The school the children from SOS Children's Village Tbilisi attend recently organised a literary competition dedicated to famous Georgian writer Ilia Chavchavadze. The task was to write an essay on the topic "If Ilia Chavchavadze was alive..."
After reading the announcement on the bulletin board, 14-year-old Mary told her SOS mother that she was considering entering the competition. "My [SOS] mum immediately supported me and encouraged me to participate," explains Mary. "But, I hesitated..."
Mary, a real book worm, has been writing ever since she learned the alphabet! She always got the highest marks for her compositions and essays, yet she constantly doubted the quality of her writing. In addition, she felt under pressure because of the challenge of the task.
"Ilia Chavchavadze is not only the greatest Georgian writer, but he is also one of the founding fathers of modern Georgia," explains Mary. "He was a popular public figure, a benefactor and leader who was loved by all Georgians. He was a passionate patriot and esteemed philosopher. Also, he was canonized as Saint Ilia the Righteous by the [Georgian Orthodox] church."
Children "cooking" at SOS Children's Village Tbilisi
Mary says that she felt so strongly about the legacy of Ilia Chavchavadze, that she was scared to write about the designated topic. "I considered the competition to be a civil duty, paying back society, if you see what I mean. I wondered whether I dared to be involved in it." She continues: "But I decided to take my [SOS] mum's advice and give it a shot."
Mary wrote with love and passion. "While writing I had mixed feelings of anxiety and pride. At moments I felt sad, then optimistic about the future. I let my feelings flow and I put everything on paper. I literally brought my feelings to life in my text. It was a very important emotional experience for me."
After finishing her text, Mary felt a wave of confidence, which quickly vanished. "When I saw how many children had entered, I was lost for words," recalls Mary. "I thought I would never stand a chance of winning, or even being among the top five."
Mary's SOS mother tried to encourage her again. "My mum read my text before I submitted it and loved every word. She told me that even if I didn't win, I should be proud with my work because Ilia, as he is commonly called by all Georgians, would be delighted with what I wrote."
A couple of weeks later, there was another announcement on the bulletin board. Mary approached cautiously. "My mouth was dry and I had butterflies in my stomach. I came closer and read the name of the winner. It was my name!" Mary's face brightened up with a big smile. Her eyes shone with pride.
Apart from the money that she won, Mary also received a certificate for being the author of the best composition. She treasures this piece of paper. "It gives me confidence and encouragement," says Mary. "It assures me that I can make it, but only if I try hard. I have to thank my [SOS] mum for encouraging me to try."
Mary learnt a lesson from the experience, which she is glad to share: "Apart from winning the competition, I learned to take risks and face challenges. I learned that the only way to succeed is to try. Sometimes you can fail, but you should try again and again. At the end of the day, nothing can beat that wonderful feeling of success."