I remember two years ago; I didn’t even know what the term “Job Shadowing” meant. I discovered the meaning when I heard about the Community Action Training (CAT) project, through which I later experienced what it means to be a job shadower.

Before the job shadowing in Jelgava, Latvia, there were training sessions and e-learning processes in Georgia. During these times, we learned about non-violent actions, mobilizing people, group dynamics, conflict management, and were thinking about our projects. Participants were from different countries, representing different cultures, and shared different values. Despite these differences, we managed to create an inclusive and understanding environment in the group. Most of the participants were activists, educators, social workers, and members of non-profit organizations. All of them were working for social changes.

Spending time with them and learning things together was exciting and inspiring at the same time. But what excited me the most about this program was the study sessions based on cooperation and integration and not on competition. We knew that if we wanted the chance to “win” we had to cooperate. I think that’s the main reason why the group dynamic was so friendly. We had many interactions and shared activities, and most importantly, every single person felt welcomed. If I relate this discourse with the existing situation in Georgia, I can say that this project was unique and significant.

After the study sessions, we attended a job shadowing program at the Zemgale NGO Center located in Jelgava, Latvia. It was another inspiring experience. We visited different organizations and institutions in Jelgava and got acquainted with their working process, daily routine, as well as their problems. These organizations mainly represented public service, with most being youth centres and organizations associated with youth work. It made sense because the focus of our job shadowing program was youth work. However, we also visited organizations working in totally different areas, such as theatre, rock school, farmers’ union and municipal services.

During our stay, we shared our working space with international volunteers. While some of them were newcomers just like us, others had already managed to integrate locally. Those were the people who helped us with our integration. It was the second time that we managed to create an inclusive and welcoming environment within the group, and I believe it was one of the most significant experiences of this job shadowing program.

I should mention that discovering Latvian people and culture was another great experience. Georgia and Latvia have quite a lot of things in common. Although there are some old problems we chose to deal with differently, we are still trying to overcome the same Soviet background. It was interesting to find out different approaches to well-known problems. I cannot mention enough that Latvians are very hospitable and warm-hearted people. The organizations we visited gave us gifts, invited us for coffee and sweets, and the hosts were extremely welcoming and friendly all the time.

To conclude, participating in the CAT project was one of the most reasonable and apt decisions that I have made for myself. Especially, the job shadowing program was a significant experience for gaining new knowledge and advancing myself as an individual. It gave me a chance to learn a lot of career-related things and to meet warm-hearted and friendly people.

Meko Natroshvili
CAT Alumni and Fellow