Tuesday, February 22, 2011

London

There have been so many things that have happened since I've been here. It seems like I am on some path of education of self. Ever since living in Georgia I have notice that I have been continually tested in all aspects of my personality. My resilience, patience, tolerance, ideals, and other aspects as well have been tried and tested.

It's not over though, I am sure life has a ton of more educational bullets in its arsenal.

Initially I was stuck here, then I was able to stay with a friend, who for work purposes traveled a lot so basically I was living in the flat free of charge. Of course I knew I had to find something to occupy my time here because when idle things do not go well for me. I ended finding the "Heart to Heart Catholic Radio" project and met with the Director who immediately invited me as part of the time. I was elated finally something that required almost all of my talents. I fell into the role immediately...having to organize a Saturday Conference with the artist for the proposed Road Show, help with catering, and I even did some audio/visual work at the event- Where I used a projector to play some videos of the various bands etc.

I thought this venture would keep me very busy until the Road Show began in May. That turned out to be a very wrong assumptions. The week following the workshop I went into work with Gerry twice, and much of that time was spent with him just talking about things but not really bringing me up to speed on what needed to be done, even though I asked.

Then the week after I went in on a Thursday and spent the day typing a compilation of Catholic Schools into Excell just so we knew who we needed to contact, this I typed directly out of the Catholic Directory...this I questioned because I thought it was quite backwards and wasting time but he insisted that it was necessary. I was then told I can have Friday off and then we would resume work on Monday and begin making calls.

Gerry never contacted me that Monday and in fact it is now Tuesday of the following week and he has yet to contact me.

Last week I fell into a depression spell, where I began questioning everything that has been happening in my life and the path I was home. It was indeed a very dark week. I even seriously considered leaving England and returning home.

Then I woke up on Saturday morning and shook myself. I couldn't believe how ungrateful, and silly I was being. I went out with some friends to window shop in Kingston. On the way there I got a call from one of the families that has been interested in me requesting me to meet with them because they wanted an Au pair straight away. To me that was God giving me an answer to alleviate my conjured despair.

I agreed and Sunday I came to Chelmsford, Essex and well after meeting little Olivia, I decided to do it. London is very much accessible and the compute isn't that long. I am very happy with my decision. I won't be making some grand salary but it is much more than I was making while volunteering my teaching services in Georgia.

There are so many lessons here to learn and I would be a quitter if I just gave up on this journey. On July 26th I'm heading back home and I am not sure where my life is taking me next but I am really looking forward to more spontaneity!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Understanding from a Georgian American Girl

This morning I woke up to a beautiful morning in London. The skies are clear and the sun is shining. Before making breakfast I got on facebook and decided to check my messages.

I had a new message from a girl named Bella Gevondyan, this is what it read:

Bella Gevondyan 30 January at 07:57 Report
Hi, Nicole

My name is Bella and I would just like to tell you that I was very saddened to learn about your termination from the tlg program. I have nothing in common with the program, in fact I accidentally heard about the program from a friend in georgia and went on facebook to see exactly what it was. That was when I saw the link to your blog about your (colorful!) adventures in georgia.
I was born and raised in that country (i currently reside in the usa) and quite honestly I couldn't help but nod at everything (from racism and sexual harassment to your witnessing of an elopement) you had written because it was all so true!
Anyway, obviously, I do not know you, but I feel that the program has missed out greatly on a terrific teacher, as reading your blogs was so refreshing and even educational; I automatically pictured you lecturing it to a class full of students!
I wish you nothing but the best in future! You; whom, again, I do not know, are a great teacher. That program, by the way, was probably trying to come off as 100% squeaky clean and perfect; that's why they used the old "we are so offended because we are so non-european" trick. georgians are famous for having those double standards: one day they suck up to america because that suits them, and the next, refuse being criticized (which is like a total contradiction to democracy). but why am I telling you all this, you probably know it all too well already.
well, I never thought that a termination of a person whom I did not know would ever infuriate me this much, but here I am, typing away...lol I am though very saddened for the students who are going to miss out on your teaching as georgians need english asap...but what can you do but be strong and move on

sincerely,

Bella Gevondyan :)


For some reason her understanding everything that I experienced so clearly just from reading my blog made me weep like a baby. I just started crying, and I realized that I hadn't allowed myself to feel the pain of my termination. Sure I let myself feel anger, spite, and malice for TLG but I didn't allow myself to feel the loss of the amazing friends I made in Georgia, both my host families that loved me so much and accepted without question into their lives. My host mother Nana that did everything for me and treated me like a daughter, my host brother Abo who is such an extraordinary young man, the twins, and of course Irina my first host sister who is an angel. I did allow myself to mourne this loss and this stranger, Bella who felt so compelled by my blog made me feel all of that.

