Archive for January, 2011

January 30, 2011

Some surroundings

Some more photos…

My host-father Amiran and his daughter-in-law (/host sister) Manana in front of what they told me was the president's home. But the president lives in Tbilisi, so I'm not really sure...

Amiran and Manana and Tamila shopping for a fur coat. Tamila speaks a bit of English so they brought her along to help me shop. I bought a turtle neck because I was not, apparently, dressed appropriately for the cold.

This is what I see from my bedroom window. Note the young mandarin trees growing (Dad).

This is my laundry. Basically all the clothes I brought to Georgia. Well, minus a few skirts. Clearly, way too many colors.

January 27, 2011

The photo version

Interesting thing happened–I found a cord in my family’s computer drawer and it seemed to fit my camera. It’s got a lot of tape on it…like maybe it was broken and reconnected at some point. It took a few tries and a lot of wiggling, but I got some photos. Enjoy.

This is what I see walking home from school into my driveway.

(L to R) My host mother, myself and co-English teacher in front of my school. Yeah, a pink coat in this culture was the wrong choice. But, let's face it, I'll stick out no matter what.

My host mother graciously allowed me to assist her while making the famed Georgian cheesybread- ketchapuri.

And this is the finished product. My host brother, Amiko, helped eat it.

January 25, 2011

Language Lessons

Let me just start by saying, for those of you who are visual people (I know, I know, that’s the entire Google generation) I have bad news. I lost my camera cable. And can’t imagine locating one in Sarkatvelo any time soon. Pictures for now are not going to happen. You can stop reading now (coughMelaniecough).

But I’m going to post anyhow, because I know my grandparents still love the written word (!!) and I am soon going to forget how to form complete sentences in English if I don’t at least talk to myself/the internet world. Here goes.

From what I’ve gathered, in the Georgian language, when you want to express how you feel about something—a food, a person, a country, a shot of Russian cognac—you have two options:

1. Me miqvars. – I love it.

2. Me ar miqvars. – I don’t love it.

Now, obviously, I know about 12 phrases total in this language, so please take that into consideration as you weigh my sweeping generalizations. But in our brief Georgian classes, our desire to use other adjectives/verbs—“like” primarily—was met with complete dissuasion from our Georgian teacher.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot, because I’m having such trouble expressing myself to my host family, my co-teachers, the other places I find myself as I go with the flow in my new life. I’m very much concerned about using the wrong phrase and finding that I’ve scorned my entire host family for years to come, or something horrible like that. It took me a good 20+ years of speaking English to master the nuances necessary to describe my feelings about things with just the right, careful combination of honesty and politeness. (e.g. Q: Do you like my new haircut? A: You have the most beautiful hair. It looks great parted on the left side like that.)

But where like/dislike and love are concerned, I feel like I’m sort of safe on this issue in Georgian. Because all I know how to say is that I love it! And I am not lying when I say I don’t love Russian cognac. Or tch’a-tch’a. Plus I think my facial expressions say it for me.

But I also like what this says about the Georgian people. Politeness is ingrained into their everyday conversations. Hospitality is their number one concern. Putting other people’s feelings first is expected. (Again, sweeping generalizations.)

The point is—Isn’t it amazing what language says about a culture?

Wow, I guess I did just talk about my feelings. I want to describe where I am and what my family and school are like, but I’ve got so many great pictures to do that for me! That you may never see…:) Sigh.

The basics: I live about 40 steps from my school. My host mother and father Oruli and Amiran have a son, Irakli, and he and his wife, Manana, live here also. As do their two kids, Amiko and Maia. Amiko is turning 6 on Feb. 18 (my mom totally conveyed that to me with motions and a few numbers. Take that not-speaking-the-same-language!). Maia is like… 2. They’re all very kind and feed me all the time and have a big, beautiful house and have a European toilet. 😉 My mother and I made ketchapuri together tonight. For meal number five. Or six maybe…

I work here. I’m teaching ages 10-19, all with varying degrees of English skills. The kids thus far are a bit starstruck and so I can get away with stumbling through lessons. I hope to establish a rhythm after a few weeks.

Actually, my experience can be described pretty well by Rhonda in this NYTimes article. Though I wish the Times’d asked me to write my own piece. 🙂 I’m willing, if anyone is wondering.

I’m going to bed now. Day three of school tomorrow. And then I think I’m going into Bat’Umi to see a new baby…some relative of my host fam. I’m excited.

I love all your comments, by the way! Thanks for paying attention.

January 21, 2011

Southwest Georgia to Southwest Georgia

TbilisiI’ve joined 74 other volunteers in the capital of Georgia, T’bilisi. Forty-four are from the States, and the rest are from other English speaking countries: Canada, England, Scotland, Australia, South Africa and Ireland…I think that’s it. Plus, there are a handful of Italian teachers who I commend for learning Georgian (rumored to be the 4th hardest language to learn–though obviously that stat is impossible to prove) in English–which is their second, if not third or fourth language. We’re all struggling through together though, and we’re enjoying ourselves, and each other.

We’ve successfully hit the town this week, I think. Georgians celebrate Christmas Jan. 7 and keep beautiful Christmas decorations up until the 19th, so I tried to take some pictures of those. I have a new camera though and haven’t quite figured out the nighttime setting.

So I’ve just been told I’ll be going to a village south of Batumi along the West coast. Right along the Black Sea and very near Turkey. I would have been pleased with a lot of placements, but I feel particularly good about this.

We head West tomorrow with our families. Today we learned how to use the bank. Very important. Ooh, we also met with reps from the U.S. embassy. That made me feel important. But I am also hopeful that I will never have to make use of that resource.

More once I’m in the village! If I have access to the internet!

Some neat site in Tbilisi.

January 18, 2011

I’m in Georgia!

Gamarjobat! That means hello. I’ve learned so much!

I’ve inserted a photo of my schedule for this first week. Mostly to share with all the coffee lovers and haters in my life. Two coffee breaks per day, baby!

January 11, 2011

Between Georgias

Outside my parent's home in A-town.

Snow is falling on the buckeyes here in the heart of it all. This is the first time since I was in Denver for Christmas last year that I’ve experienced this—sitting inside on a day where the snow doesn’t stop falling. Waking up with grass and finding it disappeared by noon. Now everything in this flat countryside is white, still fairly untouched by men with big trucks. Maybe the blanket of flakes is endless—as far as I can tell it is.

I moved from Americus, Ga. Friday, then headed to run (jog?) a half marathon in Orlando, Fla. Now I’m back in little old Archbold, Ohio. Packing. And getting a hair cut. And enjoying the snow.

I’ll fly from Detroit>>Chicago>>Istanbul>>Tbilisi beginning late Friday afternoon. For six months I will do my best to teach some English in a part of the world pretty well unknown to me (as of yet!).

For the first 18 years of my life whenever I packed to go somewhere, I did so knowing my friend Fern would be there too. We tended to make the same (awesome!) social choices…or, our parents did. Whether it be a sleepover, kids camp, church camp or a choir trip, if Fern was there, so was I. I’ve always said this has trained me to be a lousy packer. She never forgot anything and if I did, she had extra. Chances are I will forget all of the important things as I head to Georgia. So, Fern, you should probably come along.

Otherwise, I have to hope that the rumors of Georgia being the most hospitable place on earth are true. And that my host family will help me out. I look forward to finding out!

P.S. It’s 1-11-11! Even better, in Georgia, that is probably 11-1-11! Oh, how I love palindromes and numerology and Andrew Bird.