Rima Beridze ’11 (Batumi, Georgia/Powell, OH), has been a FLEX alumna for nearly 10 years now, and during this time she has been an active member of the FLEX alumni community, implementing multiple Global Youth Service Day grants, FLEX Alumni grants (including one in Lithuania), and workshop grants. She explains her inspiration to continue giving back saying, “FLEX taught me that I am the change that I seek and if I want to achieve my goals and see progress around the world, I need to accept all the challenges and be ready for the struggle to improve. Realizing this helped me to find my life goal of becoming a lawyer, while also having clear values in life.“When asked what her biggest motivator is she responded, “After my exchange year, I started to think deeper about identifying different community problems and ways to solve them. I have planned and organized numerous projects that had a long-lasting impact. Sharing is the biggest motivator for me; I want to teach youth that nothing is impossible. By sharing my knowledge and experience, many young people around Georgia have been engaged and the door to new opportunities has been opened to them. Seeing this change in them, along with their feedback, motivates me to hold projects, which can further impact more bright youngsters.“

Rima also had advice for those who are motivated to contribute to their community; “I have worked with many different groups of young people in Georgia and working with them always fills me with emotion. I learn a lot from them and use the opportunity to do a small survey and ask them about their needs. I use these responses to come up with project ideas.“

Rima added that after her projects concluded she could see the impact that they made. Participants became more aware of their rights and responsibilities; they developed soft skills, such as communication, leadership, critical thinking; and they were more aware of opportunities they have to become active citizens, volunteers, and change leaders.

For the younger alumni who are just starting to implement their first projects Rima shares that “FLEX has so many opportunities to keep the alumni network active. I advise younger alumni to utilize them. These opportunities are unique to help in improving their country. Keep sharing your American spirit of independence, freedom, and volunteerism through the projects you implement!“

Written by Tea Mikadze ’16 (Tbilisi, Georgia/Longview, WA)