ISET President Sharing an Inspiring Story at Tbilisi TEDx
Monday, 18 April, 2016

Mr. Livny chose to devote his TEDx talk to the challenge of bringing education and light to Georgia’s remote villages. He told the story of Dzevri, a tiny village in Imereti, which used the help of an American couple, Cathy McLain and Roy Southworth, to revolutionize the local school. In just three years, college enrolment for local school graduates went from zero to almost 100%. These amazing results were achieved by giving students incentives in the form of a modest scholarship (covering the cost of tuition at a public college or university) and using volunteers’ help to organize a wide range of extracurricular activities (English classes, baseball, drama, etc.).

Mr. Livny emphasized the importance of exposing Georgian children to new role models in order to widen their worldview and give them something to strive for. He argued that one can achieve a lot by simply changing children’s motivation. This is a crucial point: progress is possible without a lot of investment in infrastructure or bureaucratic tinkering with teaching standards, certification, etc.

Eric argued that to improve a lot of rural youth, Georgia could develop its own volunteer organizations, rather than rely on people like Roy and Cathy, or foreign organizations such as US Peace Corps. Georgia could also introduce a civil service obligation for university students receiving full government scholarships. Finally, we, as individuals, can also do a lot ourselves.

Eric admitted that bringing change is about a long-term commitment. Yet, as he concluded, “doing development and helping other people is emotionally rewarding and contagious. Once you get started it is difficult to stop. Once you see others do it, you feel like doing it yourself. “

TEDx Tbilisi took place on April 17, 2016, in the Tbilisi Conservatorium. A video version of Eric’s talk will be soon available online. Its blog version is available in English and Georgian.