I had no idea how to respond to her. I was so overraught with emotion that I just said thank you.

It is amazing how someone who knows nothing about me could understand so quickly what I and other TLG members go through. I suppose it is because she is Georgian and she now lives in America she is better equip to understand these things.

The fate of TLG is uncertain of course , but if it continues to operate the way it is, the program will not be a success. Which is sad because I really believed in the vision, I just hated the operation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Employment Termination

I write this post from my friend's flat in London and as I am still angry, I am more saddened by what happened.

On Friday, January 21st 2011 I packed my things in preparation to head back to Georgia of cours with a heavy heart. My Christmas vacation turned out to be amazing of course thanks to my amazing friends and family, and so I was quite reluctant to return to Georgia.

I spent my last few ours at my friend Jen's house with Indy, Bill, Shi and Jen's kids who were quite sad I was leaving. I was on facebook of course saying last minute goodbyes to friends I did not get to see and printing my boarding passes. I checked in for both of my flights. The first leg would be Nassau to London and then from London to Tbilisi.

The flight to London was extremely turbulent, at the time I had no idea that it was a sign of the onslaught that was to come. We managed to arrive in London ahead of time so I checked my email, since I had my boarding pass in hand I decided to take a minute before dropping off my luggae. When I opened my email account I found the follow email from Teach and Learn with Georgia aka TLG in my inbox:

Tamar Mamporia <mamporia@tlg.gov.ge>
to: honeysuckle84@gmail.com
dateFri, Jan 21, 2011 at 5:17 PM
hide details Jan 21 (4 days ago)

Dear Nicole, This letter is in reference to your Employment Agreement that was signed between you and the Legal Entity of Public Law – National Center for Teacher Professional Development.We would like to inform you that your Employment Agreement with TLG is terminated according to the Article 8, Paragraph 8.3.3 : “Employee’s behavior is inappropriate for the “Teach and Learn with Georgia” Program throughout the entire Agreement term”. Our decision was conditioned due to your numerous derogatory and offensive comments made on Facebook about TLG. It is not reasonable for the project to keep the volunteer who offends the TLG and embarrasses it publicly. We consider that you cannot meet our goals with such attitude and our Employment relationships shall be terminated urgently. We cannot entrust the future of our school children to the teacher who is offending their country and people. It is not your first time expressing the offensive attitude towards the project. In the beginning of the programme TLG gave you a chance and time in order to abide with the local traditions and lifestyle and that was the reason why your contract was not terminated right after the first precedent of the offence expressed from you towards TLG. Please be informed that your Employment Agreement is terminated from 21th of January 2011 and your flight to Georgia is also cancelled. You are requested to hand in any property of TLG entrusted to you for performing your tasks and discuss any dues owed to you by TLG. Please let TLG know if you left luggage with your former host family in order for us to arrange sending it to you mailing address to our earliest convenience.

Regards,
Tamar MamporiaLL.M in Commercial LawTLG Legal AdviserOffice: (+995 32) 31 89 40 ext. 159Cell: (+995 77) 144723Email: Mamporia@tlg.gov.ge

Now I will admit that prior to arriving to Georgia in September I made a post on the facebook page Expats in Georgia. I do not remember verbatim what hte post said but it went something like this: "What ever happened to professionalism, common courtesy, promptness, and consideration?" This statement was made because it was 2 days before we were told we would depart and we had no plane tickets. Naturally many people were angry, our families were worried and wondering what kind of people we were allowing ourselves to work for. Many people commented on the post and felt the same way. Within the hour I got a call from Larissa from Footprints Recruiting asking me what on earth did I put on facebook. I told her and she said I have to be carefull because of cultural differences. She said TLG had decided to review my application and I should apologize to Data from TLG. So I sent him an email, this is what I sent:

Nicole Bedford <honeysuckle84@gmail.com>
toDavid Chigolashvili <data@tlg.gov.ge>
dateFri, Aug 27, 2010 at 6:53 PMsubject My Apologiesmailed-bygmail.com
hide details 8/27/10

Good Evening, I just got off the phone with Larisa and I would like to give my sincere apologies for the comments I made on the facebook page. I was just concerned because my family has been asking a lot of questions and I didn't know how to answer them. I know there are a lot of cultural differences and I assure you I mean no disrespect I was just a bit concerned. I am completely dedicated to this program and I've been a teacher for a few years now and I know there are a lot of pitfalls that come up on a daily basis. I can assure you that I am not a problem causing person and I know how to deal with crisis, but I guess I did not voice my concerns in the right manner. Again I apologise! I really want to participate in this amazing opportunity and I would really like to be a part of this.

