Letters from ESD graduates
Alumni Association is Great News
I am currently living in New York. I have to work hard here to support my family back in Kutaisi. It is not easy to be alone in a new enviroment so far away from home. But you know when life gives you one more chance you shouldn’t miss it. When I arrived I had some problems with American English. However everyday practice makes me feel more confident about it now. The Alumni Association of the KSU English Studies Department is great news. Thank you very much indeed for not forgetting me. It will be nice to be in regular contact with the many friends I made at Kutaisi Teacher Training Institute (now university). Hopefully some of us will also be able to help the Department, our Alma Mater, financially so that it could continue achieveing great things.
I graduated many years ago but I still have very fond memories of my student years, the best and most enjoyable years of my life. I majored in English. In those days our language rooms were not so well technically equipped as they are now. We had no reference room, and our text books were terribly outdated. But fellow students, a friendly enviroment and teachers who were so helpful made student life unforgettable.
I was fortunate and priviliged to be taught by Madonna Megrelishvili, not by Professor Megrelishvili but just Madonna who was starting her teaching career. We were all greatly impressed by her knowledge, enthusiasm and a high level of commitment to teaching. She brought imaginative activities and a new communicative approach into our language classroom. She taught us to speak and to express our thoughts in the language we studied naturally, which was extremely difficult as we had no contact at all with native speakers. But it was not only the langauge that Madonna taught us. She taught us life itself. She was always very sincere and said what she thought. We would come to her for help and advice and she always helped us in big and small ways. It was so nice to see her rising from the chair with her familiar radiant smile to say Hello and How are you to me. Her support and encouragement were invaluable to me in my life and teaching career. I owe Madonna Megrelishvili a great debt of gratitude for all this and do hope very much that Madonna does not think of me as her worst student.
My best wishes to all teachers of the English Studies Department. Hope all is going on well for you and you look confidently to the future.
THE NEW CULTURE WAS DIFFICULT FOR ME AT FIRST
I came to the United States in 1999. I arrived on September 26 at John F. Kennedy Airport. I was just one person in a sea of humanity, lonely and scared. But immediately, the friendliness and openness of New Yorkers made me feel comfortable.
I came to America, to work on a Master’s degree and to earn some money. Fortunately, my good friend Lali Meskhi, from back home, helped me get a job. However the new culture was difficult for me at first. The environment, the food, the people, the clothes, traditions and customs – all were new and different. It is very exciting, but it can be difficult with your family and friends far, far away. Luckily, I found an American family that welcomed me into their home and into their hearts. I am part of their family and therefore now I have two families: one in Georgia and one here in the United States. My American family has done their best to make me feel at home on a personal level. They have also assisted me whenever possible through the difficulties and mazes that face a visitor to this great, big American world.
I am presently pursuing a Master’s in Liberal Studies at Kean University in New Jerey. The programmed examines great writers, philosophers and thinkers throughout the ages and integrates past and pres4ent to help and make us, ass students, think about how relevant historic issues remain so today. For example, we just finished reading Homer’s The Iliad and studied it from a traditional historic perspective. But that was just the beginning. I then examined how Homer’s treatment of women would be accepted in today’s society. As part of my presentation to my class, I also had to bring in personal insights about issues in Georgia and how they affected my understanding and appreciation of Homer’s work. And of course, since we are in America, I went out and saw movie after movie to gain another perspective of how we understand the Roman Empire. “Helen of Troy” and “The Odyssey” were the two movies I saw to finish my time with the Iliad. And of course, since the first movie is form 1955 and the second is from 1997, there are more issues to dissect as American culture has changed so much in the past half century. The most incredible part of this is that within one or two weeks, we move on to the next work.
But my time here is also filled with fun and new adventures. I have met several other friends from Georgia and we go out to New York City to see Broadway musicals and plays. We also go out to jazz clubs and to restaurants in Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a borough of New York City and has a very strong Georgian and Russian influence and population. When I told my American family that my dream was to visit Disney World, they arranged a vacation In Florida and we all went down to Mickey and Minnie. It is like a small dream world, where the cartoon characters are treated like real people. They greet you, march on parades and walk around the Magic Kingdom just like the tourists. This winter, I went with my family to the Berkshire Mountains in Massachusetts. They are all avid skiers and were starting the youngest one, who had just turned two years old. Then all of a sudden, they made me come outside and try it myself, Even though I had done it before, it was not a pretty sight. If there was anything near the slope, I managed to crash into it. But fortunately, I made it home in one piece.
Last week, I passed the exam to get my driver’s license. Now I am looking around for a car to buy. Often, I look at Ebay.com to see what cars are available. My American family often teases me when I keep looking at the Mercedes. When we drive down the street, they will say “Look Maka, there’s a nice one!” And of course it will be a twenty-year-old car that looks like it will fall apart the next time the wind blows. They are quite funny. And the two-year-old is the funniest. I think he believes I am his girlfriend. He likes to come find me when he watches TV and say “Come Maka! Come watch TV with Noah!”
So I am having quite an exciting time here in the United States. But as much as I appreciate what I have found here to learn in the past two years, I will never forget my home, my family and my friends. There are two things in this world that we as individuals have to say over: when we are born and we are two die. But while we are here, we do have control of our thoughts and memories.
