December 8, 2020 In E-I, Regions, Samtskhe - Javakheti, Themes, Women in Technology
Tamta Kapanadze, 20 years old, village Tkemlana, Akhaltsikhe Municipality
“My childhood, growing up in the village, was like every other kid living there. I helped my parents do chores, and I was teased and restless. I always heard in my family that there is nothing more important than education. My mother is a mathematician and my father is also highly educated, so I too tried to be a good pupil. I was lazy sometimes, but when I saw how much support I had and how they struggled, I wanted to be successful. I participated in different projects, went to camps and I grow up mentally. When a child grows up in a village, she has less communication; so, I wasn’t used to contacting strangers, and the first time I went to the camp, I was a little shy. When I came back home, I realized that behaving like that was nonsense, and when I went there for the second time, I already behaved in a different way – I became very open and tried to get the most out of it. I used the school period, especially last year, very well.
While I was preparing for the university exams, I decided not to use the help of tutors – I don’t like this trend, which lately has been become a must. I was preparing independently – if others didn’t go to school during this time at all, I had only missed probably just a few days and the school teachers also helped me a lot. I was studying maths at home and the whole family was involved in the learning process. If I had something to solve, my parents did nothing but help me. I got enrolled at Akaki Tsereteli State University, in Kutaisi – the faculty of Mathematics. I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, but I knew I was going to the technical field. Mathematics is a prerequisite for too many fields and that’s why I chose it. Many people thought that I wanted to become a teacher, they told me that I would be a teacher and take care of my family easier. Some people told me to choose some other faculty – there are such stereotypical attitudes towards professions, but I wanted to do it and I did it.
I was in the 11th grade when I participated in the FLEX program, this was my second attempt. When I was in the last round and I already thought that I was going to the USA, I got rejected. It was very painful for me and, even today, when I talk about FLEX and my unfulfilled American dream, it’s very difficult, but this story changed my future – I no longer fear failure and if something interesting appears, I always try my luck. Therefore, I also got interested in social media and web programming training. I also had previous experience with the Innovative Education Foundation and I was sure that would be a huge source of experience for me.
The training process was great, we had an amazing trainer and we were a good team. Even though it was on a weekend and it was the holidays, everyone was happy to go there because of the great environment. It was out of the question that we’d need help and Megi or any other members wouldn’t help. The learning process was both fun and productive, we put a lot of hard work into it. In the end, we learned a lot – making a business page, advertising, we learned how to bring our message to customers, in general, what kind of content we needed to create, creating a web site on WordPress; we learned how to work in a team, which is very important.
When we finished the training, I didn’t plan for an internship, I thought the times would overlap with my lectures at university. I finished the project with great scores and Megi was worried, that I was doing my maximum and I shouldn’t be giving up, so I filled out the internship form anyway. That’s how I got into ”Aldagi”. I was very happy about it. My job was to take care of PR for one of the programs. I created content, brochures, and chose my region – Samtskhe-Javakheti, where I had to support the promotion. Most importantly, this was my first job and I learned to work there. After the internship, all of us got the chance to fill out an application to travel to Lisbon. I didn’t have high hopes because really great girls and women were involved in this project, however, I got among those four chosen participants. The main motivation to go was to see on what level the world is today. More focus there was on startups, which interested me less. So, I attended more sessions that were tailored to programming. I was observing what I could learn for the future – what was the priority for me, which similar methods could I use in Kutaisi, and, in general, in Georgia.
Before I left for Lisbon, I saw that Google was launching a project for developer students across Europe to promote “Google Developers’’ Products and introduce new technologies to students. Those who already have some knowledge in this field will be able to learn more, while those who don’t – will get a better chance to make a choice for the technology field. Even though it seemed unrealistic to me, I went through the interview and I was chosen. Within this project, I was in Paris, at the European Summit of the Student Club of Developers, and that’s where I finally decided that I should be a woman in technology. When the project was over, I decided that Kutatisi needed ”GDG Kutaisi” – the Google developers’ team, and I created it. We have only managed a few events. I was planning to conduct a technology festival in Kutaisi, I submitted this project at the university, I also wrote to Google, I solved all the organizational issues, but due to the pandemic, we had to stop. When all of this is over, I’ll definitely do it. Google later started the mentors’ project and I was chosen as a mentor to help new leaders.
I believe that I feel most comfortable in the programming field and I’m going to enroll in the Institute of Business and Technology. They say that programming doesn’t require a diploma, but I want to go through all the stages. I already know how being a student should feel like; in addition to the knowledge I want to gain, I also want to take advantage of all the benefits of being a student – participate in different projects or in researches.
I’m now in my fourth year at the university, I work here in student services, plan and implement projects, offer ideas, etc. In the future, I also plan to start a business, but only after I return to Akhaltsikhe. During school, I was heartbroken that in Akhaltsikhe there wasn’t any school similar to ”Komarov”, which specialized in physics-mathematics and computer science. So, I really want such a school to be here – there are many children in Akhaltsikhe who are good at math and we really need it. I’m planning to start a business in my village – more and more people are leaving and I want to lend a hand to people to have jobs. In general, I plan to live in the village, but I also have plans for the city: I want to be a part of improving the educational field – maybe I can’t create a new one, but I know what I’d implement. After returning to my region, I’ll work as a programmer but only as a freelancer. I want to create free programming learning groups in Akhaltsikhe. I especially want to help women because stereotypes await women everywhere and in the regions – even more. I know it requires a lot of work, but nothing is immutable.’’
Author: Nino Gamisoania
Photo: Davit Shvelidze/Geda Darchia
Translator: Mariam Kajrishvili
‘’Tamta Kapanadze was one of the 124 participants in the women’s web development and social media marketing training program in 2019. The training program was part of the UN Women project “A Joint Action for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Georgia” funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway. The views expressed in the story are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of UN Women, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, United Nations or any of its affiliated organizations.”