For example, on Friday I went to a school volleyball game with three of my eleventh graders and they were all just so excited to hang out with me outside of school and use their newly learned English phrases.
|With my eleventh graders Manana and Teona|
Many of the towns and villages near Samtredia do not have a stadium, so several volleyball teams were actually there competing in a series of matches. It was a lot of fun to chat with my students and get the lowdown on the different schools. Manana, one of the girls I came with, had a friend on one of the other teams and she excitedly told him to “break a leg” before his game started. She was beaming while she explained the Georgian meaning of ‘break a leg’ to the confused boy.
Even cuter, when the boy ended up losing his game, Manana turned to me and said, “I think he has two good legs”. It took me a second to realize she was telling me that he had bad luck!
Our school happens to have a pretty good volleyball team so it was especially fun to watch them play. Most of the volleyball players are my students, so I actually knew which names to scream out loud after one of them made a particularly awesome spike.
I really loved the enormous amount of school pride at the little stadium. Everyone was chanting, “me tet-me-ti” (eleven; the number of my school) and screaming with joy after every individual point.
The coolest thing about my school’s volleyball team is that the two best players are girls. Many of the schools in Georgia have sports teams for boys only, but my school is different. My students told me that at our school it doesn’t matter if you’re a boy or a girl; if you’re good at volleyball, you’re good at volleyball. There were about four other volleyball teams at the tournament on Friday, but only our school had girls on the team. (Woo, equalism!)
|My school's co-ed volleyball team!|
There was one incredibly intense moment at the game when our school was neck-in-neck with their opponent and whoever would score the next point would win the match. (I was more nervous at this moment than I was watching the Yankees play the Phillies during Game Seven of the 2009 World Series). Manana even turned to me and said, “Oh Michelle, I have butterflies in my stomach!”
We sadly actually ended up losing the game. It was a pretty tragic loss considering that the game was interrupted twice because of fist fighting among the players. In the states, you have to go to a hockey game to watch the players fight, in Georgia, you can go to your local high school volleyball game to see people go at it. They even sell popcorn nearby for twenty-five tetri (about ten cents)! (Talk about a cheap date).
All in all though, the entire team was so excited to have me at the game. Parents and teachers don't usually go to the game, let alone stay for the entire length of the tournament (which in in this case was four hours). They told me I must go to every one of their games so it looks like I have a lot of volleyball to look forward to this month!
I guess this weekend was sport themed, because on Sunday all four of us Samtredia girls went to the newly government-funded football (soccer) stadium, to watch Samtredia’s football team play in the National league.
|Samtredia VS Dinamo (Tbilisi). We're the white team.|
Much to my shock, our team is actually third in the nation. (I guess since there isn’t that much to do in town there’s plenty of time to work on one’s soccer skills). Anyway, the stadium was completely packed. It was like a Samtredia I’d never seen. Hundreds of men and boys eating sunflower seeds just filled the place.
|The girls at the stadium. Count the women in the background...|
And Samtredia’s fans are quite passionate about their team. Even the slightest bad call from a referee put men in an outrage. Boys would climb the fence to throw things at Dinamo, the opposing team, and men screamed obscenities that happened to be omitted from the phrasebook TLG provided us.
|The fans going crazy after a bad call from the ref|
This game was especially exciting because we were playing Tbilisi! It’s kind of funny even that our wee little town could even be compared to Tbilisi. Nonetheless, we totally rocked it and beat Tbilisi 2-0.
Samtredia may not have all the glitz and glam of Tbilisi, but our boys and girls certainly know to hit a ball!