CHAIRMAN‘S REPORT 2004-2005
The Association (referred to in this report as the NKA) held five general meetings and the AGM during the year. As usual the dates of the meetings were decided at the AGM, and varied by days, to give as much notice as possible and hopefully to maximize the possibility of attendance by members who might have other evening commitments. Officers, according to agreed procedures, decide association business between general meetings particularly if immediate decisions are required. However the role of the general meetings is critical and as Chair I know I speak for other officers when I say that we value the advice and comments of members, especially on specific projects and in developing the work of the Association.
The Association’s journal, Ariel was published in July 2004, edition 8, and edition 9 in January 2005. The latter edition was produced in CD format and a copy sent to Kutaisi to allow local printing. Editions are widely circulated a readers questionnaire was included in Ariel 9 and responses are being analysed. Colour photographs together with a wide range of articles added to the appeal of the publication. Please continue to support the editorial board by submitting photos, articles or ideas/suggestions for future editions.
3. Georgian Studies Day in Newport
Undoubtedly one of the features of this year was the holding of the annual Georgian Studies Day at the campus of University of Wales Newport on November 16 2004. After much planning and arranging I am pleased to report that according to many participants, the Day was a great success. Whilst thanks are due to many individuals and organisations for making the Day a success, I would, in particular, like to thank UWN and the Newport and Gwent Chamber of Commerce for their sponsorship of the Day a full account of the Day can be read in Ariel 9.
4 Student Scholarships
The longstanding support given to the twinning project by University of Wales Newport has continued throughout this year, in particular under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Kutaisi Student Scholarship Programme. The M o U provides for a three-year programme and sets down the different roles of the three collaborating organisations, the University, the Newport Kutaisi Association and the Kutaisi Newport International Association (KNIA), in an open method for the selection and support of students from Kutaisi studying at UWN. David Megrelishvili was the first student to benefit from the MoU arrangement and is studying on the MBA course. After receiving a recommendation from the KNIA it was decided that the Association would continue to support David in his second year.
Everybody was pleased that Mariam Melkadze (Maka) successfully completed her studies at UWN in this year and in September received her Master of Arts Degree in Multimedia and Information Design. The happy event was reported, with glorious colour photos, in Ariel9. A video of the award ceremony was also obtained by the KNA.
The Association has now heard that Vitali Simsive has been nominated by the KNIA for the academic year 2005/6 and has applied to UWN for a place on the MSc in Information Technology Management
The National Eisteddfod was held in Newport in early August 2004 and the City Council invited several civic guests from Kutaisi. We were also pleased to invite Rezo Robakidze from the Kutaisi branch of the National Bank of Georgia, Natia Zvidadze, a senior lecture in the English Studies Department of Kutaisi State University and Levan Shengelia a composer and musician. The visit was a great success and the visitors managed not only to visit the Eisteddfod on several occasions but also to make some private visits to people and organisations in their fields of interest, see other parts of Wales and finally a visit to London before return home
6 ALDA mission to Georgia
The NKA has been in support of the establishment of a Local Democracy Agency (LDA) in Georgia for several years. The Association of Local Democracy Agencies (ALDA) arranged a second mission to Georgia in September/October 2004 and I represented the NKA on this mission. I also managed to spend a few days after the mission in Kutaisi with friends. A full report was given to subsequent meetings of NKA and an article appeared in Ariel 9. It was generally felt that the mission a was a success in continuing to establish contacts and carry out fact finding on local democracy issues in Georgia. From a NKA perspective, I believe that one of the outcomes, the decision to base any LDA in Georgia in Kutaisi was the most important. Discussions are continuing in an attempt to build up a suffiecient number of Europe local partners to enable the project to get of the ground. In particular the NKA would wish to see Newport City Council agreeing to become a local partner however some more work has to be done to show the possibilities of the LDA and its benefits to Georgia and any partners who might be involved.
7 Every Child UK
Newport Soroptomists International , which is affiliated to NKA, had approached EveryChild UK, a child aid agency working on pilot projects in Georgia. Catherine Philpott, Vice Chair of NKA and Sonia Fisher, NKA treasurer and a past president of Newport Soroptomists received an invitation to visit a particular project in Kutaisi concerned with the re- integration of children living in institutions back into family units. The work is being carried out by the Georgian Ministry of Education in consultation with Every Child UK The visit took place in April 2005 and a report was given to the NKA. Plans are being made for NKA to host a meeting in Newport on the projects work and how assistance can be made available to move the project on.
8 Lectures at Kutaisi State University
In 2003, the NKA had agreed to sponsor a Young Writers Award, an essay competition for young writers in Kutaisi to encourage self-expression. Several entries were received and it was decided to make some awards, which were taken to Kuatisi by myself in the visit referred to in 6. I also took a few modern novels for the use in the English Studies Department. Following an invatation by Professor Madonna Megrelishvili, Mike Singleton visited Kutiasi to give some lectures at the Department in particular using the books as references in encouraging individual writing by future participants in the Award competitions. He also took the opportunity to interview Vitali Simsive (see 4) and on return to meet with Geoff Edge to discuss the MoU (4)
The KNA continues to keep in close touch with the Bristol Tibilsi Association and the Newport Heidenheim Assocaition in exchanging news and ideas on twinning work
A display case featuring Georgian artefacts, documents and details of the NKA has been in the Museum and Art Gallery in John Frost Square since August 2001. The Association maintains a website at www.communigate.co.uk/newportkutaisita/index.phtml
and leaflets explaining our work and ideas are distributed. Some new members and contacts are developed through this activity. Plans are in progress to produce a portable information display which will be sited throughout the city to explain the work of the NKA and hopefully attract new members and interest in our work
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all officers and members for their involvement in the Association’s work this year. Any errors or omissions in this Report are my responsibility; please contact me so that they can be noted. I would also like to acknowledge the continuing political and financial support given to the NKA by Newport City Council.