For David Gagnidze ’20, his future career and his past experiences are closely intertwined.
Growing up in the Republic of Georgia until the age of seven, Gagnidze recalls witnessing the struggles and hardship in his country. “My calling has always been helping people,” he said. “But my interest definitely started there. Seeing where the country has gone from that point gives me hope, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
This summer, Gagnidze is returning to his country of birth to work at the Caucasus Institute for Peace, Democracy and Development (CIPDD) in Tbilisi. Founded in 1992, the nonprofit hosts workshops with the local youth, assesses the economic problems of regional communities and studies religious and ethnic minorities in Georgia.
An average day for Gagnidze begins with translation. He is tasked with translating documents and reports from Georgian to English. His very first day on the internship involved translating a 23-page report on the ethnic Avar minority living in Georgia.
His other responsibilities include managing the CIPDD social media, assisting with trips to different regions in Georgia and conducting interviews with the locals.
“I’ve really enjoyed interacting directly with the people and communities who we’re helping,” he said.
Major: World Politics
Hometown: Newburgh, NY
High School: Newburgh Free Academy
Gagnidze is also the president of the Shenandoah-Kirkland Initiative (SKI) on campus, where he leads the initiative to mend the relationship between Hamilton College and the Oneida Nation. Because of his own background, Gagnidze is passionate about advocating for ethnic minorities—both on campus and in Georgia.
As a world politics major, Gagnidze hopes to use this experience to better understand how the various ethnic and religious minorities in Georgia have been marginalized—and how he can help.
“As the nation moves forward, it will be vital to spread knowledge and awareness about such groups to the larger public, as well as to promote understanding and cooperation,” he said. “I hope to help the nation of Georgia and her people progress to a functioning democracy that can be an example for other developing nations.”
Gagnidze's internship is supported by the Diversity and Social Justice Project Fund.