The Georgian people are known for two things: their hospitality and their resilience. After centuries of various invasions and empires, they have survived with their culture, their language and their identity intact, with lessons to teach us all in how to adapt and persevere. We had the privilege this spring and summer of wrapping up our USAID/Higher Education for Development funded
project with Tbilisi State University (TSU) to establish their university-based mediation clinic. Our colleagues there persevered through the challenge of continuing project training and activities after the summer 2008 war with Russia, providing new ways of approaching conflict to families, business people, university staff , and government leaders alike (see Fall 2008 newsletter).
The co-directors of the joint project, Prof. Guguli Magradze of TSU and CRI's Prof. Tamra Pearson d'Estrée, met in Washington DC in the spring to finalize plans for evaluating both the clinic and the project itself. Prof. d'Estrée's experience working with American community mediation centers (see Winter 2005 newsletter) informed the development of practices for data gathering, review, and ongoing improvement for clinic staff and procedures. The clinic's evaluation plan will be posted as a resource on CRI's new and improved website, slated for unveiling in 2011. Project goals were met or exceeded, including: new training, expanded curricula, and institutionalized conflict resolution services.
The project also developed local expertise, validated local historical wisdom in conflict resolution processes, developed a Georgian language training manual and texts. Added benefits included physical expansion of the Mediation Clinic at TSU, Georgian language web-based resources, and a formal association with the Georgian Bar Association. CRI is now working with TSU to take this partnership one step further in a new project that will bring conflict resolution skills into the curriculum of primary and secondary schools in the Republic of Georgia.
-- Tamra Pearson d'Estrée