Sincerest Apologises.
Nicole Bedford

Fine I was allowed to come to Georgia. As it happens problems with TLG continued to ensue of course because again I will say the lack professionalism, the necessary training to run a program of this magnitude, courtesy, consideration for their employees/volunteers, and the means to be meticulous about host family choices amoung other things.

During my time in Georgia I had many problems which I blogged about. I had some school issues and I posted them on facebook yes, and I may have made comments on other people's status that may have been indirectly about TLG but never have I out right mentioned the term TLG in my status's on my page.

The TLG staff always boast about how they are so busy and yet they have time to stalk, police, and watch 350 volunteers facebook pages? The last facebook incident that I got a call about was when a few boys in one of the 10th grade class got quite racist and derrogatory towards me. I was livid, beyond reason and so I vented on facebook straight away. They called me asked me why I did not call them so they could deal with it...all I could think in my head, and somehow I managed to not say out loud, was how on earth could you help me all the way on Marjinishvilli when I work in Gldani!

I got anothe call from Tatia asking me to remove it because Maia felt that if Parents saw what I said they would be upset. What the fuck? The parents would be upset because I called their children rude and disgusting...well by golly they damn well were and not to mention racist! Well anyway I deleted it and I was so sick and tired of being monitored that I decided to group all the TLG staff members on my facebook and block them from seeing any of my content.

I figured this would be best. I blocked them in November. They have not been able to see anything since then and I am wondering now what on earth was I fired for. Did they not know before I left Georgia on December 24th that they would fire me for such frivolity?

The irony here is that the exact thing that I said about them in August is what they continue to live up too.

  • It is quite UNPROFESSIONAL to terminate your employee via email hours before their flight.
  • It is quite INCONSIDERATE to not let the host family that the employee was living with know that you have fired them and told them not to come to the country. I know this because my host mother sent me a message worried and I had to ask someone's host sister who speaks English in a message on facebook to go and speak to them for me.

This program is beyond repair. They fire me for facebook, when they decide to keep people who had been escorted off of other people's property in police cars, they continue to employ teachers that drink like fish (but of course that is the Georgian way) and others that continually do things that in fact embarass the program. Yet I am fired for being vocal about my frustrations?

Well I have news for TLG, I will not stop until I reveal the truths about this program!

Friday, November 19, 2010

An Unexpected Elopement!!


With a heavy heart I write this post. Yesterday the day began like any normal day apart from be being stuck to my bed for the first half of it, but a last it was like any other day or so I thought. There is no way I could have fathomed or predicted the events that would transpire within the course of yesterday evening and late night.

As usual my host sisters got dressed around 2:30 pm to head to their afternoon lessons. They do not attend regular school this year instead their mother who is quite invested in their education pulled them out of public school and paid for tutors in each lessons to ensure they are receiving personal attention and will pass their exams for University. My friend Claudia came over for lunch because my host mother made some good food and a cake. Lika my host sister curled her long black hair and was quite concerned about what she was wearing and kept asking us if everything looked ok. I was confused since she was only going to lessons but ignored it. We assured her everything was fine and they both left. Claudia and I watched a movie in my room and then she headed home.

When Lina (the other sister; they are twins) came into my room I assumed the other sister was home as well as they are usually everywhere together. Her and I completed an English Proficiency test to see what areas I need to focus on for our English lessons together. I told her to call Lika so we could do the test together. Her response was surprising but I wasn't worried at the moment, needless to say Lika was not at home. Deda came into the room and wasn't worried as yet either and Lina said that Lika had a test so that is why she wasn't home.

2 very long hours go by. Lika Is not at home. Deda is now worried and very angry. Lina is now sweating buckets and very nervous so I asked her again where Lika was and she said "Lika went to hang out with her boyfriend after lessons in the park but she said she would be home by 5, I am going to kill her." At this point my host mother begins calling around it isn't tense yet but I should have known it was the calm before the storm.

