Catherine Philpott in Kutaisi

From April 22 to May 21 Catherine Philpott, a member of the Newport-Kutaisi Association was visiting our city on the invitation of the Kutaisi-Newport International Association.

Dr. Philpot’s schedule was undoubtedly tight. She participated in various activities which began with the students and pupils conference on “British, American and Georgian Studies” organized by the English Studies Department and ETAG.

Her high assessment of the presentations encouraged the students for the further research work. C. Philpot’s lectures were a great help for the students to make them feel self-confident and overcome the language barrier. Her seminars to the staff introduced the up to date methods of language teaching. She gave valuable instructions for compiling the Georgian Language Manual For Foreigners.

Our dear guest assisted in teaching English at the Arts Lycee and St. Nino High School. She made a wonderful speech at the celebration devoted to the 150 Anniversary of St. Nino High School.

C. Philpott also attended different events including the local holiday “Maisoba”. Performances at the Opera, Drama Theatres, Folklore Palace. There were meetings with the Mayor of Kutaisi Badri Melkadze and Kutaisi University Rector Avtandil Nikoleishvili.

The Ambassador of Great Britain in Georgia Mr. Jenkins came to find Catherine Philpott at work with us and the twinning kinks so firm and steady.

Catherine still managed to visit some parts of Georgia and enjoyed her free time.

Before leaving she made a farewell speech…

Dear Catherine

We loved the days with you, the strolls in the streets, talks with you in private or in
public. We thank you for your great help, your cordiality, your genuine feelings, your
amazing humour

Come again





What can I do to please you? What indeed? Because it is what I want to do tonight. I have lived alongside you – laughed, played, sang, danced, have got to know you in some way, I feel part of you. I feel it is ‘we’ and not ‘you’.

I have been readily absorbed into your life and I will never look at the map of Georgia, see the city if Kutaisi marked and think that that is a country far away – a foreign land. In my heart it is becoming my second home. I have visited many countries but have always been traveling through marveling, but always ready to return home.

Where can I begin in paying tribute to the many people I have met in the past month.

Firstly I pay tribute to each individual, your families – your grandparents, your parents,
brothers and sisters and the little ones – whose future we hold. This future we are to be concerned with. It is they that are to be the strength of Georgia and great attention must be paid to them. I thank you all for your warmth and generous hospitality, your readiness to open up your hearts and homes.

To the University in Kutaisi I pay tribute. Mr. Rector and Governing Body, again I must express my overwhelming gratitude for the honour you have bestowed upon me of Honorary Professorship. I will try very hard to live up to this great accolade. Thank you.

I can not express adequately my appreciation of Madonna Megrelishvili whose enthusiasm and welcome has been so great. I acknowledge the work and effort she has put in, in organizing a programmed that filled every single hour of every single day of this past month. It certainly took great thought and administrative power and it must be remembered that for some part of this time she was so unwell.

She gave me the opportunity of not only meeting with students but traveling out to see some of the most wonderful parts of regions of Georgia – a unique experience.

Her staff – I was accompanied every inch of the way – we wandered the city talking and
gazing – the picnic, the views, the river, the people, the shops, fountains, the cable car, the devils wheel!

Great fun – so it is not been all hard work.

The students – how I shall miss them. They were warm, generous, bright intelligent young people who are on the threshold of their lives. We must support them all we can so that they will look forward to a bright future, one that will take Georgia through the next millennium. They carry a burden of uncertainty of the changes that will come to them and society.

I had too the great pleasure once again visiting schools and making my reacquaintance with staff members who work so hard.

To be involved with St. Nino’s celebrations was wonderful and I shall take back the memories of the pupils, their puppets and the verve and energy of their concert, I will not forget their bright little faces.

Now to the Association, without this organization I would not be here. It is unique and it is increasingly recognized at home in Britain as being a model example from which other cities and towns can learn.

We look forward to its continuing success and that an even wider number of our citizens will be involved and benefit. And here I must mention the role played by, again, Madonna Megrelishvili and that of Rosemary Butler. Two extremely determined, energetic women who are so influential in our lives.

Their contribution to the whole Twinning Project can never ever be underestimated. On behalf of all members here in Kutaisi and in Newport I thank you Madonna and remember here Rosemary.

