Since its inception in 2012 and with two cohorts (2012-2014, 2014-2019) of participants that passed through it, the Roots Peace Work Institute (PWI) sought to enroll young leaders of different backgrounds from across Europe, young people who were and are a voice and not an echo – eager to learn, to try, to grow… Like raw diamonds to shine after the grind.
And we believe that most of these 48 Alumni managed to develop both personally and professionally as they journeyed through PWI.
Today we bring you the story of Irina, a young charming activist from Georgia.
Irina is a student at Caucasus University in Georgia, she studies humanitarian and social sciences, sociology in particular. As an amateur photographer and visual storyteller, she decided to link her profession – sociologist to her passion and to work on developing a visual sociological approach.
“Right now I am working on a project dedicated to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. My aim is to collect and present the hidden history of buildings in the old part of the city,” says Irina.
The very first contact with Roots for her was at the age of 16 as the participant of Roots Program Festival at YMCA Georgia Camp Orange in 2015. Two years later, she joined Peace Work Institute.
Before Roots, she had experience in volunteering for day centres for people with disabilities, but Roots was her first real experience with peace work.
“I can say – Roots opened up my eyes and showed me the real world. I can hardly remember myself before the project. To become a member of this huge family so young, it had a big impact on me – my professional or private attitudes, approaches and behaviours were shaped because of Roots. I became stronger in terms of knowledge, tools and most importantly – relationships and connections. It didn’t just teach me the value of peace around me and how to approach it, but also helped me to find peace in myself,” mentioned Irina.
When we asked Irina about her most special and unforgettable moment during Roots experience, she said:
“This is the kind of question that I feel thankful to be asked as various memories started shuffling in my head and put a smile on my face. I would recall the moment from the “Roof for Roots” project organized by YMCA Georgia, during which I witnessed Georgian, Armenian, and Azerbaijani teenagers dancing and singing together. It made me proud and happy as I saw the result of work done by me and my colleagues.”
As a person from a country with a complicated history, Irina would recommend the course without hesitation. She says that sometimes we don’t realise how much the environment around us harms us physically and mentally. And Roots is a place to identify the problems, start working on them and heal yourself and the society around you.
Irina spent an unforgettable time with Roots. When asked to describe the project in three words, this is what she had to say: “quality over quantity”.
Since 2007 and ever growing, from the South to the North, from the East to the West of Europe – the Roots has always been there for those striving to make this world a better and safer place, a peaceful home for all. We go where the need is, responding quickly to the emerging issues with the legacy and mandate, capacity and adaptability gained for all these years.
By donating to the Roots, you invest in youth opinion leaders from all corners of Europe – varied by age, ethnicity, religion, race or wealth, but united with one strong conviction – Peace is the only way!