that we made for them and posted on project’s facebook page. The participants were happy to use this method.

Two Intercultural parties and an Ajarian night (“Tamada’s party”) were organized for the participants to get acquainted with the cultures of other participating countries (food, drinks, music, dances, traditional games, costumes, etc.) and the hosting country. Plus we added intercultural lunches in Georgian, Armenian and Turkish restaurants which proved a success. Originally we decided to split Intercultural party in three nights to give the participants more time for their presentations. The plan was to split them in three groups according to the region (Eastern, Central and Western Europe). But discussing this with the participants turned out they would prefer to have one more evening for informal communication, so we compromised on two. The Ajarian night (“Tamada’s party”) took place in a local restaurant with traditional food and music that some of the organizers and participants already knew from the previous times in Batumi.



DSCN0092Each partner organisation selected two participants, the organizers RI-WEB – two trainers and one participant, Georgian partner – one trainer and two participants, Turkish and Russian partners were asked to select a third participant each to replace the Bulgarian team. The participants selected by the partner organisation were the most socially active representatives involved in youth work. A special questionnaire was prepared and sent to all the partners for their participants to fill in. When there were more applications from one organisation than needed, we did the selection together with the partner organization, like it was with Turkish and Georgian teams. Their main needs were intercultural learning, cultural awareness, democracy and EU values, new tools and methods of non-formal education, new methods of social activism, project management, development of new projects.

According to the Application forms the participants filled, only five of 28 participants have participated in Youth in Action/Erasmus+ project for the first time. Other participants were much more experienced, participating in number of project each. The motivation behind their participation was different, the most significant quotes from their “Motivation” parts are: “I am young motivated person, deeply empowered by western (democratic) values. Values that are represented to my country by recommendations of western institutions some of which has been considered and many has become an issue of social transformation. This process became a transit of epochal changes that created new necessities for governmental, as well as for social well being that is a key of EU integration. On the way together with implementation of recommendations of EU, various works has to be done on the grass roots level. In my opinion this training course on Non-formal Education Tools and Methods for Democratic Changes will be crucial for my personal development – Vitali Safarov, Georgia”; “The project that you are going to organize in Batumi is a great chance for me to increase awareness about cultural learning. It will be really interesting to learn new non formal educational tools that I can use in every area of my life to educate in better way would be really good. Combining tools and method with democratic changes sound cool. So it would be great chance for me to participate in this kind of multicultural project which include thirteen different partners from all over the world. Hope we all will enjoy and learn a lot. – Mehmet Eren Kurtoglu, Turkey”; “I would really like to be a part of this project, because in my opinion, non-formal education is the best way to learn new things. I like to learn, I like to widen my point of DSCN9969view with new knowledge. And if the project is about non-formal education, then it’s definitely a place where to learn a lot new things, learn about new cultures and widen a perspective of life. And that’s a great way of self-development as well. – Anna Gronka, Latvia”; “I would like to participate in that training course, because I would like to know more about democratic work in other countries. Do they have the same problems that we have or different problems, that we already don't have. – Nora Gavare, Latvia”; “My motivation is to learn about the democracy in the other countries and certainly to use again knowledge in my country – Zinaida Gasoian, Georgia”; “It is significant for me to have an active participation in this project because it will help me to research on the field I'm actually interested in, to point the problems and find solutions, to gain even more knowledge on democracy and European values, to create new approaches in support of democracy. – Vache Harutyunyan, Armenia”; “Firstly, my motivation is to learn about the values of teamwork and the group dynamics through the specific activities you offer. Furthermore I would like to help, at least locally, to the social inclusion of the young people and the youth activism. – Stavros Kasimatis, Greece”; “I’m studying International Relations and Organizations and we learn a lot about democratic changes, political concepts, human rights etc. I think my knowledge about these subjects could contribute to the project and its aim. My motivation is not only based on my interests. I, myself, was a refugee from Serbia and Montenegro during the Yugoslavian War. I know the perspectives of the people in both Serbia and Montenegro and the Netherlands on democracy. And I have my own perspective of what both Serbia and Montenegro, but also the Netherlands could change to improve their level of democracy. I would like to be involved in the democratization of states and nations. – Milos Veljovic, Netherlands”; “Intercultural project is one of the most useful things that I faced in my life, I want to join one more project as I feel that with all my experience and knowledge I’m able to bring something good to society. – Olha Martynets, Ukraine”.