Next thing I know a million things are happening all at once; there is angry Georgian being shouted my host sister Lina is freaking out and calling some random young man from my cell phone, we have two phones in our house and as she is on one of them the other is ringing off the hook. My house is now a Cal l Centre, or a live telethon called "Do you know where Lika is?!"

All I hear is the crying next, and the angry shouting through the tears and Lina is freaking out and worried and telling me she thinks Lika is married. I'm in shock, wondering how on earth did this day turn into this.

I assume after caller her family in Kakheti (a vineyard village outside of Tbilisi) they have confirmation that Lika is indeed there and with the young man and his family. Deda is crying, screaming more angry Georgian about her daughter and blaming the other one for what happen. Certain events took place in the house that I just will not discuss but it left my host sister basically having an epileptic seizure in the kitchen from the sobs that raked her body. Words cannot describe the hopelessness I felt. I had no idea how to help anyone, their despair crept into me and I also began crying in my bewilderment.

Plodding down my short hallway I walked into the living room at sat next to Lina and tried to comfort her. Next thing I know there is knocking at the door, I look up and 4 policeman are walking into the house curtailed by a female detective. That was my cue to go to my room. Moments pass as I listen to the Georgian, bits in pieces I hear the officers question my host mother of my identity . Then I hear foots steps, the kind that comes from high heels approaching my door and I was thinking shit I hope the female detective doesn't want to speak to me. I was relieved to see my host aunt, who was followed by an 18 year old boy by the name of Lasha who I assumed was her son but later found out, no less after he kept coming into my room to expend his English and peer his jizzy eyes into mine, that he was indeed a nosey neighbour!

A few more hours go by as they are trying to find the exact location in Kakheti of the boy's family. Finally they do and Deda has to rush out with my 13 year old host brother Abo (he's quite the mature young man he acts 25) in tow and all the policemen. Finally I am able to sleep. I prayed for Lika to be returned home and for the nonsense to end.

7 am this morning I was awoken out of fitful slumber by the ringing of the door bell and some insistent knocking on the door. I got up to get it and halfway there my host sister is already opening the many locks. There stood deda chemi (my host mother) on the threshold with the haunted look of mourning adorning her face, and without looking at Lina says to me in Georgian, Lika will not come home and begins to cry. All I could utter was "I am so sorry" in her mother tongue. She thanked me and I went back to bed.

Somehow I found sleep again and when I was awoken it was by more crying and angry Georgian. The entire day she sat on the couch staring into nothingness and cried on and off.

No matter how much she cried, and asked why, the fact still remained that Lika her 17 year old daughter was now married and living in Kakheti as a Muslim wife to a 20 year old husband.

I left the house today and she was still in the same position. Gaping as rivers fell silently from her eyes.

These are the days of my life!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ver Gavige!! Sexual Repression & Homophobia in Georgia!


For quite sometime I have been meaning to blog about this topic. As I stated earlier in my previous post, The Republic of Georgia is the poster child for sexual repression. I think they put Asia to shame with this one. Apparently the phrase 'people don't have sex in the Soviet Union' is far from being false and apparently since being free of Soviet ties Georgia seem to not want to catch up with the rest of the world and start having sex; apart from for the means of procreation (reproduction).

I find it very odd that in this society of repressed desires and homophobia that Georgian men exhibit so much affection for each other in public. This was something I could not fathom from the beginning and I am still trying to wrap my mind around it every time I see it. In Georgia it is fairly customary to see men walking down the streets with their arms around each other, or holding hands, when they greet they kiss on the cheek sometimes almost in the mouth and on the subway they are all over each other. Magram (but) they are apparently the most homophobic men in the history of the fear itself. Confused yet? Well good luck sorting it out because I still don't understand hence 'ver gavige' (I don't understand).

I consider myself to be an open-minded individual and therefore I have no problems with homosexuality, but seeing such public displays of affection is so odd to me, because where I come from 'straight'men would never be caught dead engaging in such physical closeness with their male friends due to the stigma of being called gay. I've discussed this phenomenon with many other volunteers and most of us think it is a product of sexual repression and pseudo homo-eroticism. It is quite uncanny that all the men here like to rub on each other and when they are drunk it is taken to another level.

