Contributor - Victor Troiano
For me personally it is fantastic to be part of the HRI team this year. Unlike the rest of the camp leaders, I have actually already been living here in Shvanidzor for about a year and a half. I am here as a volunteer with the Peace Corps, working with the local English teacher in the village school. Last summer I happened to meet the HRI crew while they were here, but I was busy away from the village during most of their camp. So this year I was very excited to officially join the team and help to run the camp.
Getting to know this year’s group over these past few days has been a blast. It’s great to have other Americans to hang out with. Or as the locals might say, my own guests to host and show off the beauty of the village to. Already we have explored the village sights with the students and spent a rousing evening visiting my host-family here, complete with homemade wine.
In the camp, I am helping with the Environmental lessons. Today with the oldest students we ended up having a discussion about garbage disposal in the village. The students agreed that litter is a problem and that the ways it is typically disposed of – burning or dumping in the river – are not good solutions. They began to brainstorm the possibility of installing trash bins and having a truck come from town to remove the trash once a week. Projects like these are ones that I’ve wanted to focus some of my efforts on, but I never found an opportunity within my Peace Corps role in the school and village. So to see the students engaging in that conversation and coming up with their own solutions was very gratifying.
Thanks to the structure of HRI’s camps and the amazing bonds the whole team makes with the kids here, I have a wonderful opportunity to see the students engaging with topics such as these and others. This, for me, is the true value of HRI and the reason why I am so excited to be participating this year, and why I hope that the project continues for the years to come.