If you had asked me a few years ago about my future in politics, I would have told you I had no such future. In my mind, politics was the business of other people. I considered myself apolitical. Fast forward a few years, now I see that there is no such thing as an apolitical person.
Today, at 25, I am a chairman of the Republic of Georgia’s Labor Party’s youth organization and a member of the Political Committee of the Party. I’m also representing my country on the new European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) supported by USAID.
How did I get here?
Several years ago a friend and member the youth organization of the Labor Party asked me to get involved. He was busy working on a number of issues in our community but felt more young people should participate. I attended several youth meetings and felt inspired to share my thoughts and ideas. From there, I got involved in several projects and realized that I started liking this work — politics started to mean something to me. I also realized something else: politics affects all of us — every minute of our lives. No one can say politics is for other people.
From my own experience, I know that young people are not always well informed about political organizations and often have wrong perceptions about politics. This keeps many of us from getting involved. More young people need a friend or colleague to help them see beyond stereotypes and show them the reality of what’s possible through an active political lifestyle.
This is why I am excited to be part of the international youth network – EDYN. Through EDYN, it will be possible to involve more young people in political and social activities. It is so important for young people to get acquainted with peers from different European countries, find good friends, share experiences, impressions and find agreement on fundamental values. EDYN will expand the potential of generations of young leaders, but will also create long-term benefits Eastern European countries as well. By working alongside youth leaders from throughout the region, I believe Georgian youth and my country in general will be better able to achieve more European integration and will make progress on issues like democracy, justice, freedom of speech, gender equality, and other important social issues.
EDYN has been made possible by the United States government, through USAID, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National Democratic Institute (NDI). Their staff have helped us form our first leadership council and create a vision for what we hope to achieve as a network. During our kick-off week in Washington DC, their team exposed us to many different ideas; we met with political leaders from different political parties and perspectives, and we learned that working together as a group of politically diverse members was not only possible, but ideal. I feel thankful toward the United States and all involved organizations for their support and hard work.
EDYN is going to expand in near future, so we are excited to attract more young people to our ranks. Using social media, we will share an online registration form for new members interested in joining. I think EDYN offers a great challenge and prospect for any young person interested in creating change. Because our group embraces diverse points of view, any young leader can become a member of EDYN. I recommend that they do.