The irony of this situation is astounding. Men are all over each other because their customs/culture denotes that they cannot be all over the woman and yet they are homophobic. This is one of the things that makes Georgia so special, and a place that I can never begin to understand.


Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seqsi Gindaa? Ar minda!!! When men stop being polite in Georgia and start being Jizzy!


Disclaimer: This post is not a classification of all Georgian men but an account of some of the experiences I have had with them while living in this country. If you are Georgian I am sorry if you are offended but I can only draw from my experiences!

Seqsi Gindaa? I am sure my English readers are quite confused but this question simply translates as 'Would you like sex or do you want sex?" Ar minda means "I don't want." During training week we underwent a series of classes called Intercultural Class where we had a Georgian teacher teach us the cultural differences that we maybe faced with while living in Georgia. My cultural instructor in fact was a Georgian man and did not fail to warn us of the troubles we may face as foreign women in this country. However he failed to tell us how audacious and overt they would be in their endeavours to 'bed' a foreign woman. In any even rarer case by Georgian standards a black woman.

A few weeks ago during my first weekend after I was moved to Tbilisi, my friends and I ventured out to Shardeni Street in old Tbilisi for a night of dancing and fun. Of course as usual we were met with some rather overly excited Georgian men, which has come to be accepted as the norm for us. While standing conversing with Claudia a very young Georgian man (he was about 20 but looked 30) was trying to impress us with his rudimentary knowledge of English; and of course we decided to play along with the little role-play besides we are here to improve English. Well as the conversation began to veer upon the ridiculous, Claudia and I decided to walk away, then in some sort of desperate bout or perhaps it was a touch of tourette's syndrome he blurted out "Do you want sex." Now I am a modern western woman yes and of course I am no Mary, however, a gentleman would never dare be so crass in front of a lady in public, nor would a woman who deems herself a lady allow such nonsense to continue. I was utterly floored at the moment or perhaps it was the vodka, but in any event after staring at him like he suddenly turned into a giant spider slipping on the roller blades attached to his eight legs, Claudia and I just walked off and ignored his calling out to us.

That was the first time it happened. I'm not sure why things like sexual harassment by Georgian men shock me anymore but I suppose it is because they lack finesse. I am not saying that in my country or any other country in the world these sort of things don't happen, but usually men in the west try to be more subtle. Not the taxi driver two weekends ago. After a night out on the town with my friends, another teacher and a (a male) shared a cab home to Gldani. His stop was before mine so he got out and the driver and I continued on alone. As soon as he was out of the cab it began. This entire conversation I am about to recount took place in Georgian (yes I am getting better at speaking and understanding) here is what happened:

Georgian Cab Driver: Come to the front seat. (proceeds to continually tap the seat to make his point clear.)

Me: No, thank you I am fine here.

Georgian Cab Driver: Is he your lover?

Me: No, he is my friend.

Georgian Cab Driver: Do you want a lover?

Me: No I do not. Keep going straight please.

Georgian Cab Driver: Where are you from?

Me: The Bahamas

Georgian Cab Driver: What is your name?

Me: Nicole

Georgian Cab Driver: I am _________ (Didn't care to listen but I am sure it was Zhura , Giorgi or some other recycled name)

Me: Nice to meet you. (Trying to stay calm as possible so this man doesn't drive off past Gldani)

Georgian Cab Driver: Nicole, seqsi gindaa? (Do you want sex)

Me: No!!! I do not want sex!!!! (I repeatedly said in a stern bitchy voice ar minda!!!)

Georgian Cab Driver: Why????????

Me: No!!!!!!!!!! I do not want!!!!!!!!! Please turn right at this corner.

Georgian Cab Driver: Nicole, why, seqsi gindaa? (Do you want sex? Now he pleaded somewhat)

Me: AR MINDA! Here 10 lari ( I give him the money even though we decided on 7 I just wanted out of the car.)

Georgian Cab Driver: Nicole, seqsi?? (looking out of the window as I begin to walk into my building)

Me: ARA!!! (NO!! Without another word a bolted up the stairs into my building pulled out by 5 tetri and got in the elevator)

That experienced left me jolted. As soon as I got upstairs I sent a text to George the very friend I had just parted with. I knew if it came down to it I would be able to fight my way out of it, but I would have also been stranded in the middle of nowhere in the outskirts of Tbilisi. I thought after this experience nothing else would surprise me but I was wrong.

