Georgia on our minds …

Bauhaus Café CIC were thrilled to realise their dream of a youth exchange to beautiful and little-known Georgia for young creatives, again generously funded by Erasmus+.

The name was ‘Mind My Art, Would You?’ and was aimed at youths aged 18 to 30 from disadvantaged backgrounds to help support them to take their creative talents into employment.

Excited, yet dubious they came together as groups across eight countries; Georgia, Azerbaijan, The Ukraine, Cyprus, Turkey, Armenia, France and of course the UK and many met their participants the first time just before the trip, forging what they didn’t know then, would become some significant and lifelong friendships.

The French and UK team met on the plane and shared a hair-raising bus journey from the airport to Kobuleti. Strong bonds started forming immediately. The two groups arrived in the small hours in darkness to a lovely hotel on The Black Sea (that wasn’t black at all!). Each participant was allocated to a single sex room for three, each from a different country, so the interculturalism started from the outset.

Next morning, the new friends awoke to a miserable wet day but were astounded at the breath-taking views from the roof top dining room of The Black Sea to one side and snow topped mountains to the other. Waiting for the groups from the other countries to trickle in from near and far, the French and the English (later affectionately known as the ‘Frenglish’!) had the opportunity to explore the town, its markets, its multitude of thrift shops and of course the bars and cafes. The Georgian locals were absolutely delighted to come across the Western Europeans in their little town, eagerly taking selfies with them and inviting them for free shots of Cha-cha, the national brandy. Dances and music were even performed to the young people in shops, markets and bars amongst great hilarity and laughter.

In dribs and drabs the other groups arrived at all hours of the day and night and the job in hand was ready to begin. We had lots of icebreakers and energising games and everyone was encouraged to mix with different nationals fully. The lingua franca was English, but some participants struggled with this in the beginning, but as confidence grew and inhibitions dropped, the language barrier broke down. The talent grouped together in that building in tiny Kobuleti in modest Georgia was jaw dropping. There were artists, poets, photographers, musicians, actors, writers and much more. To have them all together in one space, especially as the inhibitions broke down, was truly electrifying.

The sun suddenly came out, the streets dried up, flipflops replaced boots, jetlag was slept off, the mood hit sky high, the sound of laughter, music, pen scratching, lenses clicking, and poetry filled the air and the youth exchange was well underway.

Workshops were diverse, interactive, creative and fun. They were run by different countries and were adapted to the needs and the wishes of the participants. Once everyone had integrated and talked about their fears and expectations, we launched into a wonderful day learning about social inclusion and multiculturalism especially in the creative arts. This was led by the Armenian group and it was fascinating to hear from all the different countries and the different approaches there towards the creative industries. Comradeships were quickly being formed and in between the activities there were regular impromptu trips to the close by beach where the common sounds were of waves crashing, laughter and music.

Every country was expected to put on a ‘cultural night’ where they were to immerse the other groups in their home land’s traditions, beliefs, costumes, history, dance, politics, art, music and of course food and drink. We were not disappointed and indulged all our senses night after night with delights and experiences from Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, The Ukraine, the Frenglish and of course Georgia. Georgia’s night was the climax as host country and we were taken to a local traditional restaurant where different dishes were continually brought to us and we were plied with Georgian wines (one of their major industries) and drinks. There was a toastmaster who led the feast known as a Tamadar and the eating and drinking was very structured by him.  The atmosphere was celebratory and then we were wowed by a young Georgian girl who floated around the dance floor like a swan as a Georgian young man danced around her in what seemed like a seduction ritual. Imagine our surprise when another young man leapt onto the dance floor out of nowhere and competed with the first for the attanetion of the ‘swan’!

Other workshops included how to attract the media, successful social media use, PR and marketing, vlogging, blogging, making vision boards and so much more delivered by Bauhaus Café CIC trainers. Everyone learned a lot from them, but they were not the most valuable of the whole experience, it was the networking and interaction between the different creatives from all cultures and all walks of life. Friendships were made for life, confidences were boosted, resolutions made, and lives were changed.

