Nino Metreveli joined TLG back in May 2012. She started out as the Special Projects Assistant, but recently moved up to take on responsibility for the whole department as the Special Projects Coordinator. With a BA in Diplomacy and International Relations and an MA in Contemporary Modern History of America, Nino has a varied and outward-focused background.
What were you doing prior to working for TLG?
Well, I briefly worked for one company—it was a private company called Solar Energy—and they were trying to implement hydro-power projects. They were about to construct a hydro-power plant here, but it didn’t work out. I worked there for two years and I had a really good experience there but the situation was really tough there. Pretty ghastly.
Ghastly? Wow. You said the hydroplant didn’t work out?
Yes because of some problems. High fees or something like that. I was only involved in arranging some meetings and booking tickets for foreign investors. Nothing serious.
Overall, how would you say Energy Conservation or the Green Movement is perceived in Georgia?
Oh well, I guess it is received well, but I’m not actually really an expert on those sorts of things.
How do you feel about moving from the Assistant to the Coordinator of your department?
I think it’s a huge responsibility because I’ve only been working here for 5 months and that’s not very long; I’m still “new” here. To do everything on my own and be the only member of your department—it’s a little bit difficult. But I’m trying to adjust to it and solve these issues step-by-step.
Speaking of your department, what does “Special Projects” even mean?
Well, the Special Projects Department implements some unique projects which are absolutely different from the general procedures of TLG. Our main project is working with local volunteers, which in many ways is absolutely the same as working with TLG volunteers. We recruit local volunteers who can speak English fluently. It’s not necessary to be a teacher or to have a teaching degree. We send them to regions where there aren’t any English teachers. And these local volunteers have a lot of incentives to get involved with TLG—with T4G. We call it T4G: Teach for Georgia. For one year after they complete their contract, they get funding for their Master’s degree. I think it’s a great deal for them!
You mentioned unique projects that don’t fit in other departments. Can you give some examples of these?
Yes, well there are some other kind of projects like our summer school project: The Buckswood Project. This took place over the summer. Also, we work with the non-public school TLG volunteers: volunteers who teach police or at dance companies or other places besides Georgian public schools. We monitor them, receive monthly reports from them, and stuff like that.
Okay. Now going back to TLG for Local Volunteers, if you didn’t already have a job, would you apply to be a T4G volunteer?
Oh, I think not, for just one reason: Because I already got my master’s degree! (Laughs) But I think it would be really interesting for me to get involved in the community like in the very mountainous region of Georgia and for one year it would be a really fascinating experience. I will think about that.
How have T4G volunteers been received in their communities?
I think they have been received quite well. You know I’ve heard a lot of opinions regarding TLG and T4G, and most of them are really positive. People who feel some kind of negativity about it don’t really know what actually is happening here and they are not aware about the details of the program and that’s why they’re thinking about T4G in a bad way. So I think that, in general, people think that this is the best way for cultural exchange and for the future of Georgian children. This is true not only for local volunteers, but for TLG as well.
Do you think that local volunteers and TLG volunteers will ever have an opportunity to work together?
I hope so, in the future. But we actually have one volunteer—a local volunteer who works with a current TLG volunteer in Shatili. So, there’s one exception. But I hope in the future this tendency will continue.
If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be, and why?
Wow, what an interesting question! (Laughs) Um, I think I would be, um, a strawberry? Maybe because this is my favorite fruit and I love spring and this is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about spring.
What is your fondest TLG-related memory?
I guess the first excursion with T4G and TLG volunteers together. We went to see Gremi and Nekresi Cathedral in Kakheti and it was really exciting. It was one of my first experiences. I was kinda new here and to get to know these people better was really exciting. And my second memory: I recall I had to accompany three volunteers to shoot a clip or something like that and we went to a museum somewhere up in Tbilisi and they were shooting the clip and it was really exciting to be involved in this kind of stuff.
You mentioned you have a master’s in Contemporary Modern History of America. How has that helped prepare you for working in TLG and what do you think is the most interesting part in that topic?
Well, generally I love history, especially US history, and it helped me just, to be honest, with my English. My English wasn’t really good at that time, and to improve my English, and to graduate (laughs), and to obtain a lot of information in order to write a thesis I had to improve my English. So that’s why I think it’s my best thing which I obtained from my studies.
What was your thesis about?
My thesis was called “The Nuremberg Trials: Conspiracy and Aggression against Humanity.” It was really tough and it was a really long year for me and I was exhausted but it was so interesting. It was received well, too!
How has TLG impacted you personally and/or professionally?
It has had a massive impact on me. You know I remember myself two years ago and I wasn’t that confident and I didn’t have that much experience and I’ve learned so many things from you guys here and I appreciate every single moment which I have spent here with you, with TLG.
Do you have time for one more very fast question?
What is your favorite style of Khatchapuri?
Ohh, I love khatchapuri in general. But my favorite one is Megrelian.
Thank you very much!