Home > International Travels > Georgian Exchange – Newport to Kutaisi (The return visit)

Georgian Exchange – Newport to Kutaisi (The return visit)


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Between July 24th July and 11th august, I was lucky enough to have been a member of a 23 strong delegation from Newport,  (YMCA led by Peter Landers) who had the opportunity to return visit the Kutaisi young people after their successful visit to Newport last summer. Newport and Kutaisi have been twinned for 23 years and have shared culture and experiences between the peoples from both cities during that time, but never has a group of young people from Newport/ UK visited in such numbers before. I was excited to be the first of what I hope is many exchanges between the two cities.

For those not knowing where Georgia is, it is in the Caucus Mountain region and borders Russia, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan seeing a very European with a hint of Middle Eastern feel. Kutaisi is the second biggest city in Georgia with the population of 194,000, and located over 200km west from the capital Tbilisi.

The first thing that I noticed after landing was Georgian driving, which is very different in comparison to the UK, and quite unsettling at first as it would seem quite dangerous. One quickly gets used to this, especially when travelling various places as we did. Most of the visit had resided within the Kutaisi city area, however there was some excursions to Batumi/ Sarpi (beach on Turkish border), Mestia and Ushguli (highest populated area in Europe) in the breath taking northern mountains, Prometheus Caves, Gelati Monastery, Stalin Museum (Gori) and Tbilisi and more. I can state we only experienced a flavour of all, there is much more things to see and most defiantly a reason to go back, that and to enjoy the amazing hospitality the Georgians are renown for.

In terms of the workshops (yes we did work) we found out the differences between our political systems and how to make changes in both. We toured the Georgian Parliament based in Kutaisi followed by a visit to the mayor of the city, who by surprise was the first exchange student from the city to study in Caerleon Campus back home in Newport, and  had previously worked in The Priory. The other workshops focussed on differences between the two cultures and how we as young ambassadors can improve things in both our cities/countries.

We also learnt how to Georgian dance and practise to perform in front of dignitaries and parents of the young people from Kutaisi. This had proved to be an amazing feet, though also saw me having remedial dance classes with my now “Georgian Brother” Sergi. The concert had been a success and showed the close bond rekindled from last summer between both groups of young people, with the addition of a few newbies on both sides.

When it was close to go home we had attended a Supra where it is a feast of mouth-watering food and toasts, where one is expected to down a glass of wine, and happen in 5-10 min intervals. Needless to say it was an interesting ride home back to the hostel. The Georgian food was truly delicious and a stark difference to the food we have back in the UK. We had the opportunity to try many types of bread, cheeses wraps and meats. One cannot describe how nice the food is without being able to try some in order to do it justice. I will defiantly be looking to acquire some recipe’s to try and make my own at home.

It brought a tear to my eye to leave after an incredible two weeks with inspirational young people who remain friends, rather than leaving I much preferred bye for now we shall see each other soon. We arrive back in Newport not as guests or hosts but of long lasting friends of which I will be pleased to be part of the Newport-Kutaisi association keeping our relationship strong between our friends and cities. No words can truly represent the out of this world experience we all had the amazing opportunity to be a part of, pictures and words are small reminisces of the trip but the mind blowing memories shall remain forever. I will defiantly return to visit my Georgian brothers and sisters and if you’re reading this, I thank you for such an amazing time and I thank the Newport YMCA and more specifically Peter Landers and Youth in Action for allowing me to participate.

Ushguli

Ushguli

Newport Street in Kutaisi marking the twinning of our cities

Newport Street in Kutaisi marking the twinning of our cities

Central Kutasi

Central Kutaisi

Me meeting the Deputy Speaker of the Georgian Parliament

Me meeting the Deputy Speaker of the Georgian Parliament

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  1. Kristine
    August 23, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Great! I’m very happy that you enjoyed Georgia!

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