''The Messenger'': Georgian Teenagers Debate Globally-the 'Global Success' of BFF-Supported School


The Messenger, Thursday, May 11, 2006, #087 (1107)</p> <p>Georgian Teenagers Debate Globally- The 'Global Success' of BFF Supported School Club Members</p> <p>by Kakha Magradze</p> <p>Being elected President, even of virtual state, is always an honor and privilege, says 15-year old Keti Tateshvili, a student from School #6 in Georgia’s southern town of Akhaltsikhe who recently earned this honor during a round of the virtual game, "Global Island”.</p> <p>Keti was one of 120 students from pupils from schools throughout Georgia who participated in the cyber game "Global Island” this April. "Global Island” is a democracy and problem-solving game on the internet which was developed by the Danish Association for International Cooperation (Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke) to allow students to debate and compete in solving various global problems. Though most popular in the Scandinavian states, the cyber game presently united over 6,000 students from more than 20 different countries.</p> <p>In a recent round of Global Island students representing five virtual nations were faced with issues concerning climate problems and energy concerns.</p> <p>"It was a great experience for me, "admits Keti, "on the one hand I had to push my proposals through and on the other hand I had to gather in-depth information about environmental issues in order to better justify these opinions, which eventually helped me become President of my respective virtual country. Because I chair a local school environmental union the simulations and debates on this issue were especially interesting for me.”</p> <p>Teenagers between the ages of 15-17 in Georgia were able to participate in "Global Island” for the first time this year through Youth Activist Clubs that were created in schools 18 towns throughout Georgia. These Youth Activist Clubs are being implemented within the frames of the Building for the Future program.</p> <p>BFF is a USAID- funded program run by the United Nations Association of Georgia (UNAG), which aims at promoting youth in Georgia to actively engage in building democracy. Today, more than 800 Georgian teenagers are active members of nearly 20 youth Activist clubs throughout the country.</p> <p>"The major goal of BFF is to allow teenagers who are involved in this program to become more educated and more active in society then they are today- this program allows the participants to become more educated and more active in society then they are today- this program allow the participants to become more responsible and helps them gain practical skills which are essential in today’s world,” says Sandro Vashakidze, Youth and Education Programs Director at UNAG.</p> <p>Vashakidze says that the activities occurring at the clubs mainly focus on education, sports and arts and the participants are engaged in organizing summer camps and issuing mini grants.</p> <p>"The topics of trainings for club members are very diverse and range from issues relating to conflict management to proposal writing and fundraising. By organizing summer camps we hope to increase the teamwork skills of the teenagers and foster the inclusion of ethnic minority groups in social activities. BFF’s third major direction-mini grants- enables club member to put their knowledge and skills into practice, "Vashakidze says.</p> <p>According to the frames of the BFF, these Youth Activist Clubs are very well-equipped with computers and internet access, enabling Club members to participate in the "Global Island” game and other internet- based activities.</p> <p>Ana Tabidze of Partners Georgia, who serves as the "Global Island” Georgia coordinator, says that his successful initiative to involve Georgian teenagers in the "Global Island game was aimed at helping local pupils gain computer and internet skill and establish contacts with their colleagues abroad.</p> <p>"The skills and knowledge these students have acquired through various trainings helped them to hugely success in the "Global Island” game, "Tabidze says.</p> <p>On May 16, BFF will host the Youth Forum in Tbilisi, which will gather together club members throughout Georgia to demonstrate the activities they have implemented within the frames of their clubs. Keti Tateshvili will also receive an award for her success in the "Global Island” game at the Forum.</p> <p>Furthermore, on May 20-21 members from different Youth Activist Clubs will again gather-this time in Borjomi –to participate in different sporting competitions, which will be held under aegis of the Georgian National Olympic Committee.