DSCN0024Filling the Applicatin Form, the participants had to answer, what impact their participation in this TC will have on their organizations and their future work. Some of the answers were: “Our organization also has an active role in society. The new methods and tools that we will learn from the TC would give a chance to use it and expand our point of view. – Mehmet Eran Kurtoglu, Turkey”; “I recently started working in Analytical Center for Interethnic Cooperation and Consultations, an NGO based in Georgia, Tbilisi. I think the training course will be very useful to me in active work of my organization. – Vitali Safarov, Georgia”; “In every kind of view, because in our organization and local community we work with the similar topics, achieved knowledge we will share with our youth. – Erma Dautovic, Boania and Herzegovina”; “These kind of projects have a lot of great activities, like team-building, what would be useful to go though in my Youth Council where I am taking part. Youth Council is all about people, and about what people can make happen. It’s really important for people to have strong connection between themselves if there is a lot of teamwork ahead of them. In my Youth Council we need to grow in few things, and one of those things is to strenghten relationship between the people who are in the Council, because it’s kind of new organisation. It’s definetely a thing what I would like to learn in Batumi project and bring back to my Youth Council. – Anna Gronska, Latvia”; “To raise awareness among the students and minority groups we involve in different projects – Zinaida Gasoian, Georgia”; “This Training Course will make me get more inspired and motivate myself to go on doing something I really care about. I aim at sharing the gained vision with my colleagues encouraging them to join, to research, to support me and the work in order to make something of value together. – Hasmik Hakhyan, Armenia”; “All types of education are important and I believe that these are perfect to apply in my environment. Once we work with Erasmus students that give their contribution to my society but that also receive from it, I believe that we could pass this message to them, then that could be spread all over the world when they return to their hometowns. – Joana Soares, Portugal”; “I work with training teachers so I think it will have a big impact in the results of my organization. – Mara Pinto, Portugal”; “After the training course I plan to apply for the Erasmus+ project. I will use my acquired knowledge to write an application and run the project. – Anastassia Kortsinskaya, Estonia”; “I could be a multiplier of acquired knowledge on different training courses our NGO is involved.  I will share my knowledge during summer camp I work in Estonia which is held every year. – Pavel Smulski, Estonia”; “I want to create my own youth project and DSC01684realize it with my organization. I suppose this training will give me skills, values and knowledge that I will be able to apply and spread within my young colleagues and friends. – Olha Martynets, Ukraine”; “My participation will have a positive impact in our organization’s future work because I am sure that this TC will be an opportunity to equip us with new tools and methodology that I will put into practice  in my everyday work with young people for the democratic changes in my society. After I will came back for this Training I will made a presentation with my organization staff and our ALF network members in order to transfer the knowledge I will gain there. – Laura Xhaxhiu, Albania”.

During this TC the participants came to the common understanding of basic European values. The youth workers from different countries collected by this training received all the necessary knowledge and skills to become multipliers of this experience in their countries. The participants shared tools and methods of non-formal education that they will use in their future work with youth for the democratic changes in their countries and created new approaches for future projects in support of democracy. The methods shared during the Day of sessions led by the participants, plus experiencing the methods we used, gave them really broad perspective of the tools and methods they could use to increase the capacity of their organisations and the quality of their work. The partnerships and project ideas developed in the frameworks of this TC empowered the participants and their organisations and made their work much more efficient. It influenced the quality of future work of their organisations and created possibilities for new joint projects. Learning each other’s approaches to social activism and projects in support of democracy, the participants are able use this knowledge to create similar projects in their countries. As all the partner organisations work with youth or local communities, the target groups would benefit from these new approaches and project ideas.

In this project we made a big accent to intercultural learning and cultural awareness. The participants learned a lot about different cultures from their peers and also from the surroundings which helped them to be more tolerant and open minded and to promote intercultural communication in their countries.

The partners involved in this project are from different parts of Europe – from Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Russia and Ukraine. The active involvement of partner organizations in all steps of this project’s implementation ensures their need of specific knowledge and skills that their representatives gained and will disseminate. All the participants showed their commitment to youth work and their eagerness to use newly gained or improved skills in their future work. The Georgian team was helping a lot with their knowledge of language and local culture.


