“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
15 Georgian scientists working in world’s leading laboratories and universities
In the European Council for Nuclear Research, in the laboratory of CERN, where thousands of scientists are trying to discover the secret of world’s creation, Georgian scientists have been working successfully for years already.
Famous Georgian pianist Khatia Buniatishvili captured with Orlando Bloom in Paris
Khatia Buniatishvili, renowned Georgian pianist and Orlando Bloom, a world-famous actor and Miranda Kerr's ex-husband, have been captured together by paparazzi in Paris.
Mtkvari River surroundings to be arranged with greenery and floating terraces
Turning the Mtkvari River into a recreational zone is one part of Tbilisi's development strategy.
Tbilisi to turn into a Green City
Tbilisi City Hall has developed an action plan to improve ecological conditions in the city.
Around 100 electric vehicle charging stations to be set up in Georgia this year
By the end of 2017, up to 100 charging stations for the electric cars will be installed throughout Georgia.
Special places for dog walking will be arranged in Tbilisi
Special places for dog walking will be arranged in certain parks and squares in Tbilisi.
Georgian scientist examining latest methods of cancer treatment in the U.S.
A young Georgian scientist is working on the latest methods of cancer treatment in the University of Pennsylvania in the U.S.
   First private observatory to open in Bazaleti soon
The first private observatory is being constructed in Bazaleti, Georgia.
Tramway or over-ground metro to connect Tbilisi and Rustavi
Tbilisi and Rustavi may be interconnected by tramway or over-ground metro,
24-year-old Georgian researcher to lead blockchain technology research center in China
Tamar Menteshashvili is a researcher at the Jiao Tong University, in Shanghai, China.
Disaster that changed the life of Tbilisi - 2 years from June 13 flood
21 people dead and 2 still missing, dozens of animals drowned or killed by police as they roamed the city streets and more than 200 families’ properties damaged
Tram restoration project ready and will cost 130 million euros
'There will be the time when the tram project is highly required' - Tbilisi Mayor Davit Narmania has told InterPressNews agency.
‘Rustavi 2’ TV Director General resigns
‘Rustavi 2’ TV Director General Nika Gvaramia has left office. The TV Company has confirmed this information.
Georgian Airways Launches Tbilisi-London Flights
From now Tbilisi and London are linked with a new direct flight by Georgian Airways.
Georgian student gets $250 000 scholarship from University of Pennsylvania
Georgian student, Meri Kavtelishvili, who this year graduated from the Komarov School with Gold Medal, has been admitted by four leading universities
“Georgian Association of Social Workers” to present winning projects of CSOs for improved child and family services
The Georgian Association of Social Workers will hold a press-conference on June 2nd, 11:00 to present the winning projects of Georgian CSOs
Georgian student who paints with bacteria earns third place at Microbiology Art Contest
Georgian student of veterinary department, who is famous for creating artworks using bacteria
Patriarch to Georgian emigrants: “I urge you to stay where you are, but at the same time be in your homeland”
The Catholicos-Patriarch of All Georgia, Ilia II addressed Georgian emigrants attending the Diaspora Forum taking place in Tbilisi,
May 17: Anti-Homophobia and Family Purity Day events take place simultaneously in Georgia
May 17th features two different events: one part of the society marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) in Georgia
76 years together – Adjarian couple and their 162 descendants
In the village of Garetke, in Adjara’s Merisi gorge, there live 94-year-old Zekie and 95-year-old Hasan Turmanidzes,
Bicycle Lanes to Be Laid in Tbilisi
Tbilisi will soon boast its own cycle paths and infrastructure, enabling riders to safely navigate the city in specifically modified areas.
Culinary competition demonstrating US-Georgia friendship
On May 5th, 2017, USAID program REAP together with the Culinary Academy hosted an exciting culinary competition marking the 25th anniversary of Georgian and the US friendship.
Smart Kids - Winners of Millenium Innovations Award Visit NASA
The first prize winners of the Millenium Innovations Award, a team of 8th graders called Smart Kids from the Zugdidi
4.7-magnitude earthquake hits Georgia
A 4.7-magnitude quake has hit Georgia. According to the Seismic Monitoring Center, two underground quakes were observed
GEL Exchange Rate
Convertor
26.07.2017
27.07.2017
USD
1
USD
2.3987
2.3993
EUR
1
EUR
2.7945
2.7933
GBP
1
GBP
3.1243
3.1323
RUB
100
RUB
3.9995
4.0016
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Other Stories
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.
Wooden products are gaining popularity on Georgian market, including glasses, watches, bags, etc. A new item was added to that list recently – bows made of natural wood.
Georgian citizens will be able to enter the EU without a visa for short stays, under a new law passed by the Parliament on Thursday, - Official website of European Parliament reports.
The heavy fire has entirely destroyed the building of a trade centre Chidren’s World last night.
The world-famous American musician Moby expressed his support to Georgian rock band The Mins at the nearest Eurovision contest publicly.
GEL Exchange
USD
1
USD
2.3993
EUR
1
EUR
2.7933
GBP
1
GBP
3.1323
RUB
100
RUB
4.0016