Program: Visegrad fund
Venue: Lankaran, Azerbaijan
Dates: 26 August—1 September 2021
National team: Dominik Zábelka (facilitator), Anna Neterdová
Participating countries: Azerbaijan, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia
Hosting organisation: Müasir Gənclərin İnkişafına Dəstək İctimai Birliyi/Support for the Growth of Modern Youth’ Development Public Union
Our journey started on 26th August in Prague airport where I met Dominik. First, we flew from Prague to Istanbul, and second and the last flight was from Istanbul to Baku. Right after we passed the visa and passport control, we met Rufat who took us to the hotel in Baku for the night. He was the first guy from this project we met. After getting to the hotel, we went for a little night walk to the seaside and grabbed drinks in the city.
The next morning, we woke up to sunny, warm weather and crossed paths with other international participants of the Facilitators school. Exploring Baku was ahead of us. We started with a tasty breakfast where we probably ate everything from the typical Azerbaijani breakfast menu. After breakfast, two guides took us to the city center to see Flame Towers, Maiden Tower in the Old Town. We have visited the Museum of the smallest books in the world too. After lunch, we headed to Lankaran to meet others.
After check-in at the hotel and meeting Azerbaijani participants, we went to the beach to enjoy the weather before the sunset. It surprised me that no one can enter the sea after 8 pm, the police are watching it over and penalizing it. Past the dinner, we officially started the project meeting in the conference room. We just set a schedule and workshops.
Firsts workshops started with name games, there were around 18 new people, and we were trying to remember their names. All the workshops were connected to making a team spirit, how to get to know each other better, and finally, who is a facilitator and what is his/her purpose. We found out the differences between a facilitator and a trainer during a funny game prepared by Barbara from Poland, then Dominik provided us with a workshop presented from the pool. He showed us an exceptional form of presenting and choosing the place to make a workshop. In other workshops, we made mind maps about formal and informal education. We acknowledged how to prepare SWOT analysis or about Bloom`s taxonomy. Lukas from Slovakia was great with his energizers before the sessions. We also prepared our workshops in small groups where we were facilitators and asked others to join us as participants. Our workshop was „Swimming basics “, all of us had so much fun.
In the middle of the week, we went on the trip. First, we visited the Lankaran tea plantation. For me, as a nature lover, the best part of our trip was Xanbulan lake, which was simply amazing. The last stop was in the museum of Heydar Aliyev.
One evening was dedicated to Culture night where we said a few words about our countries and tasted food from each other. Our Azerbaijani friends prepared some sweets and my beloved baklava. We heard many songs, which we surprisingly liked, and we also tried to learn national Azeri dance.
The last day came and we had to say bye to our friends and leave Lankaran. Rufat took us to Baku, and we made two stops – first, he took us to the flame which has been firing for 40 000 years and it is not possible to smother it. And the last thing we saw from Baku was the Heydar Aliyev center, a modern architectural building. It was simply awesome.
I was surprised by this country, people, and the project itself. I have learned so many things about the activities for youth people, how to prepare for a successful workshop, and gained facilitators skills that I can use from now on.
I will be more than glad to participate in other projects. Thank you for having me in this project, for this opportunity. Also, thanks to Rufat, Huseyn, Fagan and other locals for being helpful and translated to Azerbaijani for me. It was nice to meet new people from Poland and Slovakia. And the last, but the best – thanks Dominik for being patient with me and for holding up with me the whole time, both on the way and in Azerbaijan.