First workshop session at Skra IDP settlement

IMG_3929 We started on a Monday morning the five of us from Tbilisi on our way to Skra IDP settlement just after Gori.  Our team consisted of Alice and I, two EVS-ers,  plus three DRONI local volunteers; Giorgi, Tamara and Irakli. We were all more than motivated to start with our Photography and Creative Writing Workshops which took place at the Youth Center of the Skra IDP settlement during the five following days.

Our workshop is part of Youth Without Borders program and it takes place in three different IDP settlements in Georgia. It focuses on creative writing and photography as tools for self- discovery, expression and sharing with others. The main goal of this workshop is to make the connection between speech and image as means of self- representation and self- expression.

The first session took place at Skra IDP settlement. We had more than 15 participants between 13-19 years old, mostly girls. Most of the teenagers were also living in the settlement itself as we actually did; the five of us stayed for five days in one of the settlement houses experiencing the life of the local people.

IMG_4040The structure of the workshop was divided in five stages. We tried to go deeper into each stage throughout the five days we stayed at Skra. At the first stage of Day 1 we tried to introduce the concepts of creative writing and photography via educational games such as the Literary phone during which children write a story all together by using keywords given. The second focus point of this day was the Inspiring photos session during which children choose a photo and have to link it to their personality and interests. A last wrap up session about more structured info on photography and creative writing was necessary for making the link between informal and formal ways of learning. An open air cinema activity ended the day with fun.

On Day 2 we went more in depth and action by asking children to write a story about a memory by choosing one of the various objects we had on the table and then go out in the settlement fields and make a photo related to their story. Some very impressive results inspired by the photo prezi presentation we had just given before were showed here. Outdoor sport games helped us finish the day with energy and fun.

IMG_3700On Day 3 children were asked to write about an emotion that was randomly given to them without stating what it is; therefore describe it without saying it. Various emotions and interesting definitions were the result of this writing exercise and the photography exercise that followed made it even better. Children went out in the fields and read their stories to each other in couples. Then the person hearing the story had to guess the feeling and make a facial expression representing it for the other person of the pair to make his/her portrait. A last wrap up session of collecting stories and photos and discussing about them followed. Evening activities included the photography exercise of a person with his/her favourite object and the sharing of the story behind it. In many cases the object became part of the group entertainment as most of them were traditional instruments etc.

On Day 4 we had our last creative writing exercise named This I believe in. Children had to write about a value or belief they have and accompany their story with a photo inspiring for them. Family, religion and friendship were some of the main elements included in stories and photos children made varied a lot. For example god was represented by a windy landscape or a holy symbol etc. Our goodbye party took place by the end of this day.

IMG_3720On Day 5 we had an extensive discussion and evaluation of the whole workshop and a last theatrical play named Raising Voices of the kids making their own characters and presenting them on stage in couples. As children had been more than motivated full of positive energy and creativity, it had been great to spend one week at Skra and tomorrow we have the second round of our workshops for five days at Shaumiani IDP settlement. Looking forward to it!


Second workshop at Tbilisi Sea School

IMG_1658On 6 March, the DRONI EVS together with local volunteers, visited the IDP settlements of the Tbilisi Sea School. Students actively participated in the outdoor session of activities related to the Mother’s Day! Games, energizers and pantomime strengthened children’s participation and entertained them during the workshop! The upcoming Thursday we are planning comics workshops and a short theatrical play with the children. More info coming soon!

Youth without boarders: Creative writing and photography workshops at IDP settlements

Tbilisi Sea School IDP settlement

Tbilisi Sea School IDP settlement

The rest of my project plans for the following months are related to the Youth without boarders project in the framework of which I will be preparing creative writing and photography workshops in three different IDP settlements in and around Tbilisi (Skra, Shaumiani and Tbilisi Sea school). Workshops will focus on creative writing and photography as tools for self- discovery, expression and sharing with others. The main goal of the workshops will be to make the connection between speech and image as means of self- representation and self- expression.

The main aim will be to give participants the opportunity to realize, imagine, create and share using two different interlinked tools (image and speech) while creating their own personal photo story linked to their daily life and future expectations.

After brief introductions and examples on the topics of creative writing and photography, the participants will be divided in groups and will be asked to make their own photos using digital cameras that will be distributed to them. They will then present their photos explaining the stories behind their pictures, first in oral and then in written language.

An exhibition of combined photo- work and narrative (personal photo stories) will be the final result of this workshop. As a result, the participants will increase their self- confidence, will experiment on different topics and share their visions with others. Preparation process has already started and I am looking forward to visiting the settlements for starting with the implementation of activities, hopefully from April and on!