Republic of Georgia delegates visit NIU

Published: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 5:58 p.m.CDT • Updated: Tuesday, March 23, 2010 6:56 p.m.CDT

Six Georgian leaders participating in the Open World Program visited the Northern Illinois University March 10 as part of their mission to examine ways to improve academic and research standards in Georgia.

Hosted by the Council of International Programs Chicago, the study visit was managed by the independent Open World Leadership Center at the Library of Congress.

NIU was one of the several private and public universities and colleges the delegates visited. They also visited the Higher Learning Commission and the Chicago Council on Global Affairs and discussed with professionals strategies to enhance academic standards, particularly in the areas of research, publication and instruction.

They reviewed innovative programs and leadership initiatives that have helped higher education institutions in Illinois maintain academic excellence and stay at the forefront of educational innovation and administration, according to a recent news release.

The visiting delegates were Giorgi Khishtovani, vice chairperson for the Department of Economics and Business Administration at Tbilisi State University; Giorgi Kldiashvili, lecturer and doctoral candidate in American Studies at TSU; Lela Ksovreli, director of Undergraduate Admissions at Caucasus University; Giorgi Liluashvili, head of the Foreign Affairs office at Ilia Chavchavadze State University and Levan Tsagareli, assistant professor at ICSU. Sophie Bzishvili from Tibilisi accompanied them as a facilitator.

“I really enjoyed meeting the delegation members; it was a wonderful group,” Debora Pierce, associate provost of international studies at NIU, said in the release after several NIU professionals from various departments met with the visiting delegates. “I know my colleagues enjoyed talking with them, as well. The Georgians asked great questions and were so engaged. It was a good internationalizing experience for my colleagues, and emphasized for me once again how important it is for us to reach across borders.”

While in Illinois, the delegates stayed with host families, which allowed the delegates experience American family life. They also took part in several cultural and community activities, including visits to the museums and cultural centers and ethnic dinners.

The Open World Leadership Center awarded this grant to the Council of International Programs USA, headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio, to administer this and similar exchanges in 2010.

The U.S. Congress established Open World in 1999 to enhance understanding and capabilities for cooperation between the United States and Russia. In 2003, Congress made all post-Soviet states eligible for the program. Thanks to Open World, the release said, some 14,000 current and future Eurasian leaders have experienced American civil society and have been exposed to new ideas and practices that they can adapt for use in their own work. Open World also promotes partnerships and continued communications between delegates and their American hosts and professional counterparts. Open World currently operates exchanges for political and civic leaders from Russia, Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan.

CIP Chicago offers various volunteer opportunities for area residents that involve direct interaction and cultural exchange with the visiting international professionals. Countries represented by other CIP participants currently in Chicagoland include Ethiopia, Germany, Korea and Spain. Additional information on the volunteer and partnership opportunities is available by contacting George Palamattam, executive director of CIP Chicago, at 630-359 3393 or gp@cipchicago.org.

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