When I first embarked on my academic journey, I could have hardly imagined, that one day I would end up in international education. But here I am and I can definitely state that this is the area, which is not only important or beneficial, but the one enabling me to contribute to making the world a better place to live.  I strongly believe in the power of education as not the pure transmission of knowledge but as a mechanism to build the world we all deserve and aspire to live in as human beings.


I am from the republic of Georgia, a small country in the Caucasus. As an educator, I first started my career at Non Formal Education Youth Center “Sunny House”, founded by several of my friends and me in a hope to give educational opportunities to youngsters who had potential but limited opportunities to prosper and achieve success. After several years of acting as a board member, project manager and trainer, I decided to continue my academic journey and was very fortunate to be awarded with a scholarship by Open Society Institute to pursue my graduate studies at Teachers College, Columbia University in 2006-2008.  I studied at the Department of International and Transcultural Studies, in the Program of International Educational Development.  Those sixteen months were one of the most amazing experiences in my life – I acquired knowledge, systematized my experience, developed new aspirations and visions, got the first glimpses of modern academic setting and, finally, met so many amazing people from all parts of the world.


After graduation, I returned to Georgia full of enthusiasm to apply the knowledge I and to contribute to the improvement of the system which was experiencing one of the most wide-scale and fast-developing reforms in educational sector so far. Subsequently I joined the National Examination Center, which was in charge of administering unified entrance examinations for higher education institutions. This was reputed to be one of the most ground-braking initiatives in the region, having eliminated corruption from the university admissions. I was a consultant in the research department, which apart from being an unofficial “brain” of the organization was in charge of administering international educational assessments PISA, PIRLS, TIMSS and TEDS-M. There I started another important stage of my professional and academic development as the first National Project Manager of PISA 2009 (Program of International Student Assessment).  Starting from the scratch, we translated, verified and adapted test instruments into Georgian, administered the study and created international and national reports in addition to working on other international studies at the center.


However, I came to learn that negative results are not always embraced wisely by the authorities and that positive yet critical feedback does not always prompt the actions needed to fix the problem.


Then I started another academic adventure here at CIE at UMass. I am lucky to be in the vibrant academic setting of CIE, supported again by the Open Society Institute to pursue my doctoral studies in the field of international education together with two other Georgian colleagues. I strongly hope that the time I spend here will give me the knowledge and qualifications essential to pursue my research interests in post-soviet countries, trying to analyze and understand the educational policies and contribute to improving the body of knowledge about this less-studied but immensely interesting and unique part of the world. I look forward to rewarding, challenging and academically productive years, which seems to be accompanied by caring, friendly and highly professional community of educators, the unique feature of CIE I’m starting to enjoy immensely.



Entrance Year: 
5-year span: 
Off-Campus Student