DSCN0152The participants selected by the partner organizations were real representatives of NGOs, not “tourists”, as it happens sometimes. They were motivated to participate, to meet new people, to learn about new cultures, to gain new experience. During some sessions the participant were asked to make a research in their national teams on some particular topics, for example about the democracy in their countries or about the understanding of culture, or about the situation with ethnic minorities and the attitudes of the society and the authorities towards them – the participants did impressive work researching and presenting the results to the group. One day of the program was scheduled for the sessions led by the participants. Filling the Application Form some of the participants suggested the topics, in total 12 sessions were proposed, and the trainers team selected four most interesting and relevant to the project objectives. So we had four great sessions: “The Language Barrier” by Mara Pinto from Portugal, “The Difference Between Ancient and Contemporary Democracy” by Eleni Tatsi from Greece, “Media Biases: Content Analyses” by Pavel Smulski from Estonia and “City Development” by Samet Firat Soydemir from Turkey. The Application Form also included a question “Your understanding of Democracy”. After all the definitions made by the participants were received, the trainers team selected six most interesting of them. During a Democracy session we put these definitions on the walls faking the famous people’s quotes. The participants had to find the most relevant one for themselves and explain why. According to the number of participants under the particular quote, the most popular one with 8 votes was: “Democracy is a system of government in which people have equal rights and freedom of speech for the full expression of own opinion – M.L.King” (Vache Harutyunyan, Armenia). Other two quotes shared 5 votes each: “Democracy is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system – F.D.Roosevelt” (Erma Dautovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina) and “Democracy, in my opinion, when everybody and everything is even and fair – Dalai Lama” (Anna Gronska, Latvia), four votes got the quote: “Democracy is a way of living in Peace – Mahatma Ghandi” (Mehmet Eren Kurtogly, Turkey), one vote got “Democracy means that all people should be able to have their say in one way or another in everything that affects their lives – John Lennon” (Olha Martynets, Ukraine) and “A state of society characterized by formal equality of rights and privileges – A.Lincoln” (Dino Hasanbegovic, Bosnia and Herzegovina) got no votes.  The participants were deeply surprised when the truth about the ownership of the quotes was revealed.

We continued about democracy in a session where we divided participants in three groups according to their regions and asked what is democracy in their understanding. The results were quite different and controversial as the participants’ attitudes were mostly critical.

  • Latvia/Estonia/Portugal/Netherlands – Some liberty, Some rights, Some obligations, Some freedom
  • Georgia/Armenia/Russia/Ukraine – Human rights, Freedom of speech, Transparent court, Elections, Corruption, Minorities, Freedom of assembly
  • Turkey/Albania/BiH/Greece – don’t believe in democracy as a majority of the group. “It does not fulfill our expectations. It’s utopic”.

General conclusion: “Why should we take a system and put it somewhere where it is not working? It might be great utopia, but we are human and it does not work as any other utopia. For working democracy you need educated people, but to prosper you need workers. People understood that democracy is not fair. Big question for all our societies.”

During the Cultural Codes session we asked the participants to define culture in their national teams. They came out with this list:

What is culture according to understanding in your country?

  • Estonia

-        Social representations.        Code of behaviour.        Food.         Imaginary things

  •   Turkey

-        Ethnicity. History. Food, Politics. Philosophy understanding.

  • Ukraine

-        DSCN9910  Mental things: behaviour, traditions, upbringing, habits, relationships, respect.        Art: architecture, textile.               Literature: language, poetry, honor for speaking national language, using bad words.       Dance/Music/Holidays.              Religion.      Food

  •     Armenia

-            Language.       History/Traditions.   Religion.       Parental love

  •      Greece

-            Philosophy.       Traditions and customs.    History.      Language.        Religion.       Education.         Food. In Greek we have a different meaning. Culture is a part of civilization and it represent intellectual traditions.

  • Georgia

-        Hospitality.        Traditions and Mentality.      History and Ancestors.      Cuisine.     Religion/Language.         Respect

  • Netherlands

-        Language.    History.        Food.     Time.     Nationality.       Looks. 

  • Latvia

-        Food.     Traditions.     Language.    Mentality.     History

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

-          DSC01632  Food.        Religion.     Music.         History .         Nationality   

  •    Portugal

-            Music: “Fado” – sad, nostalgic; “Ramcho” – folkloric.         Sport: football.    Theatre: revista – sarcastic.       Religion –  Fatima – sanctuary.     Literature/language.      History.        Food. 


