“I think like a Georgian” – Ilyas Cilloglu on Identity, Education and Being Georgian
09 December, 2016
“I think like a Georgian” – Ilyas Cilloglu on Identity, Education and Being Georgian
An exclusive interview with the Rector of International Black Sea University.
“I was born in Turkey, but my family roots are Georgian,” he says, and goes on to list his Georgian genealogy all the way back to the great grandfather who first moved from Batumi to what was then still the Ottoman Empire. “To this day, my mother, eighty five years old now, speaks better Georgian than Turkish. So it’s not strange that I came here to study and build my career. And she was happy and proud to hear of my decision,” muses Ilyas Ciloglu, or as you may find him under his Georgian alias- Chilashvili, Rector of the International Black Sea University (IBSU) as he sits down with us for a friendly chat. We ended up discussing many an issue, ranging from his recollections of 90s Georgia to the intricate nuances of today’s education system.

When speaking of the former, he can’t hide his fondness. “When I came to Georgia, there was no electricity, no gas; it was a very difficult time. But what we found there and what I hold dear to this day is that wonderful aura of togetherness and honesty, this wonderful camaraderie. I’m still getting phone calls from some of my course-mates who are “homesick” about Georgia,” he chuckles.
geotv.ge
After wrapping up his Ph.D and quickly embarking on an academic pilgrimage to the USA, he came back to Georgia to settle down, “with my wife and three kids, I can say I’m happy here.”

As we are now and again interrupted by knocks on the door and calls on the phone, he takes a break to hail the IBSU’s non-bureaucracy approach a little. “Anybody can visit anybody here. Anytime. We’re open like that – students, professors, guests – they come and ask, and there is no barrier to reaching out. I think that’s very important.”

Going back to discussing the 1990s, he admits the changes have been massive. “Huge developments have been carried out – Georgia is really becoming a truly European country. To have witnessed Georgia’s change from, let’s put it fair and square, an incredibly corrupted country to one of the freer and most modern countries in this part of the world was incredible.”

Speaking of European values, he insists it’s the sector that he is employed in that makes the changes happen. “Education is key. It’s hugely important – to become a European and think like a
European, you should learn what this stands for. And here in IBSU we have programs in English and Georgian, and without any false modesty, students here get a high standard education to an extent that makes us different, and I myself have checked most of the curriculums. The difference between how they are taught here and in Europe is miniscule. We are getting a lot of positive feedback from European universities where some of our students continue to study; they’re impressed with our students’ knowledge and competence. We also have exchange programs for professors; we invite them here and send some of ours abroad, to share experiences.”

Another aspect that is bona fide European and perhaps not as widely accepted as it should be is the element of self-governance in universities. Mr. Ciloglu, however, puts great stock in this and as a result, IBSU boasts abundant amounts of student clubs and communities. “To help them learn to work as a team, to find a consensus and drive forward,” he announces, sagely.
geotv.ge
However, IBSU’s trademark was and remains instruction in the English language, which ranks among the very best in the region, including among universities of Turkey, becoming over the years a go-to place for those who want to study in English. Ciloglu himself thinks it’s a “low-risk, high rewards solution and it makes huge difference,” stressing the points, such as access to information and ability to better compete on the job market (a particular boon being that IBSU graduates aren’t required to show their TOEFL scores). The prospect of attracting foreign students is strategically important, too.

“Every foreign student that comes here to study and goes back home satisfied (and we do our best to make sure they are satisfied) is a voluntary ambassador of this country. They go home with huge love of Georgia, and in most cases, knowledge of the Georgian language, too. And many of them come back to invest here.”
But what catches the eye most in our conversation is his fervent approach to what it means to him to be a Georgian. “If you cut me, my blood is Georgian – I said it in one interview and they used it as a headline. I think in Georgian in my head. I’m not showing off, it’s a natural condition for me.” And as a father of three, he makes sure his children feel the same. “They are in an English language school and I transferred them to the Georgian language section. It’s important that you know Georgian if you want to live and work here, if you want to be a citizen of this country. Aside from very practical uses, I want my kids to grow up as Georgians, as well as Turkish. You’ve got to know your identity. And once again, this is not to show the world how hardcore I am; I think this is very normal, this is how things should be,” he announces solemnly.

We shake hands, each of us satisfied with how this turned out. With pleasantries exchanged, the Rector of the International Black Sea University goes back to his everyday busy schedule: running the country’s top rated English language academic facility requires gargantuan efforts from those responsible to keep it in the same high esteem it is held now.

