Alumni Spotlight: Georgia

Pictured: Left: Marta Berdzenadze, Right: Dea Margvelashvili in front of American flag
Marta Berdzenadze (left) and Dea Margvelashvili (right)

This month, World Learning is happy to introduce two fall 2022 alums from the Republic of Georgia: Marta Berdzenadze, who studied at the University of Montevallo in Alabama, and Dea Margvelashvili, who studied at the University of the Ozarks in Arkansas. These two exceptional individuals successfully completed the Global UGRAD Program and now aim to leave a lasting impact on their home communities. Below they share how their UGRAD experience shaped them and what they are doing to give back to young girls in Georgia.

Marta Berdzenadze exploring the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

Marta: “My Global UGRAD experience filled my life with excitement, new challenges, and countless adventures. During my time in the United States and on campus, I forged enduring friendships and deepened my self-awareness by embracing a lifestyle far different from what I was accustomed to in my home country. My experience in the U.S. opened my eyes to the significance of unity, faith, and the unwavering commitment required for future success. It illuminated the fact that these values are not only admirable but also yield substantial rewards in the long run.”

Dea Margvelashvili sitting in the grass at her US host institution- University of the Ozarks
Dea Margvelashvili at the University of the Ozarks

Dea: “As a young adventurer, I’ve explored stunning mountains, vibrant seas, and bustling cities around the world. Yet, it was my Global UGRAD journey that truly connected me to our planet. Half a world away in Clarksville, Arkansas, I found my home. My time in the United States was filled with joyful moments, adventures in nature, personal growth, and lifelong friendships, all of which contributed to my utmost happiness as a Global UGRAD student. One academic semester in the U.S. shaped me into a more goal-oriented, independent, and community-driven young woman. Growing up in a very small town, I would have hardly believed in the possibility of crossing an ocean to pursue academic studies in the universal dreamland of the U.S. Through tireless work, continuous support from my family, friends, and mentors, and dedication to make my life a bit extraordinary, a dream did come true.”

Marta & Dea standing together at their workshop "Success behind the Scenes"
Marta & Dea leading their workshop, “Success Behind the Scenes”

Since completing their Global UGRAD Program and returning home to Georgia, Dea and Marta put their experiences in the United States into practice. Together, they designed and implemented a workshop called “Success Behind the Scenes.” This workshop aimed to inform young girls in rural regions of Georgia about the vast number of opportunities to live and study abroad.

Dea & Marta: “The first informative session of “Success Behind the Scenes” was a success, drawing girls from rural Georgia, specifically Yvareli. During this session, they were introduced to the Global UGRAD program and similar fully-funded exchange programs. The girls actively participated, asking questions about potential barriers to becoming finalists in prestigious study programs. We engaged in discussions on how to overcome these obstacles and the logical steps for advancing their education.

“Organizing these meetings with high school girls across rural Georgia has significantly piqued their interest in study abroad opportunities. Through interactive sessions, we’ve created a secure space to explore the challenges young Georgian women might face when considering international education. Our upcoming session in Dea’s hometown of Kutaisi, at the same high school she attended during her childhood, aims to serve as a tangible example of a brighter future for students.

Dea & Marta standing with some of the participants at their workshop Marta & Dea standing together at their workshop "Success behind the Scenes"
Dea & Marta with some of the participants at their workshop, “Success Behind the Scenes”

“We hold a strong belief in the power of education to transform nations and promote democracy. Our project’s primary goal is to leverage the knowledge and experiences we’ve gained in the United States to contribute to Georgia’s development over the long term. The U.S. environment has reinforced the importance of unity and embracing individuality, while also highlighting the beauty of connecting with people from diverse backgrounds. They serve as a constant source of inspiration, propelling us to aim higher and reach for the stars.”