This young Georgian, studying Business and International Relations, is passionate about singing and Spanish culture.
“I’ve always had a huge passion for singing; it’s part of my life,” confesses Mariam Katsanashvili, her green eyes shining brightly with that same look we all have when talking about something we love. In her native country of Georgia, a natural border between Asia and Europe, music was always a part of her life, ever since she was a young girl.
Anyone who listens to Mariam Katsanashvili sing songs by Beyoncé, Eva Cassidy, or Lara Fabian, can’t help but be moved by her voice. Mariam, who’s doing the Dual Degree in Business and International Relations, was born with a natural gift for singing. She remembers that everything started just four years ago, when she took her first music lessons. That time in her life was immensely important for her, studying at the choir school of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia, where she received a solid foundation in music theory and learned not just vocal harmony but also how to play two of her favorite instruments, the piano and the guitar. Although Mariam does not dedicate herself professionally to the art, her life is filled with music.
Photo by: Roberto Arribas
She could have become an opera singer—her elegant bearing and style recall that of a great singer—yet in spite of her talent, the genre was too narrow for her: “I wasn’t able to express myself fully,” and she decided not to continue with it. The international award she received in 2011 at an important music event in Lloret de Mar, Girona, attests to her musical ability. Her work as a volunteer and concern for the disadvantaged also stand out. She helped organize a charity concert in Georgia where high-profile Georgian singers performed, with the goal of raising money for children who suffer from leukemia. They donated part of the funds to a hospital, and the rest went towards purchasing books and toys for the children.
In love with Spain
Mariam Katsanashvili is now a young international student at the IE University campus in Segovia with aspirations of becoming a successful entrepreneur, but without leaving behind her desire to sing and share her voice with the world. Mariam Katsanashvili discovered IE University and Segovia in the summer of 2012, when the campus at Santa Cruz la Real held the first World Conference for International Baccalaureate students, attended by students from all over the world. “At that time I was really interested in coming to study here, and I was immediately fascinated by the Spanish culture and language,” she notes. Without a doubt, IE’s philosophy—human-centered learning that encourages entrepreneurship—definitely caught her attention.
Entrepreneurship is in Mariam Katsanashvili’s genes, passed down to her from her father, who is a role model for her on both a personal and professional basis. “I’m the type of person that always sets goals for myself. I always try to overcome any obstacle that comes in my way,” she says with conviction. She now wants to study marketing and enrich her knowledge by launching her own business in the near future. This young Georgian wants to set up a business similar to her father’s, a retail store, although her ultimate dream is to set up an international restaurant in her home country, where Spanish cuisine has gained a strong presence.
Mariam Katsanashvili loves Spain, and it’s impossible to not notice this when speaking with her. She has taken advantage of her three years in Spain to visit different cities and assures us that “Segovia is a wonderful city with unique charms; in every corner of the city there’s a piece of history.” Mariam Katsanashvili feels just like any other Segovian. She loves wandering around the city, shopping in traditional stores, visiting the markets, cafes, and bars and, most of all, she likes to go with her friends to eat tapas in the Plaza Mayor. “I love Spanish food,” she says with a wide smile.
One of her great passions is talking about her home country, which she misses. Georgia is always in her heart, and she thinks of it constantly. Every day, she talks to her parents on Skype or some other online platform, and stays informed of what’s going on in her country. A melting pot of different cultures on the edge of Europe and Asia, Georgia is perhaps less known compared to other countries on the border, such as Russia or Turkey. She tells us that people often confuse her country with the US state of Georgia. They couldn’t be more mistaken: Georgia has a rich culture with its own traditions and customs, which are completely different to those in the rest of Europe, and a world apart from US culture. “For instance, Georgia has a unique alphabet that’s only used there, which has the striking quality of not using capital letters,” she adds. If one can find any connection between Spain and Georgia, Mariam points out that it would be in their languages. Some scientific theories link the Basque language with Georgian, the mother tongue of 4 million people. “They say they have similar roots,” she notes. Mariam also speaks Russian and a little French, as well as speaking Spanish with ease—a subject she excels at academically—and English, the language in which her classes of Business and International Relations at IE University are taught.
Mariam is still devoted to music. She recently participated in the Humanitarian Gala organized by a group of IE University students, the profits of which went to various NGOs. That night many members of the audience were left stunned by the young Georgian’s voice. Although the chilly weather in Segovia didn’t help, her enchanting talent and voice warmed the spirit of the audience.