On Friday the 11th of July, the tenth edition of the Leadership Academy of Georgia took place in Tbilsi. Trainers Arjen Berkvens (Max van der Stoel Foundation), Wim Eilering (Eduardo Frei Stichting) and Jeroen de Veth (VVD International) gathered with the participants in the Sheraton Metechi hotel to kick-off the 2nd lustrum. As the trainers stated from the beginning ‘ We are here to improve yourself, not to just give information’

The participants of this year were from 11 different parties/ngo’s from both the government- as well as opposition parties. On the first day, the main focus was on the personal values of the participants. Political background and preferences did not matter in this training. Nevertheless, from the start the trainers had to interfere in the discussion: “this is developing into a political debate, this weekend’s aim is not to criticize each other on political differences”. As the participants stated later on: ‘It is an uncommon happening that we are all working together. Because of the Leadership Academy we are now able to understand each other’s values more’. By the end of the first day, the participants used the newly gained information on personal values during a special guest lecture by Inge Snip on the EU association agreement that was signed on June 27th. Common values and threats were discussed in a respectful way.

On the second day, the participants made a SWOT analyses (Strenght, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats analyses) for each ideology and political party present. Where on the first day there was still doubtfulness towards each other, this exercise showed improvement on working together more and more. The participants integrated better and sort of coalitions were starting to develop. From there on, the training focused mostly on integrating the personal values of the first day with the right strengths of their party into a political message. After a second day of hard training, it was time to illustrate what the Leadership Academy can lead to. In the evening, several alumni of the Leadership Academy that are now in high governmental positions attended the Grand Dinner. The Dinner was even more special due to the presence of H.E. Mr. Horbarch, Dutch Ambassador to Georgia.

On the last day of training the values, swot analyses and techniques of developing a strong message were put into practice. The participants practised short message presentation with the help of cameras and experienced the use of feedback right away. After the practical morning session, it was time to integrate the participants into different groups to cooperate on making a campaign clip. Due to the integration, the message was based on common values and the videos showed great success.

By the end, the trainers thanked the participants for being a group who was eager to learn. They emphasized the fact that they have to keep improving themselves, everyday. Self-improvement is valuable for the development of Georgia, the nation and the world. Together with everyone, for everyone. ‘This is the first day of the rest of your life’.