| 6 Feb. 2009
Talks on Tolerance
Citizens of Georgia, who live in the multinational country, needed to know about each other’s religion and culture for promoting the strengthening process of the mutual respect between ethnics.
This was a goal of the project ‘Talks on Tolerance’, initiated and implemented by the NGO - Center for Democracy and Civic Integration, with the support of the Ethnic Minority Council under the Public Defender of Georgia within the UNAG National Integration and Tolerance in Georgia program funded by the USAID.
Schoolchildren from 10th and 11th grades (totally 30 children) of various nationalities and religions participated in the project. In the frame of the project were arranged trips to religious temples every week during 2 months, meetings with clerics who talk to the project participants about different religious. The children visited the Christian Orthodox Church – Sioni, Armenian Holy Apostolic Church – Surp Gevork, a mosque, a synagogue, Evangelic-Lutheran Church of Reconciliation and a catholic church. They met as well the representatives of Church of the Descent of the Holy Spirit (Pentecostals), bishop of the Baptist Church, the religion servant of Kurds and followers of Hinduism / Krishna’s life.
The project envisaged also many interesting meetings with famous public figures such as a poet - Rati Amaghlobeli, a photographer - Yuri Mechitov, a sociologist - Emzar Jgerenaia, an urbanist - Lado Vardosanidze, and a singer and an actor - Vakhtang (Buba) Kikabidze.
Rati Amaghlobeli and Yuri Mechitov discussed the ethnic and religious tolerance issues and created a friendly environment during the meeting. Many questions were asked, there were a humor and serious discussions as well as the direct and very interesting conversations.
Emzar Jgerenaia, the most distinguished and interesting lecturer, delivered a lecture-seminar on the tolerance problems in the society. The meeting was also attended by Mr. Sozar Subari, the Public Defender of Georgia and the deputy - Sopiko Khorguani. The participants as well as the quests actively took part in the discussions. At the end of the meeting, The Public Defender expressed the support to the project participants.
The urbanist Lado Vardosanidze told in details about significance of space and time factors for Tbilisi development, peculiarities of the Georgian Architecture and the importance of Tbilisi development. The expert talked to the participants about history of various streets, avenues and districts and analyzed particularities of Old Tbilisi. Mr. Vardosanidze underlined importance of the ethnic minority role and peaceful living in the urban renewal process. During the meeting were shown photo materials that made the lecture more sophisticated.
Meeting with a famous Georgian singer and actor Buba Kikabidze was especially amusing for the project participants. Despite illness, Buba Kikabidze could find time and meet the children. He remembered many interesting stories in humorous way and the unique manner of expression. The legendary actor talked about the unknown moments from the movie Mimino and relationships with Frunzik Mkrtchyan. At the end of the meeting, he distributed posters with the autograph and took photos.
Within the framework of the project, the participants were given a task to write an essay on the tolerance - what this word meant for them and how they perceived the meaning. It should be pointed out that each paper was attractive in its way. Citation from the participant’s paper: “tolerance is a culture that needs to be inculcated in the childhood and then the misunderstanding, the humiliation, the disgust, the hostility on earth will be avoided and the world created by the God will be full of kindness. In my understanding, tolerance is making its first steps like a baby. I hope it will grow up like all child and the tolerance will no longer be the problem of today”.
One more piece “may be you do not love everybody, but it is necessary to respect all. The respect is enough to arouse a tolerance inside, and as soon you get to this state, you will understand that a load has been taken off. You will realize that life is much more beautiful this way, and a despot has died inside you, that did not give you the right to perceive a human as a human. My advice would be “do not allow anyone to manipulate you and do not try to manipulate others, live your own life, respect your neighbor and you will be respected too, if not by them by the God for sure, and it is the most important thing in the life. Try to be tolerant and encourage others. Make the life beautiful for people in order to get happiness back. Our obligation is to love and take care of each other”.
The project participants were distributed the brochures on a historical-ethnographic issues of ethnical minorities living in Georgia. The posters, specially designed for this project, were exhibited in the project involved five schools.
The one of the most significant cornerstones of the project is a new web.site - www.tol.ge, which is aimed at long-term strengthening the project efficiency. The site hosts the works of students. The control panel of the web.site will be given to the children at the next stage and they will update it according to their considerations. The existence of the forum on the site is especially important, because it is open for all interested parties.
All participants were awarded by certificates and the best essay authors were presented the books at the final conference of the project.
I would like to conclude the article by the words of the participant “this project could manage that today I have Kurd, Russian and Armenian friends. Besides that the project assisted me to realize that there are followers of the different religious in Georgia and it is our duty to respect their choice”.