Georgian Chevening Alumni met at a castle retreat in October 2015 outside Tbilisi to celebrate 20 years of the Chevening scheme in Georgia. Hosted by Alexandra Hall Hall, the UK ambassador, the gathering also marked 20 years of the UK Embassy being in Georgia. Two former UK ambassadors joined the group, including Stephen Nash who opened the UK Embassy in the Sheraton Hotel in 1995.

“The relationship between our two countries is going from strength to strength in so many areas. I am delighted that the UK-Georgia dialogue, known as the Wardrop Dialogue (in honour of Sir Oliver Wardrop – Britain’s first Chief Commissioner to Georgia in 1919-192) which we initiated last November, is further deepening our ties and continuing the history of a long and strong relationship between our countries. The Chevening Scholarship scheme in Georgia is another excellent example of the strength of UK-Georgia bilateral relations. We are happy to be able to support talented Georgian students to study in the UK’s top universities, and we have every confidence that these Chevening Scholars will greatly contribute to their country’s future development”, Ambassador Hall Hall said.

The alumni discussion, facilitated by Wilton Park’s Director of Programmes, Robin Hart, addressed Georgia’s future both domestically and beyond its borders, the UK-Georgian relationship, and specifically what they could do as an alumni group. The group recognised that with over 100 alumni, they are a powerful network with new friends, new ideas, and new opportunities, including how to strengthen their collaboration as alumni, using their network to broaden awareness about Chevening, encourage debate about Georgia’s future and provide support to the UK Embassy. Aiming to pilot some activities, the group want to see how they might develop an alumni association. They already have a Facebook group and invite all Georgian alumni to join.

The UK Embassy in Georgia will support the alumni group, producing a booklet for Chevening in Georgia as promotional material, including case studies, pictures, and quotes from alumni; and plan another half day meeting early next year to identify next steps to support alumni in 2016/2017. Perhaps a regional alumni event might be possible too?

The group engaged in some rich, off-the-record discussion, reminisced about their times in the UK over dinner, and enjoyed a true Georgian Supra of after-dinner toasts after being piped into the room by Donald MacLaren of MacLaren, bag-pipe playing former UK Ambassador.

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