And I will never forget my friends at Kutaisi State University and specifically in the English Department. Professor Madonna Megrelishvili, I want to thank you personally for the opportunity you gave me to teach at Kutaisi State University. You have given me wisdom and confidence. To all of my friends and colleagues, you are always in my thoughts and without you my adventures and my successes would not be possible. I am always indebted to you all and please accept my fond thoughts and love.
The University Opens the Door to Our Future
After completing a year in the American high school (Peerless, MT) I had to decide where to continue my further education. My choice fell on Kutaisi State University, because it is famous for its old traditions, high level of education, and interesting methods of teaching. For learning English and computers deeper KSU was the best place to join. Only here English is taught as it should be. Students have an excellent source of practising English in the English Speaking Club, where they frequently meet guests of honour from Great Britain and the United States. Guests share their experience about Georgia and answer our questions. The whole process of Learning English is based on the best British and American educations. And what is very important, it is accompanied with audio-cassettes which help students to improve their pronunciation and comprehension other language skills. KSU’s English Studies Department has contacts with universities in Great Britain, the USA, and many European countries. The students have an opportunity to practice language in a native speaking enviroment, to share cultural experience, and to travel abroad.
As soon as I enrolled in the university I got into a very friendly enviroment. I was welcomed by my new teachers and faculty. I made many new friends and I enjoy learning computers and English together with them. The university’s library offeres a great choice of art, scientific and historical books . During the first semester I spent much time in the library, studying for my exams. Now, that they are behind, I go there to read British and American classics or to learn about news in Information Technology. My friends and I usually discuss new issues of computer magazines and articles about new software and hardware.
Our university opens the door to our future. There are a lot of interesting things ahead of us and I look forward to new exciting and useful learning experience.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Alumni Association of the English Studies Derpartment for paying my tuition fee.
I LIKE THE JOB AND STUDIES I AM DOING
Some months have passed since I was awarded my Bachelor’s degree and was qualified as a teacher of English. Last spring when I was just making plans how and where to start exploring employment opportunities, Professor Madonna Megrelishvili, Head of the English Studies Department, offered me a job of a department assistant. I felt very honoured. It was not just a good luck, it was like a lifetime dream which all of a sudden came true.
So, on the first of September 2001, in my first year after graduating, I became the youngest member of the staff of the oldest and biggest department in Kutaisi State University which is very challenging place to work to a recent graduate.
As one of the department assistants I have to do a wide range of duties like operating the computer, answering and making telephone calls, etc. But it is nothing compared with what else I have to do. The most astonishing thing is that I am also a University teacher! I teach English to first-year students of IT, who are only a couple of years, my junior. I just can’t convey how challenging it is to enter a classroom full of students who are eager to learn and who look somewhat skeptically at the teacher who is nearly their age. I realize that I must not disappoint them and do my best to prove that I know my stuff and love to teach it. The things I learnt at KSU and now take into the classroom are very instrumental and useful. I try to find activities that even less academically able ones could feel good about themselves.
The support and encouragement of the head of the department and experienced teachers are invaluable.
Besides teaching I am doing my Master’s Degree in English. It’s very interesting course providing us with the opportunity to take a very deep insight into the theory of the language and literature. It’s hard to combine work and study but I don’t complain. I feel that teaching is very rewarding and I am fortunate to love the job and study I am doing. Of course I miss the social side of being a student but I keep in touch with my former fellow students, we often meet and have a nice time.
My friends and I are members of the KNIA.
I’ll never forget how I first spoke to a guest from Newport. It was after an ESC meeting when one of the guests came up to me and asked me about the cross I was wearing; it was the Bolnisi Cross, a copy of the first Georgian cross. When I saw him coming up to me, I stiffened all over and nearly lost my tongue _ I was a freshman and I had to speak to a foreigner! But somehow I calmed down, pulled myself together and explained to him the meaning and symbols of the cross, which he admired greatly. I was delighted to see how guests from Britain are interested in Georgian culture. That was my first experience of speaking English to a native speaker.
Now I must admit that I feel much more confident when I talk to our guests from Newport and other English speaking countries. It’s great that our town is twinned to Newport. Love to all our friends in Newport.
The Most Important Part of My Life
My name is Ercan Bayrakci, I am from Turkey, I have been living in Georgia for three years.
It has been a wonderful chance for me to come here; I hope I will have another one like that in the future… Who knows? Yesterday’s dreams are today’s realities or when there is a will there is a way for three years ago it was also my dream to come over to this country.
I have seen and learned a lot about Georgia and its people during my studying. Here everything is great in this city, all the teachers who deal with me, host families, the staff of Kutaisi State University.
Their kindness and hospitality impressed me very much; I hope I could express my feelings. But there are some feelings that cannot find words to express oneself.
During my stay in Kutaisi, I always feel at home because of the hospitality of the people in this city.
Thanks again for everything and to everybody. It will be a everlasting memory for me.
The best of everything to all of you…
To the teachers, the staff of Kutaisi State University, to all the people who live in Kutaisi and all Georgian nation.
I wish the distance between two countries were not so far in order that we might understand and learn much about each other.
Anyway, the people can do their best.
Good luck to all of you. God bless you and your nice country. Be in peace. If you happen to be in my country I will be very happy to host you.
With all best wishes…