I have been a member of YMCA Georgia since I was ten. My experience, in the beginning, was just camps, festivals and then volunteering. Once I found out about the second generation of Peace Work Institute and the chance of being its participant, the first thing I did was approaching one person that I knew from the first Peace Work Institute generation and asked about her experience. She told me that everything I had seen at the YMCA so far was relatively fun and entertaining compared to what happened in the Peace Work Institute seminars. She said it was a place where the preparation of magic starts. It made me a little bit scared, yet motivated, because I realized it could give me skills that would help me in real life. It knew it would teach me how to plan and then implement something because I had seen those people doing it very well. When I got involved in Peace Work Institute, my expectations were met.
Additionally, I experienced a lot of amazing things I had no idea about before. Since the very first seminar in Tbilisi, I got the feeling that I was in the hands of professionals. The programme seemed hard, but very interesting. Every day, on each and every seminar Vardan, Marius and Rezi would teach us about different methodologies and everything was new and exciting, as I could see how powerful all this could be. I thought I could trust these people and just follow them because they had already done very important and powerful projects in the past. Having an opportunity to learn from them was really exciting for me.
During the journey with the YMCA and Peace Work Institute, I got a lot of useful skills and knowledge that influenced my life a lot. Every seminar was full of useful information and tools that inspired me greatly. First of all, I would highlight the Theory of Change methodology, which helped us to build new ideas and our tandem projects were a result of it. Whenever I have to plan something, I start thinking about one simple idea and then develop it with people that share it. Planning of anything would make no sense anymore unless it was not planed along the lines of Do No Harm.
This approach was completely new to me and it really changed my ways of working. Equally important turned out to be the seminar about critical thinking, because it contributed to the development of a helpful skill, not only in my professional but also my everyday citizen’s life.
Besides these approaches, which had a huge impact on me, there were also the games. I still use the ‘Needs and fears’ game while working with any age group because it has helped me tremendously to start thinking from different perspectives and imagining myself in someone else’s shoes. In short, Peace Work Institute turned out to be the experience of a lifetime. I think I was given the chance to join the PWI in a perfect moment: I was eighteen and thinking about my major at my studies. It had a huge impact on my decision-making process and the fact that now I study humanities and social sciences instead of politics and governance is a result of it. I have been a member of YMCA Georgia since I was ten. My experience in the beginning was just camps, festivals and then volunteering.
Once I found out about the second generation of Peace Work Institute and the chance of being its participant, the first thing I did was approaching one person that I knew from the first PWI generation and asked about her experience. She told me that everything I had seen at the YMCA so far was relatively fun and entertaining compared to what 133 Spending time with the organizers’ team and the participants helped me to set an example of how to work with issues I am concerned about and it made me more goal-oriented. Still, the biggest difference I see now is the following: before PWI I remember myself being interested in every field of art and science. I used to try everything and wanted to have the result as soon as possible.
Peace Work Institute taught me to be patient while working on important issues because big changes demand time. And as ‘everything is a failure in the middle’, so I always try to keep doing whatever I’m doing until I see the result I aimed for. This experience made me realize that everything I do has to be done well. There is something very important that Marius, my first mentor, used to tell us and now I keep telling myself every day: ‘Quality over quantity!’ I am sure that everything I have learned and experienced in PWI will help me a lot to reach my goals.
My plans are mostly connected to e-activism and campaigning and I work with people from different backgrounds. In that regard, the knowledge I have gotten from P.E.A.C.E. seminars is simply a treasure that I am going to use as much as possible. And whatever I will be doing in the future, the TOC and DNH will always be my metrics to plan and evaluate my work.
Irina Berdzenishvili, Georgia – Roots Peace Work Institute 2018 Alumna
More testimonials available in our Peacework Guidebook.