-            Civilization.     Traditions.     Language.     Religion(s).         Code of behaviour

  • Russia

-        Language.       Literature.      Arts.         Behaviour.        Perceptions (the puzzling Russian soul)

To generalize the received material, we calculated the most common definitions, and the results were:


DSCN9981  9 votes – Food

  9 votes – Language

  8 votes – History

  7 votes – Religion

  6 votes – Traditions

  4 votes – (Code of) Behaviour


Also mentioned more than once:

Philosophy. Respect. Art . Literature. Music . Mentality. Nationality

The differences between understanding gave us the material to continue discussion on cultural codes, their differences and similarities, different understanding of culture that might lead to conflict situations. To show the participants how the conflict situations might be solved we made a Debates session, plus the whole day of the program was dedicated to Forum Theatre.

An interesting session we had on Minorities issues. Firstly we asked the participants to brainstorm on the definition of minority.

What defines minority


  • Small group of mutual anything
  • Different compared to larger group
  • Group of people in percentage smaller to majority
  • Community
  • Mentality
  • Race
  • Sexual orientation
  • Different culture, beliefs and perspectives
  • Group of people diverse from the majority by some characteristic
  • Specific needs
  • Lifestyle

Then we asked them to make a research in their national teams on the attitudes towards minorities in their countries.

  • Netherlands

DSCN0080Everybody is the same. Minorities are not mentioned. The term “ethnical” exists, but is not recognized by the government. In the North of the country there’s a minority of Dutch indigenous minority speaking their own language. People in minority communities can learn their language.

  • Bosnia and Herzegovina

The country is divided into three parts. That’s why each part has minorities: religious, linguistic etc. There are different state programs for minorities in different parts of the country. The presidents of these parts are being changed frequently, each new one comes with a new legislation. The NGOs are working with minorities. A special program for Roma community exists, but is not implemented.

  • Albania

There is a term “Minorities” in legislation. The number of ethnic minorities in the country equals 0.5 %: Greek, Macedonian, Roma. The Council of Europe convention on Minorities was signed by Albania. Lots of money was being spent on Roma community without any positive changes. The religious division in the country is 57% Muslims, 10,5 Catholics, 6,7% Orthodox.

  • Armenia

The term exists but is not used that much. The minorities are Molokans, Russians, Kurds. They have same rights – to vote, to serve in the army etc. No problems with religion.

  • Ukraine

The minorities are: Crimean Tatars, Russians, Jewish, less than 1% Muslims. The constitution says that “Everybody has a right to confess his religion”. There are LGBT organizations in Kiev, they are officially registered. Lots of ethnic organizations.

  • Turkey

The minorities are recognized by constitution. The parliament consists of representatives of different minorities including Roma and LGBT. The government gives confirmation to gay pride parades. There are Kurdish president and Arabic Prime Minister now. The biggest minority is Kurdish. There is national TV in Kurdish, primary schools etc. Sometimes the minorities got more rights and benefits than the majority. There’s some tax reduction for churches, but not for mosques. Religious minorities are also mentioned in constitution, but Turkey is a secular state. After last elections the Halevi minority is also mentioned n constitution. The government invests in reconstruction of churches, synagogues. The primary school lessons include Religious culture and ethics and explore all religions.

  • Greece

The recognized officially religious minorities are: Muslims (can have schools with religious teachers with salaries paid by state).

  • Portugal

There are special laws for minorities. Gay marriage is allowed. There is social, health and financial support to the minorities.

  • Russia

Putin is helping the minorities.

  • Latvia

The government is covering free learning of minorities’ languages.

  • Estonia

Most of ethnic minorities are from former Soviet Union and are speaking Russian language and considered Russians. Last year the parliament voted for same sex civil partnerships.

  • Georgia

DSC01614There are recognized ethnic/national minorities: Abkhaz, Armenian, Azeri, Kurdish, Assyrian etc. Around 50 different linguistic minorities. Two more official languages in the country are Abkhazian and Ossetian. Religions: Armenian Apostolic Church, Muslim community, other Christian brunches, Ezidy, Jewish – all officially recognized. There are Georgian schools, Armenian, Azeri, Polish, Russian. You can apply to University in Russian, Georgian, Abkhaz, Azeri. Driving licence exam in 8 possible languages. Newspapers, Radio, TV for minorities financed by government. There is a special ministry for minority issues. The government covers up to 70% for building of religious centers. There is also a tax reduction for them. In the places where muslim population is over 55% the 5 times per day Hazan is allowed. Not mentioned among the minorities are: LGBT, people with disabilities.

