Study a new democracy in the making
Historical & Cultural Georgia
Georgia is an ancient country that sits at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Given its geographical position, Georgia is a multinational myriad of cultural influences. Georgian traditions of poetry, dance and hospitality have always attracted European poets and writers. Tolstoy, Pushkin, and Alexander Dumas have all written about their adventures in Georgia.
After more than 100 years in the Russian Empire and another 70 in the USSR, Georgia regained its independence in 1991. It is now a member of the UN, the WTO, and the Council of Europe. Since 1991, Georgia has struggled to build a new society, a market economy, and democratic governance. The current President, Giorgi Margvelashvili, was elected in the fall of 2013, to serve a 5-year term.
The host city of Tbilisi was founded more than 1500 years ago, and today boasts a population nearing 1.5 million. It has all the modern conveniences, from ATMs and restaurants to jazz clubs and concert halls. Georgian food is a particular delight, with multiple influences from the Middle East and Europe. Tbilisi is a safe city and transport is easy by subway and bus. There will nevertheless be proper security briefings for students.
The program was launched in 1996. Along with Williams College and Wellesley College, Mount Holyoke established a student exchange with Tbilisi State University, the premier higher educational institution in Georgia. A professor from one of the three US colleges will accompany students. The program is designed for students in all disciplines. There is no language requirement.
Curriculum & Activities
The program consists of an approximately 3-week trip to Georgia, during which students stay with Georgian families in the capital of Tbilisi. Students spend 2 weeks in an internship of their choosing.
- Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Hospitals and other social services
- Art Museums
- NGOs (refugees, training unemployed women to start a business)
In addition to the internship, students will attend 3 lectures on aspects of Georgian history and culture led by local professors.
Previous Lectures Offered:
- "History of the Georgian Language"
- "Democracy Building in Georgia"
- "Georgian Relations with Russia"
There will be visits to the Parliament to meet with local politicians, and excursions outside the capital to historical and archeological sites. Many students have enjoyed skiing in the Caucasus Mountains, as well. We will be hosted in Tbilisi by our local representative. This is a 2 credit course and students will be expected to write a report on their internship experience when they return to Mount Holyoke College.
In Georgia, the main language is Georgian, a difficult language with its own alphabet. Russian is also spoken by the older generation. However, many young people in Georgia understand and speak English, and your families and internships will be chosen to ensure that you have someone with whom you can communicate in English. There will be opportunities to take classes in Georgian or Russian during your stay.
Costs, Travel Dates, Application
The program fee for 2015 will be in the neighborhood of $2,500. The precise amount will be determined by the end of October. Students may apply to the course instructor for scholarship assistance, but funds are very limited, and students should expect to cover the majority of the program fee and other costs from their own resources.
Students will depart at the beginning of January and return just before the start of the second semester at Mount Holyoke (exact dates depend on flights). The group generally leaves from JFK in New York City (students arrange independent travel to JFK) and flies through Istanbul.
Valid passports are the students’ responsibility. Visas are not required for U.S. citizens. The entry conditions for other citizens are posted on the Georgian Embassy's website.
All students must have health insurance that will cover them in Georgia. Students will be covered by AIG/Travel Guard, which will provide assistance in the event of a medical or other emergency, but is not a substitute for health insurance.
Students must complete an on-line form to apply for the program. Stephen Jones, Professor of Rusian Studies, conducts the program at MHC and is available to answer questions (see contact information below).
Students accepted to the program must make a firm commitment by November 1st whether to participate.
Professor Stephen Jones