A week later the same thing happened when I walked home from Neil Zupancic's apartment. We live 5 minutes away and since our friend Camille had just moved to Gldani he walked her home and I decided to just walk alone. Another cab driver pulled up and asked me to get in the car. I refused and told him it was too expensive and I would take a marshutka. He said and again this entire conversation is in Georgian, I don't want your money. So I was pissed at this point because of what had happened the previous week, I shouted at him again in georgian "what do you want?" Home boy rubbed his fingers together sideways, I about almost lost it. Cursing them out in English never works because I have had to do before while protecting my friend Danielle from a drunk Georgian man. So I shouted at him that I didn't want it and told him to go away. He drove off and circled back around and continued to try to coerce me into his car. Finally the marshutka came and he drove off.

Now at this point my ego is insulted. Why on God's green earth do these men expect me or any other self-respecting foreign woman to drop their clothes and just automatically have sex with them? My friend Claudia has had men blatantly ask her how much it would cost or just straight up offer her money for sex. Once while Neil walked us home a guy followed us and he had to shield us from him. Another incident during Tbilisoba, our friend Raughley basically translated from Russian that 3 men were interested in Claudia, Danielle and I and after telling them repeatedly we did not have cell phones so they couldn't get our numbers (a lie of course) they offered to buy us cell phones.

In this apparent sexually repressed society it seems that the presence of so many foreign woman have made Georgian men particularly crazy, audacious, molesty (new version of molestation), and straight up delusional! The aggressive nature of the men I have encountered so far freaks me out because I know sooner or later I am going to stop being polite and start busting some ass!

These are the days of my life!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Religious Practices by my Host Family...Surprise we are not Orthodox!


Indeed it has been awhile since my last blog post. This is now going to change since I have internet at home and I don't have to wonder when I will be connected to the web again to make a post. Needless to say I have a few backed up stories to blog about but I will begin first with the touchy subject of Religion.

The Republic of Georgia is comprised of mostly Orthodox Christians and boast about being one of the first countries in Christendom back in like a million years ago. So imagine my astonishment when my host cousin comes to visit and informs me that my family is indeed Islamic. This revelation hit me really hard, and even though I have come to realize that in Georgia nothing should be taken at face value, or just because you heard it was the 'norm' does not mean that it is everywhere in this Country! I should definitely remember this after meeting two...count them two half black Georgians who only look full black but that is another story.

My host cousin and my host sisters inform me that yes they are all Muslim, but my host father who currently lives and works in Russia is an Orthodox Christian. My confusion drives deeper. I know or I should say that from my experiences I have known that Christians and Muslims do now mix usually because of that unevenly yoked situation, but in this case I suppose love prevailed or maybe it was because back in the Soviet days Religion may have not count for much, perhaps, but this is only speculation on my part. When my host mother arrived the entire evening I was looking for an opening to broach the subject with her. I am not Georgian so I do not feel the urge to ask intrusive questions to people. As she was flipping through my Georgian phrase book coincidentally she came to the page that translated various Denominations of Christianity and other Religions. She began reading them so I asked her "you are Muslim, yes?"(must use simple English) and she said no. Again the confusion came, she then told me in Georgian that she is not, but her mother, father, sister, brother and her children are Muslim, but her husband and her other sister are Christians. I asked her if she was a Christian then and she also said no. At this point my head is about to hurt because I am not understanding how this Georgian woman can be so different from what I have been told about Georgians. Her response was that she has not decided on which religion to follow and she really does not see the point. I was like basically....wow!

I asked my sisters why they did not wear their heads covered as all Muslim girls would after the age of 12 I think it is, and she said because her mother doesn't like it so they do not, but when they get married they will wear it. I was then informed that there are Mosque in their village of Kakheti (spelling).

Another surprise in terms of Religion happened yesterday I met 2 American Mormon Missionaries while in the mall in Gldani. They informed my friends and I that there is indeed 2 Churches of Latter Day Saints. Naturally we made plans to go bowling with them!

One of the lessons I think I am to learn while living here is tolerance. Perhaps a few years ago my self righteous Christian attitude would have had me freaked out to live with Muslims, but the revelation of my family's religion did not shake me in the way it would have about 8 years ago. When my host grandmother or cousin pulled out their prayer rug to pray I looked on in admiration. Their faith is inspiring, and I think if a Muslim can strengthen my own faith in my own beliefs then I am on my way to realizing that in every aspect of life their is room to learn, and therefore grow.