Waking up in Ganja, early morning, with a lack of sleep from the late night arrival, was tough. Maybe there was a sense of demotivation from the beginning? The group was strange, interesting in its composition. Participants and trainers from a wide range of European countries – how would we ever be able to work together?
We started off with a range of name-playing games and team building exercises. We had to create a Facebook page for each person, using strangely cooperative means to get to know each other’s most inner dreams and accomplishments. What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done? How many countries have you visited? What kind of TV shows do you like? People became less of a mass, more of a group, slowly.
Doing difficult exercises helped us through a ‘tornado’ of emotions – we weren’t a good group, we couldn’t cooperate. Some yelled loud, were stubborn, some just leaned back and were annoyed. And the only thing we had to do was moving pens and throwing them in the air! It sounds so simple.. But it wasn’t. When we finally accomplished the task, we yelled in joy, it was so fun! People were suddenly human beings, with personalities, instead of just strangers.
We discussed what our aim for participation was – what we want to do with the capacities we hope to build here, and what capacities we actually did expect to build. Adjusted our expectations, and the trainers subsequently adjusted the programme accordingly. They made it clear that we are not here to be judged or graded, but to build something collectively and individually, and use this to reflect on ourselves and the future we hope to change with each our projects.
We also discussed what a successful trainer is – most groups seemed to agree. Keep your head cool. Have humour. Be inspirational. Be fair and just, and many many other things. We were introduced to the holistic approach, and drew ourselves, with the duality of the competences we already possess, and the skills we wish to develop in our future: as trainers, as teachers, as coaches.
We also had an *amazing* Danish coffee break, with liquorice pipes (not so popular) and butter cookies (more popular), and Johanne and Mia hit it off with a song and dance around an imaginary christmas tree, as the Danish tradition prescribes.
But most of all, just being in Ganja, Azerbaijan, was the biggest experience. For Johanne, this became an intercultural blast. So many impressions of Azerbaijan, of the different peoples, cultures and conflicts represented within the group. She felt she was met by a stunning open mindedness and eagerness to debate and share our thoughts. A lack of judgement from others, just openness. Many of the countries represented are not famous for the traditional Dane, so it is an honour to be here in beautiful Azerbaijan, surrounded with people from across Europe.
We ended the day with a cosy walk through the cool Ganja evening. We were taken to beautiful squares, and a pretty and green park, where we shared tea, coffee and shisha. We talked much. Then, off to a dodgy basement/cave, with funny lights, intriguing (but good and interesting) music, good spirits, dancing and beer. It got late for some. We had great fun!
For a day one of a seminar, Mia believed the group had developed fairly well – we had really gotten to know each other, and there seemed to be no negative sentiment, plus a generally positive attitude.
We are so happy to be here, in Azerbaijan.
Kisses from Denmark: Johanne and Mia.