My Path to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy04 November 2016 / by Zviad Adzinbaia (author)
It’s early morning now in Georgia. Here in Massachusetts’s small town of Somerville, it’s midnight. I can’t sleep. Among three clocks hanging on my wall, one shows Boston time, the second one of Tbilisi.
These days, I started new life across the Atlantic. My dreams about America, freedom and global ideas brought me to the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. In this school, I hear unique and amazing personal stories every day, meet young people who want to change the world. I am one of them – I aspire toward more peaceful world, my home in Abkhazia, which is occupied by a foreign force, and my country in the European family. That’s why I travelled 13 000 kilometers to study international security and conflicts.
Joining Fletcher was challenging enough, but not impracticable. To attain my deeply-held passion, I spent hundreds of hours of prep in the Presidential Library of Tbilisi. Initially, five US institutions, including Fletcher rejected my application encouraging me that “the pool of applicants this year was highly competitive.” This didn’t affect my American plans, but solidified. I invested tremendous time and effort in addition and got ultimately admitted to Fletcher’s prestigious Master’s program in Law and Diplomacy, on March 11 this year.
Being excited about the achievement, I believed the Rubicon was forded - no more obstacles. In reality, this was the fresh start. A painful and very challenging moment, funding, was ahead. Even though my school awarded me a generous amount of a merit-based scholarship, this would only make 35% of my overall expenses for a year in the US. I was facing a dilemma of having to find $48 000 in 3 months. For me, this looked like a desert, where you have no coordinates and idea of getting out, but the willingness to do so.
I entered a scholarship contest of the Georgian Prime Minister’s fund. Fortunately, I was able to win a descent amount of the award filling 65% of the remainder. I was close to the objective, but still far from it. There was $18 000 to be found in 3 weeks before my orientation. There was another Rubicon to be passed.
What happened within the last 20 days, was tremendously impactful in my life. After trying out a number of ways to raise funds (around 40 meetings, 100 phone calls, 700 emails), my friends and I decided to launch a social campaign covering traditional and social media, international fundraising platforms and a couple of other areas. My brilliant friends sent a joint letter to the Fletcher Admissions Office asking for a possible increase of my scholarship. I felt that something big, super-positive force was driving us.
Within the first two weeks, we had great progress garnering $5000 through the campaign. In addition, my friends organized a mind-blowing fundraiser event. The fundraiser was a result of contributions and a great contributor itself to my American dream.
Notably, before we started our campaign, I made my abnormal step – booked my Tbilisi-New York ticket in advance so that there was no way out, but to proceed with great zest and optimism.
Finally, as a result of an array of sleepless nights, failures, huge effort and tremendous support, I achieved my goal and joined my dream school in my beloved country.
This is my second month in the US. As many others do, I am dealing with an ocean of responsibilities and commitments here, but feel happy. It’s my desire to use the knowledge and experience received here for Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic integration and restoration of its territorial integrity. Every obstacle I encounter vanishes, when I remember hundreds of brilliant people, video clips, TV reports and newspaper articles, which brought me here. My friends encouragement “Go Zvio, go, – you gonna make it,” will never go away of my mind.
I love my country and I love the world. The fundraiser event of Tbilisi was entitled, “For Georgia to the United States.” I’ll be proud, if I can slightly contribute to Georgia's and the world security.
“Dripping water hollows out stone not through force, but through persistence.”