This is the 6th installment in a series of Q&As with past TCT volunteers. The aim of this series is twofold: to provide information about what it is like to volunteer with us, and to preserve our antics for posterity.
From: Rome, Italy
Currently: writing her final thesis and working in the field of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC)’s technologies for people with disabilities.
Enjoys: driving her scooter around the city, especially during summer nights.
Project volunteered for: Dilijan Armenia trailbuilding camp 2017
TCT: This is a grassroots project with a marketing budget of precisely zero. Given that, how did you first hear about the Transcaucasian Trail?
Bianca: It was found by a friend of mine who was browsing the Internet with the idea of walking each summer from Greece towards the East following the Silk Road, one milestone at a time. He spoke to me about the project, and I sent in the application right away.
TCT: Had you ever volunteered or worked on anything similar to this before?
Bianca: No, never.
TCT: It’s quite a commitment to travel to a brand new part of the world to contribute your time and energy to something completely new! What motivated you to join the project as a volunteer?
Bianca: Hiking has been an important part of my life since I was a child, and it gave me back both energy and direction during some moments of disorientation. I decided to participate for many reasons. I was feeling motivated at the idea of spending some time surrounded by nature while contributing in building something that supports walking culture. I was really intrigued by Armenia and curious to discover how the construction process works.
TCT: What were the best and worst aspects of being part of the volunteer trail building crew in Dilijan?
Bianca: The best part was seeing the path’s growth under our feet day after day and sharing this experience with different people bonded by similar passions, in a context that promotes a sincere and deep way to relate to each other. There were no worst aspects, I sincerely enjoyed every part of this journey.
TCT: Trail work is a largely thankless task, which, if done properly, will never be noticed by the people who benefit from it. Where, if anywhere, did your sense of reward come from?
Bianca: On the last Friday afternoon, our whole group of volunteers completed the final day of work by drinking a beer at Parz Lich, a small mountain lake provided with camping structures, where we had marked the last meters of the trail. After that, a few of us spent some hours walking back to the very start of the path we had been working on during the previous two weeks, remembering each and every landmark: where we had been sweating on rocky soil, where we had been chatting with someone for the first time. The possibility to enjoy the walk on that brand new trail I had helped to build filled up my heart.
TCT: The biggest trail building operation ever launched in Armenia was accomplished entirely by the labour of volunteers such as yourself. How does that make you feel?
Bianca: I am glad I had the opportunity to give my contribution to a project that can help to preserve and add value to Armenian natural heritage, and, in the long term, connect the Caucasus region through a walking path.
TCT: We’re assuming that if you’re willing to be interviewed, you mostly enjoyed your time with us! Who would you recommend our volunteer programme to?
Bianca: To anyone eager to spend some time in a natural environment while enjoying a very simple lifestyle within a group dimension, willing to physically challenge themselves, and above all have fun!