Diaspora stories

Keeping diaspora communities engaged with their countries of origin is an important aspect of ICMPD’s High-Profile Diaspora Engagement Programme being implemented by the EU-funded ENIGMMA project. Many diaspora representatives around the world try to keep connected and sometimes act as powerful development actors for their homelands.  A brief glance at the profiles of Georgians living abroad reveals that there are highly skilled specialists and experts among them who are developing new ideas and interesting projects. Engaging them in development processes and establishing connections with them would be beneficial for Georgia as well as their own personal development (career growth, recognition, ties with Georgia, publicity, networking, etc.).

In this section of our website, we offer the platform to those Georgian diaspora representatives who would like to share a personal side of their journey including the identity struggles, culture shocks and pleasant encounters they have discovered along the way.

If you like to share, please e-mail Your Story to us: enigmma@icmpd.org

You can view stories already submitted to us below:

iana_maisuradze_belgiumIana Maisuradze, Belgium: I lived in Georgia until I was 12 and studied at the 195th Public School. I had to go abroad in 2008 due to my parents’ profession. I was a kid then, therefore, Belgium was not my choice. Although, I do not regret any minute I have spent in Brussels as I have learned much in this city. Obviously, it was quite difficult at the beginning to separate myself from my friends back home and to go to the completely unknown environment. I did not know anyone and my English was very limited. I put much effort into developing myself, but it would not be possible to reach my goals if it was not for the professors at Brussels American School and my parents, who always supported me and stood by me at every obstacle I faced. Hard work paid off, and I graduated from BAS with honors. It still feels like home, whenever I visit professors at BAS, they taught me hard work, discipline, and what is the most important of all, to not be afraid of challenges, because that is what leads to improvement.

After graduating from high school, I continued my studies at Webster University Vienna, majoring in Business Administration, minoring in International Relations. My experience from Brussels helped me adapt quickly. Vienna never ceased to amaze me with its beauty, art and architecture. I was happy to pursue my degree in what interested me the most, while living in the city that inspired me everyday. I keep Viennese memories fondly.

Later, I again had the opportunity to return to Brussels, so I did. I continue pursuing my Bachelor’s degree at Catholic University of Leuven, one of the top 100 universities around the world. This was my first encounter with the European university system, which is completely different from the American system. After transferring to KU Leuven, I realized that I was facing a new challenge, which I accepted. I believe that with hard work and motivation, one can inspire him/herself on daily basis. I would advice my peers to “keep on fighting till the end,” since goal-oriented and educated youth can truly make the change, both in Georgia and around the world.

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keti_archaia_franceKeti Archaia, France: The decision to pursue education abroad was largely determined by one year that I have spent in America as a participant of FLEX programme at the age of 15. Upon returning to Georgia, I continued my studies at the American Academy in Tbilisi where students are well prepared for the education abroad. Even though I love Georgia very much, I have decided to continue my education after finishing school in Western Europe, to get acquainted with its culture and to return to Georgia with the obtained education. However, I could not forget American educational system and applied to the American Universities located in Europe. The final decision was mainly determined by funding opportunities – I received full scholarship at the American University of Paris and decided to go there.

I arrived in Paris in 2014, a city where I knew literally nobody which scared me a great deal. I had the feeling of insecurity, I realized that I was alone and everything depended on me only. This is very difficult, but extremely good at the same time – one gets independent, self-confident and goal-oriented.

I was enchanted by French culture. I am charmed by the courtesy of French people, by their individualism and love for art. However, I do not have the same feeling about the bureaucratic authorities of France which complicate lots of things.

Most of all, I like the educational system of my university that is based on the American liberal educational principles. Students are not restricted in any way and are taught analytical thinking. Lectures are very interactive and the grades are mainly determined by students’ activities.

Based on my experience, I support and approve young people’s desire to go abroad. Nowadays, when globalization plays huge role in international relations, exchange of resources among people is of utmost importance. The most valuable resource certainly is education and the young people are its carriers abroad.

Whoever has the desire to go abroad, has to get himself/herself prepared for that. Great stamina, hard work and sense of responsibility are necessary for living abroad alone. Everything is not as easy as it seems from the distance. However, the cultural and intellectual development which is the result of such decision is worth of all the challenges.

