In the first of our Regional Representative interviews, I had a chance to talk with Marika Khasia, the RR from Samegrelo. With her background in Diplomacy and International Relations and a Master’s in Russian Studies from Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Marika joined TLG in April 2012, moving to Zugdidi to become the RR there.
So, Marika, what were you doing before working for TLG?
I used to work with NGOs in Serbia. Well, that was my last job. Before that, I finished my bachelor’s in Diplomacy and International Relations and my Master’s in Russian Studies. After graduation I worked at the Ministry of Corrections and Legal Assistance, then I participated in several educational projects. But just before working for TLG, I was working at an NGO in Serbia.
How did you get involved with TLG?
I heard there was a vacancy in Samegrelo. Actually, for ten years I have lived in Tbilisi, but then I got married in Samegrelo—
Thank you! And I heard about this position and I applied for it.
And here you are!
What are your responsibilities at TLG?
I am responsible, first of all, for finding family accommodations for the volunteers and I am responsible for watching over them during their volunteering period in Samegrelo. I mean, I help them with everything they need in everyday life they need, like translation, for example.
Mhmm, Okay. What’s your favorite aspect of the program?
My favorite aspect (pause). The first day that the volunteers arrive here. First I call the volunteers and introduce myself, “I am the regional representative and how do you like your host family? How are the living conditions?” I am happy for them because they tell me, “Oh! It’s nice! They are wonderful!” all the time. I’m trying to do my best, especially when I am checking the host families.
Earlier you mentioned that you lived and worked in Serbia. Can you tell me a little about that experience? About living abroad?
Yeah, so, I was a volunteer, you know?
Oh, no kidding!
Yeah, volunteering is really important, you know? Why do we volunteer? There are several different motivations for why people volunteer. Motivations can be divided into two main categories, I think: professional and emotional. Professionally, you gain new skills and new experiences, and emotionally you make new contacts, new friends, and you get to travel! This is really important. And you know, the experiences you get from volunteering helps you not only achieve more, maybe in your career field, but you can also easily absorb new interpersonal skills in public relations and use them in the course of your work field.
Excellent and you enjoyed it?
Yeah! I love traveling!
Did you go anywhere else, besides Serbia?
Yeah, yeah! I went to Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria (laughs)
Wow! All over the place!
If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be and why?
A fruit? Okay (pause) maybe an orange.
Okay (pause) an orange is something in the middle, you know?
It can be very sweet and at the same time it can be, you know, when you have some (pause)
Yeah! Yeah. But the main part is Healthy.
How has TLG impacted you personally and/or professionally?
Professionally, (pause) I can say it has had a big effect. You know, I am doing something that I have never done before. It’s something different. Other jobs, for instance, if you work in a bank—it’s very common, very ordinary. This is very different. It’s far from ordinary!
What is the best thing for a volunteer about being placed in Samegrelo?
You know, I don’t want to distinguish Samegrelo from the other regions (laughs). Generally people are very friendly and we have a big hospitality, very huge! But I don’t want to distinguish Samegrelo, you know? I want to be fair! (laughs)
What is your favorite style of khatchapuri?
I like all of them! I love it!