Vazha Tavberidze
Source: Georgia Today
Print
Other Stories
Lika Kavzaradze's star to be opened in December
Great actress and most charming woman in Georgian cinematography Lika Kavzaradze's star will be opened in December,
A 23-year-old engineer from Georgia,whose idea was named the best in international Hackathon
Several days ago, 23-year-old Mikheil Kelenjeridze, together with his two partners, took part in the international Hackathon
Georgia has lost its beauty - Iconic Georgian actress Lika Kavzharadze passes away aged 57
Lika Kavzharadze (26 October 1959 – 11 October 2017) was a legendary Georgian film actress
Georgian beauty Lika Kavjaradze found dead at her apartment
Georgian beauty and famous actress Lika Kavjaradze has been found dead at her apartment, the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia reports.
Traffic banned at Tusheti road
Traffic movement has been banned due to avalanche threat and snow
Georgian Wine Festival 2017 – The event you should not miss
Georgian Wine Festival 2017 will be loaded with a variety of activities.
Traditional Tbilisoba festival held in the capital of Georgia
This weekend the capital of Georgia marked traditional Tbilisoba festival.
The renovated Monument in Gudauri to be opened on November 30
The full rehabilitation of the once Russia–Georgia Friendship Monument in Gudauri, mountainous resort of Georgia, will end on November 30.
Wizzair adds direct flights from Kutaisi to Prague, Paris and Barcelona
Hungarian airline Wizzair has added direct flights from Kutaisi to several European cities.
"We will definitely make Georgia get back on its feet” - Young Georgian inventor of the future aircraft
Giorgi Mchedlishvili, a 22-year-old Operations Research major at Columbia university's Engineering School,
Tbilisoba 2017 – Cultural events and fairs in the city
Tbilisoba is a favorite festival for Tbilisi residents.
First snow has fallen in Guria Region
The first snow has come in Guria, Georgia’s western region.
Vogue about Georgian designer’s collaboration with world’s leading fashion brands
Vogue publishes very interesting interview with Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia’s brother, Guram Gvasalia.
Georgian farmer ranked first place at Cheese Festival in Itlay
Young Georgian farmer from Tusheti has won International Cheese Festival in Italy.
British soldier captivated by Georgia
The man who I’m about to present to you is a British war veteran. He arrived in Georgia for the first time a month ago
24 years pass since the fall of Sokhumi
24 years have passed since Sokhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, fell in the hands of secessionist forces.
 Tearful photos shot 24 years ago – Families fleeing Abkhazia
Previously unknown photos, extremely touching and painful, taken exactly 24 years ago, have been published recently.
Traditional Fruit Festival to be held in Old Tbilisi
On October 8, traditional fruit festival will be held in the areas of Old Tbilisi in relation to Tbilisoba festival
Georgian dishes included in the restaurant of UK Parliament
The Week of the Georgian Cuisine was held in Great Britain, as a result of which the Georgian dishes were added to the permanent menu
Mini library opened in Nikozi Village, Georgia
A new library was opened in Nikozi Village, Gori municipality, Georgia.
Holy Parts of Georgia’s Queen Ketevan transferred to Holy Trinity Church
Holy Parts of the body of Georgia’s martyred Queen Ketevan have been transferred to the Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Georgian elderly couple reading Harry Potter before bedtime
An extremely heartwarming and amusing photo has gone viaral on social network.
Tea Ceremony to be held in the Japanese Garden in Tbilisi
The National Botanical Garden of Georgia and the Embassy of Japan in Georgia invites tea lovers to the Tea Ceremony.
First Georgian wine museum opens in China
Georgian wine museum named The Window to Georgia has been established in China.
Mini library to be opened in Nikozi Village, Georgia
The Equilibrium movement, Georgia’s Ministry of Culture and Monuments Protection and Anaklia Development Consortium will open a ‘Sqaure Library’
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
23.10.2017
24.10.2017
USD
1
USD
2.4864
2.4894
EUR
1
EUR
2.9344
2.9240
GBP
1
GBP
3.2753
3.2783
RUB
100
RUB
4.3213
4.3300
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
The Huffington Post, popular American news and opinion website, publishes an interview with young Georgian entrepreneurs
Georgian Wine Festival is yet another surprise for wine enthusiasts,especially Georgian wine lovers that one should not miss.
Street art is gaining more and more popularity in Georgia, like in many other countries throughout the world.
Last month nearly a million international travelers visited Georgia
Famous pop singer Rihanna who is a big fan of Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia,
Today Georgia marks the day of a highest significance in the country’s history.
So-called Night Wolves, Russian motorcycle club, has arrived at Vake Park.
In the frames of the media-program conducted by IREX and US Embassy to Georgia,
Ani Tsitsishvili is a 20-year-old student of Georgia’s Agricultural University veterinary department and she’s very fond of microbiology.
More and more Georgian alternative musical bands are emerging on the scene.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.4894
EUR
1
EUR
2.9240
GBP
1
GBP
3.2783
RUB
100
RUB
4.3300