Today was the last day of the Youth Forum. On Wednesday, we were present at the forum but did not have an active facilitating role. Yesterday we did one exercise in the morning and today, was the final day. When we agreed to be part of this gathering I had some concerns around the focus because of its subtitle “Intercultural and Inter-Religious Dialogue as a Tool for Combating Hate Speech and Hate Accidents (we learned this was meant to be “Incidents”) in Europe”. As we moved into the work it was clear to Turtle and me that part of our role at the forum was to open way for questions about using a term such as “Hate Speech” and what happens when we create “the other”. In the closing today there was talk of needing to find a term that came from a positive place – looking at, and talking about using our positive energy to combat that which is negative; acknowledging that negative energy cannot overcome negative energy. There were times when I almost heard Martin Luther King, Jr.’s words in the room. It felt good to know that our presence was part of what moved this conversation forward.
In our time at the Forum, we built a warm and wonderful relationship with Natia Giorgidze, the primary facilitator of the Youth Forum who, it turned out was a former AVP facilitator and friend of Maia’s with whom she had lost contact. They swore that they would not loose track of one another again!
It appears that what is left of our time in Sakartvelo will be a bit quieter than we’d expected. Tomorrow morning we will go to Maia’s daughter, Natulie’s home so that Maia will have access to a piano and be able to teach us a Georgian song. From there we’ll travel on for a meeting at the US Embassy at 2:00. The following day we’ll do a training workshop for AVP facilitators. Wednesday we’re promised a day of sightseeing. I’m really looking forward to being out in this beautiful country. I suspect that we may go to places that I’ve seen before like the first capital, Mtskheta. It feels like I just can’t get enough! On the other hand, my bed, and Max the cat, are beginning to call to me.