“I want to speak Georgian with Georgians” – Ukrainians in Batumi
University professor, philologist Maya Kikvadze teaches the Georgian language not only to Ukrainians, the list of her students includes Turks, Azerbaijanis and Armenians:
“Recently, the number of people wishing to learn the Georgian language has increased. We teach Georgian to four groups of Ukrainians, and as far as I know, many are waiting in line to enroll in courses.
The course started on August 8 and will end at the end of November. During this period, you can master the language at the communicative level. These are very mobilized and active groups. I teach Ukrainian citizens who arrived in Georgia during the war. Basically, these are Russian-speaking Ukrainians from Kherson and Kharkov, ”the Georgian language professor told the Batumelebi publication.
Resuscitator from Ukraine Kateryna Shvets attends Georgian language courses at Batumi State University. She made the decision to leave her homeland because of her little son.
“When you have a child, your mind prioritizes differently. When there is danger, you instinctively run away from this place, the only question is where. The main thing is not to allow the child to be in danger. If I didn’t have a small child, I would definitely stay in Ukraine, but it so happened that I came to Georgia.
I decided to learn the language for a simple reason: when you live in a country, you must understand the language of this country, this is an elementary respect for citizens and for this country. Not to mention the fact that we ourselves need to adapt and communicate with the locals.
Who knows when we will return to Ukraine. Who knows when this war will end. Even if it ends, how long will it take to rebuild the ruined and devastated country? Therefore, I believe that we and our children should learn Georgian,” says Katerina Shvets.
Daria Danelia attends Georgian language classes with her husband and son, who is not yet a year old. Daria gave birth to her third child in Georgia:
“I want not to speak Russian. I don’t want to speak Russian with Georgians in Georgia. Russians use language as a weapon. If I live in Georgia, then my children and I will know Georgian, and we will speak Georgian with Georgians. My husband is from Abkhazia, he is Georgian. He cannot go to the grave of his parents in Abkhazia.
The Russians created the hell in which the Ukrainians now live. Now we are here in Batumi, it’s summer, the sea, beautiful places to relax, but we walk like detached ones, because the scenes of the war are still before our eyes, we will never forget these days. Sometimes we are told: look at what a beautiful city you are in, take a walk, have fun … But we cannot. The war is still within us.
As our grandmothers cried until the last days, remembering the horrors of the Great Patriotic War, so we will always remember.
Sometimes during fireworks, my son asks me: Mom, are these bombs? I explain to him that this is fireworks, but he does not believe,” says Daria Danelia.
The “Network of Centers for Democratic Engagement” (NCCE) launched a new project in Batumi office in July, the purpose of which is to support Ukrainian citizens who arrived in Batumi.
Information meetings with representatives of state bodies are planned, events that will help Ukrainians affected by the war to raise awareness of the mechanisms for reporting and responding to various crimes, including violence and sexual harassment.
Within the framework of the same project, art therapy classes and Georgian language courses for children and adults were organized. The courses are free.
Supporting activities for Ukrainian citizens living in Batumi are carried out by the “Network of Centers for Democratic Engagement” within the framework of the project: “Strengthening the Community for Gender Equality” and “Initiative of Social Change”.
According to Teona Diasamidze, head of the Batumi office of the Network of Centers for Democratic Engagement, Georgian language classes are held in cooperation with the American Language Center.
The concept of teaching the Georgian language is based on the principles of teaching the Georgian language, developed by the famous Kartvelologist Tariel Putkaradze.
“The program was preceded by a needs survey conducted in July among Ukrainian citizens by our network of centres. The need for language courses was identified. In addition to adult Ukrainians, in our center we also conduct Georgian language courses for minors under 13 years of age.
As a result, more than 500 citizens of Ukraine will be involved in the project,” said Teona Diasamidze.
The project is part of the EU for Gender Equality: Together Against Gender Stereotypes and Gender Violence, jointly with UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with the support of the European Union.