You Have Made a Difference

Posted on June 15, 2012 by


Sometimes when you get caught up in the thick of things it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.  Day-to-day tasks take up all your time and focus.  Questions like, “What should I wear?” “Is it seriously already 90 degrees?” “Can I meet my deadline?” and “How many of my students have actually done their homework today?” take the place of larger concerns like, “How far have my students come since my arrival?” “How has life in Georgia affected me?” and “What will it feel like to go home?”  With yesterday being the last day of school and the first wave of Volunteers departing for the summer, it seems like the perfect time for a bit of reflection and deep thinking.

Last Friday, over 200 Volunteers arrived in Tbilisi to receive their Certificates of Completion in a graduation-type ceremony hosted by TLG.  As more and more Volunteers shuffled in to a pre-ceremony breakfast, the excited chatter of recognitions, reacquaintances and revelry filled the lobby of the Sheraton Metekhi Palace.

Following opening speeches by Prime Minister Nika Gilauri, Minister of Education and Science of Georgia Dimitri Shashkini, and TLG Program Manager Maia Siprashvili-Lee, the ceremony continued with a recognition of four of the longest-tenured TLG Volunteers still active in the program: Michael Decker, Tom Tomas, Zuzana Orsagova, and Doug Clark.

Several Volunteers chatting and enjoying some breakfast before the beginning of the ceremony!

The Minister made his remarks after the Prime Minister, thanking the Volunteers for their work.

Though they were initially awarded all-expenses paid trips to the Kutaisi Training Center, Michael, Tom, Zuzana, and Doug were ultimately presented with tokens of gratitude by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Education and Science!

Following the longevity awards, the ceremony began in earnest.  Volunteers were named by region and they filed up across the stage to meet and receive their Certificates of Completion from the TLG Program Management.  After each region had received their certificates, one volunteer from that region gave a few remarks about their experiences with students, host families, schools, community, or another meaningful topic!

As Volunteers filed across the stage, they received certificates from Deputy Program Managers Deborah Cruz and Giga Ishkhneli.

Marisa Gomez from Kakheti delivered a brief speech about Community Integration and how it impacted her experience in Georgia

Following the Ceremony, there was a slideshow of Volunteer photos and a lunchtime reception in the lobby.

Volunteers enjoying the post-ceremony reception!

Overall, the ceremony was our way of saying a big Thank You to everyone who has made a difference during their time in Georgia.  Though you may be leaving us, you will never be forgotten and the differences you have made on your students, your families, your schools, and your communities will echo throughout the years as your students grow up, as English becomes more widespread and as TLG continues!

Thank you for Making a Difference!