Finally to all the people in Kutaisi led by your Mayor Mr. Badri Melkadze – I thank him for the great welcome he gave me, the time set aside to discuss Twinning Association matters. Time, I know that was precious and he could ill afford. Newport looks forward to greeting him and his delegation at our celebrations next year.

I cannot finish without making reference to the wonderful musicians, singers and artists
that I have met and seen perform.

At times it brought tears to the eyes. I can only promise that a full account will be given by me when I return home and who knows many of them hopefully I will meet and hear again.

Thank you for them!

Lastly I am finishing where I began with individuals. I want to say a special thank you to the Mandaria family – Maggie, Illia, Miranad and David who have been so kind, such fun and making their home mine for a month. And to Tsitsino Babukhadia who has so kindly given us this evening to spend together.




I arrived in Tbilisi late on wed evening, April 22nd and was greeted by Vakhtang Okreshidze and Nino Nijaradze who took me to the apartment of Marina Parulava and her mother Medea Amiranashvili, Director of Kutaisi Opera Company. Medea, I was to meet on several occasions once I had arrived in Kutaisi.

Next morning drove, in pouring rain, through the busy, tree-lined streets of Tbilisi, past
the Turkish baths, the churches, the old traditional houses and the sites of new development – it was but a fleeting impression. Finally we were out on the road heading for Kutaisi. This was approximately a 4 hour drive, arriving at the apartment of my good friends, Ilia and Maggie Mandaria, with whom I was to spand the next few weeks. On the Pavement, waiting, were the smiling faces of Professor Madonna Megrelishvili and Maka Melkhadze – what a
welcome – it was overwhelming!



Each afternoon, for the first four days, I attended the Conference of British, American and Georgian Studies. This event is where students of the English Studies Department present papers comparing and contrasting the life and times, social, political, historical and cultural aspects of Britain, America or Georgia.

The papers are the result of extensive reading, research and thought. Having had the experience of attending this Conference two years ago, it was immediately evident to me that the students are raising standards in being better prepared, better informed and more confident in delivery. Access to greatly improved resource material, newer books, the internet and a broader TV news coverage. The students are becoming more aware of events on the world stage – events beyond Georgia.

The question and answer sessions that followed each paper proved to be lively and at times exciting – the students were more than prepared to stand up for their beliefs giving different slants on views that had been presented from the platform. Papers of a controversial nature produced the greater reaction – the students are thinking for themselves. Excellent progress.

Senior pupils of St Nino’s High School, Arts Lycee, Physics-Mathematics Gymnasium and
Schools No 1, 2, 9 & 40 followed the University students. Although it is good experience for these young students many found it difficult. It is not easy to deliver a paper to a large, older audience. Perhaps the effort and energy put into memorising contents of whole papers could be dispensed with and simply for them to read out clearly and with understanding, would make it easier on the students.

Overall these days proved to be most rewarding and it became for me a good introduction to the students and University life.

Students English Department KSU

I had a weekly timetable of morning classes covering all five years of the Department. The primary aim was to encourage discussion. There was a wide range of ability but once the initial introductions had been made even the weaker students were more, than prepared to participate in these 1 hour classes. They took the form of debate with the aim of developing clear cases for argument. Four voluntaries prepared the topic to be presented the following week.

These sessions were hugely enjoyed and it was difficult for them not to overrun the time. It gave an opportunity for expression of ideas/concepts through the medium of English, using idiomatic terminology.

Yr. 5, being the final year, approaching the last teaching qualifying term preferred discussing aspects of teaching techniques, resource gathering, discipline and classroom
management, ideas for display, etc.

Opportunity to meet with student groups in other areas occurred: During a question and answer session in the English Speaking Club which was most ably chaired by one of the students. A presentation of certificates for those attending the Conference was made. On the occasion of the visit by His Excellency the British Ambassador – I outlined the work of KNTA and presented teaching material to the Department and part of Newport’s grant to Patti Jinjikhadze for her continuing studies in music.


English Dept Staff of KSU: Discussion on the need for schools to consider the importance of creating an interesting learning development. To encourage subject teachers to promote their areas of study through display of resource material and the best work of their pupils. This leading to confidence building, self promotion and developing critical skills. We discussed the changing world that the next competition and marketing.

I attended a valuable presentation given by members of the Department on aspects of teaching of English. I found I had to think very hard, I certainly was outclassed at times!

