Sociology widened my worldview through analytical thinking
After graduation, Mamia returned to his home region, Kakheti, a "wine cradle" of Georgia where he started to work in tourism and over a few years he became the Chairman of the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara Autonomous Republic. It was the critical thought as well as intercultural experience of his student life in Brno that helped him to succeed in tourism industry and that keep inspiring his projects focused on local communities. He hopes that Georgian tourism will enter the Czech market soon.
Name and surname: Mamia Berdzenishvili
Current residence: Batumi, Georgia
Study program at FSS: Master Degree in Sociology (2011)
Thesis topic: Modernity and Identity Construction: Religious Fundamentalism
Work and career: I received my Bachelor’s Diploma in Sociology at Tbilisi State University, Georgia in 2005 and then proceeded with Master’s studies in Sociology at Masaryk University. Beginning of my professional career in tourism industry is connected with “Lufthansa" office in Brno, where I started working in 2008 and spent 2 years at sales and customer relations department. After returning to my hometown Batumi, Georgia in 2011, I became the head of the marketing and advertising division at Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara Autonomous Republic and a bit later moved to the position of the Head of Tourism and Service Division. Two years later I was promoted to the position of First Deputy Chairman and since 2015, I have been occupying the position of the Chairman of the Department. In addition to my regular job, I deliver lectures in Sociology at Batumi State University and I teach business tourism at Caucasus School of Business in Batumi.
Why did you decide to pursue your Master degree at Masaryk University?
I decided to study at Masaryk University mainly because of the reputation of the Department of Sociology and their study program. The academic schedules, courses, sources of knowledge, use of technology as well as the Czech heritage and history of the university is way better in comparison to my home university. I have no hesitation to declare MU as the changer of my expertise and skills in Sociological understanding. It helped me grow a different outlook of my analytical abilities.
How was the study here different from your home university in Georgia?
To start with, the main difference that I immediately felt at Masaryk University was combination of experience, practice and international engagement of the university and its professors, which is crucial for social science understanding. As Sociological thoughts and theories are derived from the occidental environment, the abovementioned involvement is very important in this field of science. Secondly, the university facilities and the environment create perfect conditions encouraging to study. I had everything for receiving the quality education which you unfortunately do not always find at my home university.
What expectations did you have when you decided to come here and study in Brno?
I always felt that studying in Europe would be extremely beneficial for me. However, as I had not traveled to Europe before, I did not have a clear picture and therefore particular expectations about the educational practices, lifestyle and general living conditions in Czech Republic. I should admit that I entered a completely unknown world when I first came to Brno.
How did your study at Masaryk University affect your future career?
The knowledge and skills I have acquired at MU were priceless. I have learnt how to think critically and how to apply theoretical knowledge to my everyday life. This has greatly contributed to my further career success. In addition to the education I have received at MU, I have learnt a lot about the international community. Everyday encounters with people of different nationalities were a big experience for me that have widened my understanding of various cultures and behaviour of people from all around the world. All the above mentioned i.e. critical thinking and understanding of international community helped me reach success in tourism sphere.
What is your current job? How is it related to what you have studied?
I am currently involved in the tourism industry in Georgia. I am the chairman of the Department of Tourism and Resorts of Ajara Autonomous Republic which takes care of the tourism affairs in the region of Georgia called Ajara. Our main tasks are to promote Ajara as a tourist destination on national and international level. We are trying to develop products and services through assisting the local communities and private businesses to effectively carry out tourism entrepreneurship and develop analytical and statistical tools in tourism for the local government. Sociological knowledge helps me to widen my worldview through analytical thinking which is very crucial once you are engaged in the tourism business.
Is the tourism in Georgia on the rise?
Tourism has been actively developing in Georgia since 2005. Just for comparison, in 2005 Georgia hosted approximately 300 000 international visitors while this number has increased up to 6 000 000 in 2015. This is a clear indication that tourism is on the rise in Georgia.
Which places do most people want to visit?
The most visited place is the capital city Tbilisi. Very popular is also the Kakheti region, which is considered to be a wine cradle of Georgia. We have over 8000-year winemaking history and Georgia’s winemaking method in clay vessel called “Kvevri” is part of the UNESCO intangible cultural heritage of the world. Another place worth visiting is Batumi – the administrative centre of my region Ajara located on the Black Sea shore, and Svaneti, which is one of the oldest and highest settled places of the world on the hilltop of Caucasus Mountains with many UNESCO cultural heritage sites.
What about Czech tourists – is there a lot of them visiting Georgia?
Despite the fact that the number of Czech tourists is growing year by year total figures are not considerable. I hope we will be able to enter the Czech market as we are expanding our activities towards the West as well. For example, Georgia and Ajara region are very popular in Poland. Hopefully, we will be represented on your tourism market in the nearest future.
Let’s talk a bit more about your stay in the Czech Republic. What was the biggest surprise when you first came here?
The biggest surprise was people and their lifestyle. I was really amazed by the way they respect each other’s personal life and obey the rules. In addition, it was especially striking for me to see how a Czech person can stay individual and at the same time belong to the part of the collective society which harmonizes the general life.
How did you feel about Czech people that you met during your studies in Brno?
Extremely Positive! Czech people are always ready to share their experience and give you a hand whenever it is necessary. To sum up, you feel really comfortable living with them. I have made many friends there. Gladly, we are still in touch. Many of them are visiting Georgia and I have great pleasure to host them in my hometown Batumi.
Do you still visit some of them from time to time? When did you last visit Czech Republic?
Whenever I have a chance! Last time I was in Brno in June, 2013. I stayed there for 4 days. I was really excited to meet again people with whom I used to spend most of my time. Unfortunately, it was holidays and I did not manage to meet my professors and the FSS staff.
Where did you stay in Brno during your study? Was it difficult to find accommodation?
During the first semester I stayed at “Druzba” dormitory and then I moved to “Vinarska” which I found more attractive than the former one. For me, finding an accommodation was not difficult at all thanks to the wonderful staff of the student’s international relations office of FSS and namely to Jolana Navratilova. Moreover, I am sure with their help no student would struggle in finding accommodation in Brno.
What piece of advice would you give to foreign students who are thinking of studying at the Faculty of Social Sciences of Masaryk University?
If you think about studying at the Faculty of Social Sciences at Masaryk University be sure you are making life changing decision due to the following reasons: wonderful professors, helpful staff, one of the best facilities of the university in the Eastern Europe, best student life city Brno, excellent international environment, very affordable prices, friendly and positive Czech people and overall – quality education!
3 words to describe myself: Highly motivated, progress seeking and kind-hearted individual.
3 words to describe my job: Diverse, intense and interesting.
Life Motto: Be better than you were yesterday.
What I expect from the future: Currently Georgia is undergoing transitional period. Our, as a country’s success, greatly depends on commitment and dedication of each citizen of Georgia, including me. I strongly believe that eventually our efforts will be fruitful and we will live in prosperous Georgia, where all generations will be able to live in peaceful, prosperous and self-expressing environment.
What comes into my mind when someone says Masaryk University: Enlightenment, enlightenment, and enlightenment!
What is my “Czech experience”: MU can boast a really good word of mouth. Few of my friends were studying in MU before and they constantly shared their experience and positive feedback about the university itself, Brno, student life and the Czech Republic. An important factor was also the tuition fee that luckily turned out to be quite affordable. In addition, I won a government scholarship that was financing part of my studies. After research in the internet I became even more convinced that MU was right choice for me as it was responding to my personal and professional goals. So, I applied to FSS.