During ECLA’s Annual Conference, students developed projects dedicated to social entrepreneurship. Following presentations by the three competing teams, the winning project was announced on Friday. It proposed setting up a youth radio station in the Georgian district of Marneuli. It was conceived by Lika Tarkhan-Mouravi and Leah Whitman-Salkin and developed by Mariam Gagoshashvili, Firuza Ganieva, Daria Ghiu, Eka Imerlishvili, Maria Savulescu and Pranab Singh.
In the region of Marneuli, not far from the Georgian capital Tbilisi, the majority of the population (98 thousand of 118 thousand people) consists of Azeris who do not speak the official language of the country. The team identified the absence of a common language as the root of many problems in the region. They proposed that issues such as the high unemployment rate, limited media-outlets, limited access to information, and low participation in the country’s political, social and cultural life could be addressed by “Youth Radio Marneuli”.
The aim of the “Youth Radio Marneuli” project is to initiate and implement youth-run radio programs in the Marneuli district, which would facilitate cultural exchange between the three major ethnic groups: Azeri, Armenian and Georgian. Such a radio station would provide information and entertainment in three languages for the whole community, as well as job training and work experience for high school students, and thus would further language education and promote cultural and social integration.
A sample 1.5 hour programme devised by the ECLA group included community updates, interviews and music. The programmes would be hosted by an Azeri-Georgian and an Armenian-Georgian speaker. Other potential programming outlined in the project included live and DJ-ed Georgian, international and local music, reports on youth and public issues, folk stories and poetry readings, multilingual dialogues and radio dramas.
The group presented a detailed timeline of the project implementation, which includes applying for grants, preparing sample programmes and organizing focus groups on location in Georgia, selecting team members, training and, finally, launching the first show. The preparation period of the project is six months and its startup cost amounts to 8,200 Euros. The group also calculated approximate revenues and expenses for the first year of running the radio station.
The final presentations and the announcement of the winning project were followed by a garden reception unspoilt even by the stormy weather.
By Natalia Ryabchikova (2007, Russia)