Thursday, April 24, 2014

Access Program Changes Lives

Salome Abramishvili, 15, joined the English Access Mictroscholarship (Access) Program in Telavi, Kakheti region in September 2012 and has been one of the most hardworking and motivated students ever since.

Funded by the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi and implemented by PH International, Access Program aims to make the study of English accessible to adolescent from an economically disadvantaged background. In addition to working on their language skills, the participants of the program become familiar with various aspects of U.S. and western democratic values and culture, develop leadership qualities and interpersonal skills. 

Even though the starting level of all the Access students was rather low and it took a lot of work and persistence to keep motivated, progress and improvement in language competences as well as communication and presentation skills came quite fast.

During the Access program enrichment activity on the topic of civic participation carried out at Telavi Civic Engagement Center, Access program students were offered to apply for participation in various thematic small projects that included “Media Café”, “Clean Telavi”, “Healthy Lifestyle”, and “Translator for Local PCV”. Salome together with a couple of her fellow Access students applied for the project of “Translator for Local PCV” and after going through an interview a couple of weeks later she got an unexpected call from Carolyn Ayres, Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Telavi.

“Oh my god, it was such a surprise!! I could not believe she chose me!” shares Salome later with an excited smile and bright eyes. “Thanks to Access, I got my very first volunteer job!”

Carolyn and Salome started to work together at the New Life Foundation that serves disabled children and adolescents from economically and socially disadvantaged families and aims at their social integration.  They began with teaching English and drawing to children aged 5-6 but soon expanded their activities to include teaching English to teachers of other disciplines.

“I can’t even start thinking of what my life would be, if I did not join the Access!” – admits Salome. “It would certainly be a lot more boring than now!”

“Access is my new family, where we all feel welcome and comfortable. And it is not only about learning English! We’ve learned a lot about American culture and lifestyle as well as of values of western democratic countries. We have all become much more confident, active and motivated than before. Now we are not afraid to take initiative or express our opinions and ideas.”

As the program comes to an end and students prepare for their graduation ceremony and final summer school, a lot of them also get ready for National University Exams.   

“I know for a fact that none of my fellow Access program students receive any additional tutoring in English. Our families would simply not be able to afford it. If not Access, I do not know how we would be able to even think of passing the National University Entrance Exams.” – admits Salome.  

Students are very excited about the graduation ceremony, but they are also sad that the program is about to finish.

“During these two years, Access has become part of our lives. I can’t imagine not looking forward to an Access class” shares Salome. “We cannot help feeling sad about the upcoming wrap-up of the program. But the good thing is we found a way to stay in touch with the Access and each other. We plan to establish an Access Club, though which we’ll hold regular meetings. Also, if the Access Program continues in Telavi and recruits new students, we’ll be happy to participate in the enrichment activities and to share our experience with the new generation of Access students”.

“Enrollment in the Access Program changed my whole life” – exclaims Salome when asked to sum up her Access experience. “I never stop feeling grateful for the chance!”

1 comment:

  1. English is one of the most important languages in the world. It can even be said to be the single most important language.Other languages are important too

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