My advice to these young people would be not to forget Georgia and to try to get back to their homeland. The experience and knowledge we receive in other countries are extremely necessary for Georgia. We are our country and its future depends on us.

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ana_lejava_usaAnna Lezhava, USA: I have loved dancing since childhood. My dream has always been to stand on the stage and charm the audience by the art in which I put much efforts from the early age. I have been performing Georgian folk dances since the age of 5 and at the age of 10 I was admitted to Ballet Academy after Chabukiani, which is the only professional ballet school in Georgia. The school was destroyed in 2002 as a result of an earthquake in Tbilisi and we had to continue studies under difficult conditions. Many students left Tbilisi than to continue studies in Moscow or St. Petersburg. I also wanted to receive training and professional development in better conditions, therefore, I focused on the United States from the very beginning.

I admired the values and laws the country was based on and was curious to find out about the second homeland of George Balanchine. In 2005 my aunt and her spouse working in the Georgian consulate in Washington DC, managed to show my dance video to Mrs. Vladimir Julukhadze and Mr. Oleg Vinogradov, instructor and art director of Kirov Academy in Washington DC. Afterwards, I received an invitation and continued trainings in Kirov Academy with full funding. I clearly remember my first day in Washington and the arrival in Dallas International Airport. I had just turned 15 and only two weeks had passed after the death of my beloved grandfather. My Grandfather had once told me that everything is in conformity in this universe, and bad things are always followed by good ones. After the decease of my grandfather, I considered arrival in the USA as the part of such conformity and started my activities purposefully.

Even though Nino and Beka used to visit me every weekend at the dormitory of the Academy, I still missed my family, Tbilisi and my village a lot. Overcoming this feeling and handling independence had been the main challenge during the first year. I got very lucky as one of the pianists in the Academy was Georgian and I had great intellectual and emotional linkage with this person. American classmates received me extremely well. Despite the immense competition in our profession, they were distinguished with great ethics, integrity and playfulness. This is what I like in America most of all, the correct understanding of playfulness and freedom by people. I would advise young people planning to continue studies or work in the USA to get used to freedom, self-confidence and development of one’s self. America is the hub of individualism where jungle rules prevail. Notwithstanding any failure and challenge, one has to pull himself/herself together and continue struggle.

One’s path might continue in America, or in Georgia or on any other continent. Staying in America is not the main purpose, it is more important to enjoy the path you have chosen. Despite the challenges following immigration, it is important to know what you want and why you change your location. In such case, as Coelho said, the whole world helps you to reach your dream and nothing is scary.

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tsisia-ninikelashvili_germanyTsisia Ninikelashvili, Germany: Every time people ask me why I have decided to go abroad, first of all I remember my school that played huge role in making me love German language and Germany. I finished Telavi #9 public (German) school. In 2010, I studied in Gebhard-Muller School of Biberach within the frameworks of a three-week exchange programme. The project enabled me to understand what I wanted to do in the future and where I could pursue my goals. My only goal is and has always been to receive higher education in the University of Germany.

In 2012, after finishing school, I arrived in Germany within the frameworks of Au-Pair Programme. I would not say that it was my dream, but it definitely was a mean for achieving the goal. I had nobody in Germany besides one of my best friend and some pen-friends. Thus, I left my family, relatives and my childhood at the age of 19. I say childhood, because no matter how old you are in Georgia, unless you are with the family you consider yourself to be a child – the way grandpa treats you. We Georgians have hard time living abroad because of constant thirst for family. The rest is the everyday problems and young or old, we are all used to the problems in the homeland.

Germany is the leading European country, therefore, the number of migrants is quite high there. That’s why the foreign society has not treated me either coldly or warmly. The word “foreigner” has a different meaning for us. They are not distinguished by hospitality, but they have not learnt the poem by Vasha Pshavela “Stumar-Maspindzeli”.

If I were asked what I liked in this country and what I wished for Georgians to have, I would say the culture of planning, preparation and implementation. This is the huge step towards success. Planning stage is of utmost importance, since if not correctly planned, the preparation and implementation of a scheme will have no sense. This is what I would tell those young people who are still learning at school or finished school and plan to go abroad. Plan your future and sum up your aspirations and capacities well. Think through the minor details and fight for preparing ground and realization of your plan.

I hope our generation will manage to correctly plan the future of Georgia!