An International Women’s Association exchange begins

Mieke Langenberg welcomes members from IWA in Georgia and Armenia; copyright Keith Kenney,2012.

Story by Susanna Melo

Two very different IWA organizations came together for the first time in Mieke and Peter Langenberg’s home in order to get to know and learn from one another. IWA Yerevan is smaller than IWA Georgia, which has more than 200 members, so some of the topics of conversation were “How do you put together your newsletter?” or “What kinds of services do you provide your community?”

Pamela Karg receives a gift of a Tbileasy book from Mieke Langenberg; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.

The evening began in the lovely garden-patio of the Dutch ambassador’s home. Individuals intermingled easily while enjoying the potluck dinner prepared by IWAG members. Mieke (IWAG president) introduced Pamela Karg (president of IWA Yerevan) and gifted her with a “Tbileasy Guidebook,” an invaluable resource produced by some very hardworking IWAG women in order to make the transition of an expat moving to Tbilisi easier (thus the title: TbilEASY!).

In turn, Pamela Karg and the ladies from Yerevan gifted us with high quality Armenian cognac, produced by the Proshyan Brandy Factory; a handicraft basket with pomegranate flowers (the symbol of Armenia); beautiful edible flowers, and dried fruit covered in chocolate, a delicious Armenian specialty!

Keith and I had fun talking to the Armenian ladies and men and found that we had many common interests. For example: Keith spoke to a young, female journalist from Germany who had lived in Georgia during the Rose Revolution. They exchanged conversation on the day’s big event of public demonstrations taking place in downtown Tbilisi. I learned from Wilma (Puerto Rico) that her son works for the World Health Organization as an infectious disease specialist in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil—where I am from!). Armine and I found our commonality as lovers of art: now she paints on silk but earlier she earned a law degree, whereas I am pursuing ceramics after retiring from teaching. Pamela and I are both United Methodists, and so on…

I feel certain that this little seed of initiative and friendship that was planted by the two Caucasus IWA groups will grow. There are plans in the making for the IWAG group to visit their “sisters” in Yerevan in the autumn. Who knows what else will stem from this relationship?

Members of IWA Georgia and IWA Yerevan pose for a photo in the backyard of Mieke Langenberg’s home; copyright Keith Kenney, 2012.


About keithrkenney
Keith Kenney is a professor of visual communication at the University of South Carolina. He is living in Tbilisi, Georgia, for a year. This blog is about several topics. "CSJMM-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management in Tbilisi, Georgia. "USC-Journalism" is about the students, faculty and staff members of the School of Journalism and Mass Communications (SJMC) at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC. CSJMM and SJMC are recipients of a "Journalism School Partnership" program grant from the US Department of State. The purpose of this $750,000 grant is to improve CSJMM and ensure its sustainability. "Tbilisi, Georgia" is about Susanna Melo and my experiences in Tbilisi. "Columbia, SC" will be about our experiences in our home town--Columbia--when we return home. "Georgia" is about Susanna and my experiences when we travel in Georgia outside of Tbilisi. "United States" is about our experiences traveling in the US. "Films and Photography" is about two documentary films I'm working on in Georgia. One story follows how Adishi handles the rapid tourism that is being developed in Svaneti. The other story follows Tamaz Jalagania, who is a craftsman of swords and guns, an opera singer, and an extraordinary storyteller. "Scholarship" is about my current books, articles, reviews, and grants.

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