We were organizing this project in Batumi on a Black sea coast in the middle of Summer expecting nice hot weather. Unfortunately, we had only two warm days without rains in the middle of the project, all other time it was overcast and raining. The weather influenced the program, as we planned outdoor sessions that we have to cancel or move waiting for the weather to improve.

According to the TC's Program, we had a number of different activities planned that meet the objectives of the project. To come to the common understanding of basic European values we implemented: Discussion on Differences in understanding of Democracy; discussion on Cultural codes - our attitudes towards human rights, ethnic and sexual minorities, corruption, religion, people with special needs; Debates on gender equality issues; interactive game and discussion What unites us; interactive game Understanding of democracy, roles of civil society, NGOs, Mass-Media; Ethnic minorities and attitudes towards them from the state, the society, NGOs; Forum Theatre. During the project we were talking a lot about European values and Democracy, a number of project activities was dedicated to this topic. During these activities we came to some controversial results. Not only the understanding of European values is different in different countries, but also the attitudes towards them. Representatives of some countries don’t see Democracy as the ideal working political structure, but as some kind of utopia, ideal dream not possible in the modern society. We had a participants’ session on the history of Democracy, from the Ancient Greece to the modern times, and the majority of participants agreed that Democracy worked much better among the Ancient Greeks, who were free equal men, without considering slaves, women, children etc.

To share the tools and methods of non-formal education we implemented: different ways of our activities, including team-building, icebreakers, energizers, interactive role-play games, debates, Living Library, Forum Theater, city game - the participants could see how different methods and approaches work; a special day with the sessions led by the participants where they learned from their peers; visits to and from local NGOs sharing their tools and methods. According to the program, we planned to use a lot of different methods of non-formal education to give the participants the examples which tools they can use in their work and how, plus sessions led by the participants were planned for the same purpose. We had to make some changes in the program to better fit the groups’ dynamics, so actually we used much more different tools and methods than were originally planned. For example, one of the participants suggested energizer that might be considered sexist in the perception of radical feminists. We decided to address this topic more closely and organized the debates related to the use of this energizer. On the overall, we used work in small groups DSCN0011(groups of two, three, five-six); different discussions; simulations and role-plays, different energizers, ice-breakers, teem-building activities; Living Library; negotiations, games, drawings etc. One day was fully dedicated to Forum Theatre. We had a variety of outdoor sessions – City Game, sessions in the park, sessions at the beach. Even meals had intercultural learning included as we were having lunch in different traditional restaurants – Georgian, Armenian, Turkish.


We had a meeting in the House of Friendship with the leaders of local Armenian, Turkish, Ukrainian, Greek, German, Russian, Jewish communities. Batumi House of Friendship is a state institution belonging to the City Hall. Here it’s necessary to stress that Batumi is a capital of Ajarian Autonomous Republic which is part of Georgia. The majority of Ajarians are Muslims. The meeting started with the greetings from the director of Batumi Department of Education and Culture Natia Surguladze. She underlined the importance of cooperation of Batumi with the EU structures. She also presented the projects implemented in the city in the frameworks of Eastern Partnership programme, and how the city authorities work with ethnic diasporas. The community leaders talked about life in Batumi where the representatives of different nations and religions historically lived together in peace disregarding political and economical changes. The participants had a chance to see it with their own eyes. Georgian, Armenian, Greek churches and a mosque are situated in the city centre. The citizens – Ajarians, Georgians, Armenians, Russian, Turks – were friendly and helpful. We could feel their friendliness everywhere we went – in a hotel, in restaurants, at the streets of the city. In fact multicultural conflict-free society that the majority of EU countries aiming at exists in Batumi for a long time. During the years of independence a lot of unique buildings were created in the city. Of course the participants of the training liked Batumi. An interesting meeting was held in Armenian church. The priest and the leaders of Armenian community of Batumi told the participants about their relationships with local authorities. A meeting with the representatives of local Jewish community was also organized. These meetings helped the participants to better understand the features of intercultural diversity of Batumi. They got practical examples of successful cooperation between different ethnic and religious groups. On the other hand, it was obvious, that Georgia still have to go a long way till the level of development of democratic institutions will reach Netherlands or Germany.

To develop new approaches for the better inclusion of youth in social activism and new joint projects we implemented: Best practices of youth activism - Sessions led by the participants - sharing their best practices the participants got an understanding of different tools and methods of non-formal education that they could use in their future work, and at the same time realize whom they would like to cooperate with in the future plus get some ideas for future joint projects; Networking for democracy was a session directly related to this objective, as well as Follow-up: Ideas for future joint projects in support of democracy. A special session was dedicated to the work on joint projects following the session on project management. The participants created a list of topics and approaches interesting to them, and then selected four most relevant and worked on developing them. In general, the group consisted of representatives of interesting NGOs and there are lots of possibilities for future cooperation that was discussed during the project.

