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My first steps to integration with the OSCE

By Salome Modebadze
Friday, June 4
On May 10 I wrote an article in The Messenger about the Interim Report No1 which summarised the reports of the Election Observation Mission (EOM) in Georgia, prepared by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The next day I received an offer to become an Interpreter/Assistant for the international observers. I must confess this offer was really unexpected, and at first I doubted whether I had heard the man on the phone correctly, so I asked him to send me a text message containing all the relevant details. The message said that I had an interview in a couple of days with the OSCE team.

This is a very long story with a wonderful happy ending, which I hope will become the beginning of a career as an observer. I really gained a great deal of experience, not only of the election process but dealing with the foreign guests I’m now so proud to call my friends.

I was excited after my first interview – I kept it secret, although it was really hard for a young reporter to behave like an experienced journalist. I told myself I would not make any predictions before I was accepted by the OSCE. I didn’t actually expect I would be so lucky as to get another call telling me I was on board.

Being part of the OSCE was a big thing for me because I’m so fond of having new experiences and eager to become a success. So I was pleased to take on the responsibility of my new post. My first meeting, with Nicolas Patakias, the First Counsellor and Head of the OSCE Section, and Katharine Zambon, Associate of the Election Initiatives PEW Charitable Trusts Centre of the United States was really friendly because the barrier between these luminaries and a cub reporter with a Bachelor’s Degree in interpreting was broken. The very tiring election days in Tbilisi were spent in a wonderful atmosphere because the two observers were serious but cheerful.

The elections on May 30 were fair, at least at our Precinct Election Commission, I’m absolutely sure – I spent the whole night at School No 151 and fully familiarised myself with the election process. The day after the elections was my last working day and I felt really sad.

I asked Kat and Nicolas to write something about their first visit to Georgia and here are their notes, as recorded in my special diary. “Georgia is a beautiful country and I really enjoyed wandering round it with Salome. The culture and history here are so rich and the people have been very friendly. Salome could not have been a better interpreter and tour guide. She made me feel very comfortable here. I really like the fact that there are several places near Tbilisi to walk around outside in and the river is beautiful as well,” Kat wrote, promising she would stay in touch because I would really miss her cheering smile.

Nicolas was different to my other friends, who never do things like writing in a girl’s diary, saying that they are too stupid for a grown-up girl like me. I very much appreciate each such so–called foolishness because they always make me smile after tears. “I think that it is natural for a nice country like Georgia to have nice people like Salome in it. I was lucky to come here and get to know a little bit of this multi-faceted country, the nature, the buildings, and the churches and the ever-present music. Salome was not just an interpreter, she was very instrumental in opening a window to the Georgian environment, history and culture for us. Way to go!!!” – TBILISI/31.05.2010

P.S. This essay is just a simple way of expressing my respect and kind regards to my two wonderful friends who will always stay in my memory (AND I will see them again!).