Teachers of English in Schools: Discussion concerning the teaching environment.

The criterion of a sense of community and responsibility in schools.

Demonstrated teaching resources to develop listening and writing skills. Each session initiated excellent discussion and many issues were raised. Hopes and fears, that we all have shared at some time or other were expressed.

School Classes: I attended a class of twelve Yr.11 pupils at the Arts Lycee. They were a bright, articulate group who were only too prepared to express their views. It was telling that this session lasted two hours – it appeared to be shorter.

Each pupil was able to demonstrate their ability in the use of English. I admired their concentration and stickability – Excellent. There followed a most interesting discussion
with the staff.

A language lesson with twenty-five Yr. 10 at St. Nino’s High School. As a bigger group it was difficult to give every student sufficient time to relax and use English. The attempted an exercise with varying degree of skill – some were excellent – some very nervous. Understandable, since most of the staff, together with their Headmaster were present! Here again there followed an excellent discussion with the staff.

History of Art Lecture: “ The Development of Landscape in Painting with reference to
Literature and Music of the Period”. Unfortunately it was difficult to black out the room and the poor students were subjected to a series of dreadful images projected on a screen that were meant to illustrate this talk. They were very patient and my only hope is that they managed to gain something out of the notes and essays I left behind and what I had to say. My sympathies were very much with my audience – my apologies!


It was most enjoyable making my second visit to this Art College with its Director Rezo Ramishvili to see the real progress made over the past two years. The raised standards of work and diverse areas of study now is quite evident. A Fashion Show of clothes designed, made a modelled by the students was quite remarkable. They showed designs, amongst others, based on traditional Georgian textile crafts – woven and embroidered – these being applied in the most innovative way, but using the vary latest shapes as seen in the fashion world today.


I had the opportunity of hearing and watching many concerts and performaces in music and drama – choral, opera, folk, dance, both professional, students and children. It is hard to compare each performer – they all excelled in their parricular discipline. It is much hoped that, in time the people of Newport will have the experience of witnessing the wonderful talent that exists in Kutaisi.


I was welcomed by Mr. Badri Melkadze in his Mayoral Office and had a most interesting talk. We covered the work of the NKTA, the valuable and practical links that had been put into place over the past few years. We look forward, very much to welcoming Mr. Melkadze and his delegation to Newport in the autumn of 1999 in order to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the singing of the twinning Agreement between Newport and Kutaisi.


My last evening was spent with many, many friends who I had met, some for the first time over the past month. It was a wonderful evening. I thank you all. The Tomada host, whose eloquence was without equal, my hostess Tsitsino Babukhadia, Madonna Megrelishvili and her staff who showed such generosity and all the guests – I must say that you helped me remember a wonderful night – the singing, the dancing, the music. It was lovely. Thank you.

Finally I cannot finish without expressing my gratitude to Maggie, Ilia, Miranda and David
Mandaria. They provided me with such a welcome. I became one of the family and shared in their day to day living – it was great fun. Thank you.

My leaving of Kutaisi was done in a truly grand style. I was driven by the Mayor’s car – it traveled smoothly and at speed covering the distance in record time. Nothing overtook us, each police check saluting as we passed!

An invitation from the British Ambassador to meet with a Junior Minister, Douglas Henderson MP responsible for European Affairs meant that I delayed my departure in order to attend the reception at the Metekhi Palace hotel. It meant that I was able to hand the written report on the work of NKTA to the Ambassador. (He had visited the University during my stay and had expressed a willingness to help, through the Association, in ways beneficial to Kutaisi. Possibly finding sources of funding for exchange travel, resources etc.). I was able to briefly outline our Welsh/Georgian links to the Minister who showed real interest and has since written a letter expressing his appreciation of our meeting.

I enjoyed wonderful hospitality in Tbilisi with Madonna Tkeshelashvili and her family for which I thank them. I had the opportunity of seeing this city properly for the first time.
The new buildings, the shops, theatres, the churches, the parks and the university. It is a lively, bustling, energetic place. It had the air of a city that feels that there are exciting times ahead.

I departed on Thursday 21st May after a month and two days of unforgettable experiences leaving me with such memories of warmth and generosity that had been shown to me by all our friends in Kutaisi and beyond.

In the now famous words – I’LL BE BACK!