Youth Bank – Path Towards Change and Development
Two young people living in two regions located far away from each other – Mestia resident Vika Pilpani and Lanchkhuti resident Nino Tsetskhladze – have one thing in common: both were trainees of the Europe Foundation’s Youth Bank and now, as trainers, they share their knowledge and experience with other participants of Youth Bank.
Nino Tsetskhladze joined the Youth Bank of Lanchkhuti in 2011. She says that one of her main motives for joining was her desire to see change. “I was looking for new challenges and when we were presented with the project it raised my desire and motivation to change the attitudes of local youth and eradicate specific problems existing in my community.”
“I think I succeeded in changing the views of youth in my community to a certain extent. They started to care more about the environment as they began to realize that the environment they live in must be healthy,” Nino says. She also recalls how being in Youth Bank helped her develop personally and professionally. “Over time I participated in various new trainings, for example, a training on food safety. After returning from that training I had to conduct the same training in my community and I believe I managed to change the attitudes of the participants somewhat in the training. If nothing else, they now look at labels to see products’ expiration dates.” According to Nino, successful projects change the mistrust that initially existed in the community towards them. “Seeing our actions, they came to trust us more. I think we built up and transferred this trust to subsequent generations of Youth Bank.”
Nino, who is now a student at the economics and business faculty at Tbilisi State University, speaks with pride about the positive changes participation in the Youth Bank made in her life.
“I became more confident about myself and my abilities, gained huge experience in interacting with people, making presentations, leading activities, working with documents. At the beginning, it seemed impossible that I would be able to write a report. I started as a financial manager at Youth Bank and this largely determined the choice of my future profession.”
Nino believes that being a trainer of the Youth Bank a new stage began in her life: new challenges emerged and new experiences and opportunities were gained.
A trainee of the Youth Bank of Svaneti, Vika Pilpani, now a law student at Tbilisi State University, joined Youth Bank in 2009. She says that despite her young age she has always had an ambition to assume responsibility for the environment.
According to Vika, participation in Youth Bank benefitted her life and personal development. “This meant assuming greater responsibility for my environment and before those around me. I felt like a fully-fledged citizen of Georgia, gained huge experience – including of interacting with people – and that experience remains useful to date both in the university and in various activities.” Vika performs various activities: she was the head of the cultural heritage committee of a youth nongovernmental organization and organized cultural-educational expeditions. She was a volunteer at the Baku youth games and Tbilisi youth Olympics. Vika leads various mock programs like model NATO and model UN, in which her experience as a trainer helps her significantly.
“Being a trainer for Youth Bank, which helped me grow, is the key acquisition which I will always be proud of. I always say loudly that I was a trainee and am now a trainer at Youth Bank.”
The uniqueness of the Europe Foundation’s Youth Integration program is that it enables its participants, young persons between 16 and 21 years old, to carry out independently, without the supervision of adults, every activity of the program and develop the skills needed for leadership and modern life. Between 2008 and 2015, the Youth Idea program trained up to 700 young persons who managed to involve more than 5,000 peers in solving local problems. Today, 25 committees of the Youth Bank operate in Georgia.