Students in Georgia have been working together to find creative ways to raise awareness about the discrimination faced by religious and ethnic minorities and foreigners residing in Georgia. Supported by the EWMI-PROLoG grant, “Promoting Diversity, Enhancing Dialogue and Empowering Minorities and Women,” the Tolerance and Diversity Institute (TDI) invited students from each region to enter a competition and craft innovative ways to spread a message of tolerance. The student participants prepared blogs, wrote articles, created photo stories, and produced videos that focused on the challenges related to tolerance and cultural diversity in their community.
On March 1, 2019, TDI held an award ceremony for the youth contest winners. Given the overwhelming response and the quality of entries, several winners were selected:
- Batumi school #16, two students prepared photo story about Roma community in their city and students who study at their school. Link: Photo Story
- First Public School of Tbilisi, a student of 11th grade prepared a blog on foreigners residing in Georgia. He described some of the problems and obstacles that foreign citizens face in Georgia.
- Gori Public School #12, a student prepared a blog The Colorful City in which she described ethnic and religious diversity of her hometown Gori. Link: The Colorful City Blog
- Tbilisi State University, a student prepared a photo story about Krishna community living in Georgia. Link: TSU Photo Story
- American International High School-College Progress, a 10th grade student prepared a blog about the tradition of tolerance and described her experience as a foreign student living and studying in Georgia. Link: American International High School Blog
- Tbilisi State University, a student prepared a video about Muslim girls from Chela.
The students of Batumi Public School #7 also received an honorable mention for their video, “Sun Shines for Everybody.”
Brian LeDuc, EWMI-PROLoG Deputy Chief of Party, and Eka Chitanava, TDI director, delivered opening speeches at the ceremony. The students were very happy to be recognized for their hard work. Following the awards, TDI also presented and moderated an active and inclusive discussion of three documentary videos (Ala, Liaman and Tarash), produced by TDI under the same EWMI-PROLoG grant. The documentaries feature individual stories about the challenges ethnic, religious and racial minorities encounter in their everyday lives and discriminatory treatment they receive. Ala, a member of the Yazidi community in Georgia, shares her thoughts about obstacles and challenges that ethnic minorities face in Georgian society and the long history and rich culture of her community; Liaman, a member of the Azerbaijani community in Georgia, speaks about her experience as a representative of an ethnic minority group, and discusses problems related to the integration of minorities into Georgian society, and Tharaka, (called Tarashi by Georgians) who has graduated from Tbilisi State Medical University, shares his impressions about Georgian culture, hospitality, also the problems encountered by foreigners due to state policies and the xenophobic attitudes of some Georgians. Both Ala and Liaman participated in the subsequent discussion, and addressed many interesting questions and observations from the audience.
The documentaries screened can be found at the following links:
ლიამანი | Liaman
ალა | Ala
თარაში | Tarashi
EWMI's Promoting Rule of Law in Georgia (PROLOG) program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).