There are some memories that you will never forget and some things that happen in your life that have such a big impact, it changes you and never feel the same way again. This is what happened to me, after organising my first Project Period in Georgia.
The idea behind it was to firstly show my peers and friends that Georgia in not just a state in the USA and that it is an amazing country with a rich history, and secondly, I wanted to explain what Paint the World actually is, how we work and who my Georgian friends, that started this movement with me four years ago, are. I was a bit apprehensive to mix the two; my friends in Georgia and my friends from college. I would never had imagined that after this project, not only they would love each other, but that they would call Georgia their ‘second home’.
Aziza, my friend form Malaysia, who launched the first branch of Paint the World in her country, and I selected 13 students from Atlantic College to have the chance to participate in the Georgian Project Period. I remember how hard it was, because we had to pick from 30 students who wanted to join us Paint the World.
During the winter break meetings took place with sponsors of the project, also with Members of Parliament from Georgia, the media and, of course, with Georgian Painters of the World.
On 28 February, we set off on our journey!
I will never forget the airport scene; we came out with our flags and each student had to shout out their name and country, just like we did when we arrived at the college. My Georgian friends were there waiting for us with balloons and badges, and also Imedi TV reporters who filmed the whole thing. UWC Adriatic students, who also participated in our project, were at the airport and were very interesting and polite. All visitors had link families and stayed in my friends’ houses. I guess it is much more exciting rather than to just stay in a hotel. The fact that Georgians hosted visitors made this Project Period very special. Everyone got on with each other, talked a lot, exchanged cultures, knowledge and their views, which is amazing!
On the first day, right after arriving at the airport, we went to a Georgian restaurant. All the guests loved the Georgian food, which is not surprising because our food is definitely delicious! We sang and danced and after a while started teaching our visitors Georgian dances, so we all had a lot of fun. I will not forget the way one student from Adriatic, Andrej, learned our tradition of saying toasts during the meal, and how good he was at it!
Paint the World was a huge part of the trip. We held charity events in a Cancer Hospital, local orphanages and also visited indigent families all around the country.
What was amazing is that everyone communicated even though not everyone spoke the Georgian language. We played, danced and sang a lot, and there were no barriers.
One of the important outcomes was seeing how Paint the World events work. After seeing this, my friends from Atlantic College were enthusiastic about starting the same initiative in their own counties.
We held lots of interviews for local TV channels with the promotional film about Paint the World being the most important.
This project would not be possible without the support of the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Garibashvili, the Vice Speaker of my country, Gubaz Sanikidze, the Minister of Sports and Youth, Levan Kipiani and the Head of the Programmes Department in the Ministry of Diaspora Issues, Temur Tartarashvili.Huge. I would like to give thanks to them all.
On the last day of the project we held a conference, where all our sponsors and supporters came to hear about the success of the project. Students made speeches and expressed their feelings and emotions. Indigo from the UK said a very interesting thing during the conference. It was: ‘we are young and we believe that we can change the world. People lose that idealism with age, so let’s try to keep it and stay just like this’.
This is what I want to try to do with my life. Because right now, I feel everything is possible.
The saddest part was leaving. We just could not say bye to each other, we all had the feeling that this project was more than a month, not a just week. My friends both from Georgia and from the college felt like they were a family. Strong lifelong friendships were formed and I was happy because finally my friends from these two different worlds were together. We now have lots and lots of years together, and as far as I can see, soon we will have a Project Period reunion in Georgia – I can`t wait!
P.S. ‘Saqartvelos Gaumarjos’ (Long live Georgia)
Lika Torikashvili, class of 2016 from Georgia
Lika and the Paint the World group have now also spread the project to Oman - read the news story here.