 Another objective of this project was intercultural dialogue and cultural awareness. To meet this objective we implemented: two Intercultural evenings; Cultural codes session; Living Library; Debates on gender issues; Albatros game; Intercultural game in town “East-West”; Ajarian “Tamada party” in town; lunches in Georgian, Armenian and Turkish restaurants; meetings with local NGOs as both positive and negative sides of cultural learning.


DSCN0071The final evaluation the participants were doing on the last day of the project revealed these "likes" for knowledge, skills, sessions and the project in general:

•          All the sessions were informative, but Forum Theatre gave me most.

•          The participants were open-minded.

•          I liked the session that contained the debate because we had to make arguments and try to change the other groups way of thinking and their position to the topic.

•          (One of) the most interesting learning moments were the informal meetings and conversations with other participants about history, culture, politics and arts. I really enjoyed the meeting with the journalist from the local NGO and the debate about the “Compliment to the girls”.

•          One of the most experiences I have ever had in my life. Great people, amazing group, hard work and a lot of fun.

•          Actually, the project was a great experience for me. Batumi, one of the best cities I have ever been, great atmosphere, interesting topic and sessions, different nationalities and various cultures, new friends, hospitable people of Georgia, and delicious food. The first thing I liked was the behaviour, love and patience of organizers towards the participants. Each of us had the chance to express his/her opinion concerning this/that situations.

•          I liked the training course, activities and of course all people. Time in Batumi training course was productively spent. Activities, discussions gained my knowledge, widen my point of view and gained my social skills as well as my argumentation. Our time productively planned, and it wasn’t worthen at all. Time was spent fruitful and fun at the same time.

•          Some of the topics were very interesting; sessions in nature; good friendship atmosphere; friendly team; free time; city game.

•          It was interesting that the participants were from east Europe and we had the opportunity to see our similarities. Also, the games were educational, because we could see our subconscious reactions.

•          City; Participants; Games; Interaction from the participants doing also activities; Different places doing sessions.

•          That some titles were given for thinking, not for answers; Meetings that we had with important people – that gave me a possibility to know how it works here.

•          Organizators; sessions led by participants; lunch in different caffees; teambuilding; cultural evenings; Tamada party.

•          Georgian food; Georgian wine; Forum theatre; Humor within the group.

•          In general program was well designed. Going to different restaurants was also good choice and giving freedom to participants about dinners was kind. I met a lot of valuable and well educated people who inspired me. Activities were inspiring cause we had a lot to discuss.

•          I liked Georgia, Batumi, the people, the participants, the theme, many activities, the programme, the project!

•          Some of participants/leaders were really professional in questions of democracy – great conversation sessions. Some topics were pretty risky, but participants were brave enough to discuss that. Open-air sessions were great. Soft and sincere atmosphere.

During the Youthpass session the participants were asked to make a list of competences and skills they gained/learned/improved during the project. The resulting list is not academic and consists not only of competences and skills, but also of overall impressions and attitudes.

•          Intercultural learning, especially with neighboring countries.         Integration and assimilation of minorities.   Culture .   Local tradition and level of education.   Communicative skills.   Methods of non-formal education.  Moderating skills.  Met representatives of new cultures.   Cultural shock.  Behaviour as part of team.  Relationships   between countries.  History.     Linguistic skills.   Way of thinking.  Theatre.         Broadening the horizon .    Acting skills.  Diplomatic skills.   Politics.  Democracy.     Learning about each other. People are similar. New friends.   New food.  Conflict resolution.  Project management.     Social Media.

DSCN0062With such results we can say that the project’s objectives were achieved. The local communities would benefit from the new approaches, tools and methods acquired by the organizations working with youth through their representatives’ participation in this training and project ideas acquired and created by the participants of this TC will inspire their organizations on new level of work on different levels, starting from their regional till international. We’re sure that the new partnerships were established for future projects during this TC and these projects could influence not only local communities on national or regional levels, but also bigger target groups on European or international levels.

The potential long-term benefits of this project are: more tolerant and open-minded young people in project countries, common understanding of democracy and European values among young people from Western and Eastern Europe, more socially active youth in European countries.