If you think that the Les Anciens Summer University will be just about sightseeing, you are wrong. In Georgia the participants will not only uuse their eyes and ears, but also their hands – when they will pick grapes. “Georgia is the cradle of wine”, confirm Mariam Mskhalaia and Ani Zakareishvili from AEGEE-Tbilisi. Mariam, project manager of the antenna, will be the coordinator of the event. Ani, vice-president of AEGEE-Tbilisi, will be incoming responsible. They told the Golden Times more about the exciting days in Georgia.

Mari & Ani: The two main organisers of the Georgia part of the Les Anciens Summer university

Golden Times: Ani & Mari, in October a lot of AEGEE oldies are coming to Tbilisi. How do you and your team members feel about that?
Ani & Mari: Every event has its own charm, but this one is truly special for AEGEE-Tbilisi. Hosting “oldies” – the experienced AEGEEans who devoted years to our organisation, is a big responsibility and at the same time an honor for us. Our team for this project will consist out of AEGEE-Tbilisi’s board members and a couple of other enthusiastic members. We hope to meet your expectations and create some magical memories!

Golden Times: Your antenna is very active. What kind of events are you organising this year?
Ani & Mari: AEGEE-Tbilisi is 8 years old only, but we try to be as active at both – local and European level – as possible. We have lots of experience and new members who are highly motivated and eager to contribute to the success of our local and AEGEE in general. The currently held TSU GandaGana was a perfect example for our dedication. This year we have a few projects planned including a Network meeting, the AEGEE introduction project for freshmen “Green Tomato”, grape picking, our local Agora and maybe a Winter University.

Golden Times: Impressive! How was AEGEE-Tbilisi founded? 
Ani & Mari: It all began in 2003 when AEGEE-Europe was conducting a study visit in Caucasian countries: Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia. A year later, in 2004, AEGEE-Tbilisi – the first local in Caucasus – was founded. The same year AEGEE-Tbilisi hosted some international events, like “Find Europe” and “Exploring Borders”.

Golden Times: And now some oldies of the 2003 study visit are coming back. Most people of our oldies SU arrive to and depart from Tbilisi – at night. What should our participants do when they arrive at 3 am?
Ani & Mari: We can arrange for them cheap hostel.

Golden Times: How can the people who arrive to Tbilisi go to Yerevan on 6th of October? 
Ani & Mari: There are three options to get to Yerevan – train, mini-bus and a taxi.  The train takes about 8 hours and costs about 35 Gel. 2 Gel are about 1 Euro. The minibus takes up to 5 or 6 hours and costs 30 Gel. Taxi might be the best option since it takes about 5 hours and costs approximately 100 Dollar. So sharing a taxi is a good idea. We can also arrange a minibus for the group.

Golden Times: The main focus of your part of the event is wine. Why did you choose this topic? Is Georgia really the cradle of wine?
Ani & Mari: Yes, Georgia is the cradle of wine! Archeological studies affirmed that the source of world’s first cultivated grapevines and wine production was South Georgia, where the culture of wine begins over 8000 years ago. Wine has always played a special role in our history and religion and it still is an important part of our culture. In addition, autumn is vintage period so we decided to share it with our participants.

Golden Times: What kind of wine factory will we visit?
Ani & Mari: We will visit a Georgian wine factory – see all the processes up-close, taste some wine and enjoy the day.

Golden Times: We will also help picking grapes. I really look forward to that.
Ani & Mari: It’s true – we will help the locals pick up the grapes, but of course the main purpose of this activity is to see what processes the grapes have to undergo before they turns into the delicious wine we all love. No, we will not to work too hard.

Golden Times: Will we work very hard?
Ani & Mari (smile): No, we will not to work too hard.

Golden Times: Do you personally pick grapes too every year?
Ani & Mari: We as AEGEE-Tbilisi are still in the process of establishing the tradition of picking grapes every year. We did it last year, we are doing it this year and hopefully we will do it in the future as well! It is a lot of fun, not to speak of the good deeds.

Golden Times: What is this Churchkhela that we will make according to the programme? 
Ani & Mari: Churchkhela is a traditional Georgian sweets – nuts dipped in grape juice. It is very delicious – you will see it soon yourself!

Golden Times: Which other parts of the programme in Georgia should we look forward to?
Ani & Mari: Georgian Supra is something you definitely should look forward to. It is our way of celebrating life at the table in the company of our beloved ones.

The oldies will also visit the old town Mtkheta.

Golden Times: Where will be our accommodation in Tbilisi?
Ani & Mari: It is not decided yet, but it will be a hostel or a guesthouse.

Golden Times: I heard there will be elections at that time. Should we behave more careful because of this?
Ani & Mari: We are a democratic country and elections also will be held according to international standards of elections with many foreign observers.  No one is protected from anything; we can’t give you 100 per cent of guarantee of anything. But we – as the citizens of Georgia – feel safe.

Golden Times: How will we spend the evenings? Culture, parties, open-air pubs…?
Ani & Mari: We will go to pubs or clubs.

Golden Times: Anything you’d like to add?
Ani & Mari (smile): We are looking forward to having you “oldies” here with us!