As young Naomi Houlton, photographer from Ashford said, “I was nervous in the beginning, but we had a few days to bond; we were all there for the same reason albeit from different cultures.  I have grown hugely in self-confidence. When I went back to my day job, they said I was a ‘changed woman!’ “

Bauhaus Café CIC is planning another exchange in the Spring with the same participants called ‘Six Months On.’ Here we will see how everyone has progressed in their chosen creative career following ‘Mind My Art, Would You’ climaxing in an exhibition and concert. Each member is already receiving ongoing support from Bauhaus Café and we know for example that Ashford based Naomi is doing some voluntary photography work, entering competitions and so on; definitely moving towards a paid career in photography. She has also appeared in local media. Boris MVD, from France has set up social media to platform his art and has had a successful exhibition. The success stories are pouring in and we are expecting many more. This exchange really has had a huge positive impact on so many.

If you are interested in getting involved in Bauhaus café and/or youth exchanges, we would love to hear from you.

Please contact us on info@bauhauscafe.co.uk and prepare to change your life!

We are grateful to all photographers present at the project for all the wonderful photos here and on our social media sites.

By Helena Maltby, Project Coodinator

More from Betsy, our CEO, in the next few days.  She will be talking about Georgia and why you may want to consider visiting and how our Georgian visit changed so many lives for all the partners involved.

 

Bauhaus Cafe CIC hosts very first youth exchange

This year in April, Bauhaus Cafe CIC applied for our very first Erasmus + Youth funding and were delighted to be informed we were successful.

From 5th August to 14th August 2018, we hosted a Youth Exchange, My Creativity Matters.  This is what the exchange was about:

“Research shows that creativity in young people results in mental well being and positive achievement in life.

The project aims to explore creativity in young people with mental health issues by allowing them to learn how to design, develop and deliver programmes using arts, crafts and music, meanwhile creating a valuable volunteering experience motivating young people, teaching them skills and developing their sensitivity and understanding of the world around them. The project will raise the aspirations of young people.

The project wants to allow young people to ‘open up’ and ‘verbalise’ their issues through creativity and be enabled to gain the confidence, motivation and skills needed to be able to reason and make decisions whilst learning to communicate their own understanding of mental well being, their own skills and abilities.  The workshops will motivate, inspire and empower them to volunteer, become self employed, set up enterprises or social enterprises to become self sufficient and fully active citizens, agents of change.

1. Increase levels of motivation, confidence and aspirations of young people up to 25 years old from disadvantaged backgrounds
2. Increase the chances of obtaining employment and maintaining it by offering essential knowledge in personal development, self care, self improvement and communication through creating vision boards using arts and crafts
3. Raise awareness on the importance of volunteering and lifelong learningin aimed at improving long term career prospects of the participants
4. Promote healthy and sustainable behaviours among participants trough specific workshops on the subjects of environment, food and personal self care

By its activities, our project meets the specific objectives pursued by the Erasmus+ in the field of youth to improve the level of key competences and skills of young people, and the empowerment of young people, including and especially those with fewer opportunities.
Youngsters in our project will acquire new competences useful for them on a long term in their process of personal development which is strongly connected with their chances of being employed.

Empowering young people means that:
More young people have the support, opportunities, skills and resilience they need for the future
Young people have better relationships with their support networks and communities
Young people have improved health and wellbeing
We would ensure that young people are heavily involved in the design and delivery of the project as taking ownership means that they will value the project and be more keen to make a success of it”

Our group stayed at The Grand Burstin during the exchange.  Management at The Grand Burstin were wonderful and they had gone above and beyond their call of duty to ensure our group has a memorable stay and we are really grateful to them, especially Barry Lane.

We were very impressed with the creative talent of the group which included musicians, artists, politics students and even an odd student of medicine or two, among others.  They produced high quality work and enjoyed doing it too.  Thei created Vision Boards, wrote poetry, played music and even performed at an Open Mic afternoon at Lime Bar Folkestone.  It’s even clearer to us now that creative young people don’t get enough guidance and advice to take their career forward once they leave academic environments.  We were happy to have contributed, and provided enough advice and knowledge they can use to make more informed choices and decisions.

We’d like to thank all the participants for working hard towards the aims of the project and we hope they will continue to be motivated and move forward and make a success of their career.  We’re very proud of you and hope to see you very soon again here is the UK or somewhere in the world.

We’d also like to thank Michal Kaminski (known as Rovaneche), artist, and Dave James Horn, Poet, our volunteer Levi who helped with filming, and Matt for helping to deliver the project, as well as partner group leaders Yiannis, Christos, Marta, Ramin and Emre for their contributions, workshops, energisers and much more.

We’re off the Georgia to deliver our second project and we can’t wait.

Here are some images of some of the participants with their vision boards, you did an amazing job.  There will be a photobook available soon so I hope you’ll be able to get a copy each.

Enjoy