Thursday, September 16, 2010

School is in session

Well, I’ve officially started teaching! So far school is totally unorganized and chaotic but really fun and enjoyable. While most of my students have a very, very minimal understanding of English, they were all curious to get to know me and ask me questions. Part of the TLG program includes not only exposing Georgians to English, but also sharing with them my American culture. One of my sixth graders asked me to talk about the education system of America. (He asked the question in Georgian). Due to the fact that the class’s English comprehension is so minimal, all I really got to say was “we have big schools”. Thrilling information.

Ducks in a row in Samtredia
 Most of the students questions centered on Halloween, my taste in music and what types of Georgian dishes I liked to eat most. A quirky student even asked me, “Do Americans think Michael Jackson is really dead?” I kid you not. The tenth grade class was even so excited I was there, that both the French and German classes were cancelled for the day so they could sit in on my tenth grade Q&A session. All three of the other English teachers at the school are really sweet and I’m excited to get to know them all better.

My street!

I’ve already gone for walks and tea with one of the English teachers. Her name is Nino and she is also twenty two, just like me. Nino was really excited when I came to teach at the school because she’s never gotten to know a native English speaker. When I had tea with Nino and Khatia, a friend of hers, the two girls asked me lots of questions about American culture and we got into a great discussion about gender roles in Georgia versus in America.
Tea with Khatia and Nino
 I love Georgia, but I am having a bit of difficulty adjusting to how rigidly traditionalism dictates how people live their lives here. I think one of the things I love most about being American is that ‘do-what-you-please-as-long-as-it-makes-you-happy’ attitude about life. This attitude does not seem to be present in my Georgian town at least. Here, people seem too concerned with what their neighbors might say about even the most insignificant things. In Samtredia, it’s frowned upon for a group of woman to go to a café by themselves, drive a car or date someone without the intention of marriage. (This town could use a few equalists if you ask me). Nonetheless, there is nothing wrong with life here, it’s just different from what I’m used to. Meeting people who share different ideas about life has always helped me to not only become a more open-minded, worldly person but to also confirm (or modify) my own values and I’m so thankful for that.

I even had a discussion about expressionism versus traditionalism with my host mom (in Russian, mind you!) That was a project and a half. It’s more like me speaking Russian while playing charades just in case. (I swear, all 92 of us TLG participants could play a mean game of charades).
My home in Samtredia!

But anyways, amidst all these serious talks I’ve had, I’ve also found time to become best friends with the employees at the Geocell internet store in town. Melissa and I have been going there to test out these internet stick things (pardon my lacking in computer jargon) and have already been getting chummy with several of the employees but today really sealed the deal. How it works is one of employees speaks to me in Russian and Computer (for me, Computer is its own language) and then I tell Melissa what was said in Russian and she explains to me what was said in Computer. It’s probably a lot like telephone except at the end of the game you have to sign a contract.

The employee that we were speaking with was named Lasha and I said to him, “Lasha! What a good name for a dog”. I proceeded to act out calling a dog named Lasha to eat some kasha (which Lasha did not at first find funny) to which every other employee at Geocell almost died laughing at. We were soon asked to go on a family vacation by none other than Lasha’s mother. Oh hilarity.
Ducks in the sewer

It’s also been funny to see my students wandering around town. Tonight I saw a few of my twelfth graders waddling around (after drinking a bit too much wine) and they all said someone along the lines of, “Hello! I love you!” All my students seem so full of life and charisma that I think it will be a real treat to teach them. Let’s just hope I don’t catch them waddling like this the night before exams!

Melissa and her host brother Koko (isn't he adorable)

Melissa's street after the rain

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