Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

Lexi Spencer-Notabartolo Making an Impact as a Fulbright Student Fellow

Gamarjobat from the Republic of Georgia!

Clockwise Lexi Spencer-Notabartolo '07, Nini Dedalamazishvili, Sesili Verdzazde, Dato Shervashidze and Sandro Gabisonia (who is also one of the hosts of the TV show of a television debate show "Kedeli" ("the wall" in Georgian).

My time here has been a real testament to my Pitzer education, as I take on a variety of side projects in addition to my primary research on Georgian public opinion and NATO accession.

I taught a political geography course titled American Landmarks at a university here and served as an election monitor in the January 2008 snap Presidential elections. I have also been working with a domestic Georgian NGO on various projects relating to human rights as that is one area of interest for NATO in the reform process here. In the photo above, I appear with the participants in a television debate program where I acted as a "debate expert" and provided commentary.

The Tbilisi Union idea is something that came out of my actual Fulbright application. Since I am interested in how people form political opinions, I felt that having an active debate program for university students would be a good way to reinforce critical thinking skills. What I found was a large number of people with debate experience from high school (there is a high school society active here already), but no outlet in college. The Tbilisi Union (similar to the Cambridge or Oxford Unions) would be starting from scratch as far as support and infrastructure goes, but it is something that would really benefit students here and that people are really excited about. I have found my Georgian colleagues to be absolutely wonderful and really willing to give to this project. The goal is to create something new while being respectful of Georgian traditions and customs. It is certainly an exciting time to be here.