Thursday, October 21, 2010

Deda Chemi!! (My host mother)


Basically I think TLG has exceeded their resources and found me one of the best mother's in all of Georgia! I thought my first family was really amazing but 'kho deda' this one is beyond words.

Chemi deda is an amazing cook, she calls me her daughter and says I am just like her other children. Claudia comes over because she lives 5 minutes away, and yesterday she taught us how to make plmani (not sure if that is spelled correctly) but it is Georgian tortellini. We made one set with khortsit (meat) and one with khatchoti (which Georgians call cottage cheese but it is really Ricotta). They were amazing and I cannot wait to make them at home.

Today I came home from school and lunch was waiting, and it was cabbage leaves stuffed with meat and rice. I cannot describe in words the explosion of flavors which erupted in my mouth. Followed by this amazing meal came this 3 layered chocolate cake with white homemade icing and shaved chocolate on top that she made from scratch. She proceeded to tell Claudia and I that it was diet cake and we were safe to consume copious amounts. We didn't trust that because it was far too delicious to be diet cake.

Her cooking isn't the only reason she is amazing. She is the type of mother you read about in books that is so maternal, loving and self-sacrificing. Basically like my mother at home. I had no idea I would feel so at home in my second host family. I am so blessed!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Female Vigilantes in Tbilisi

Like chemi megobari (my friend) Claudia Ukonu usually says "Only random things happen in random countries!" I.e The true story I am about to tell you.

Last night after a wonderful talk in Prospero Bookstore on Rustaveli, Claudia and I met a fellow TLG teacher by the name of Madeline. Through our conversation Maddie and I discovered that we both lived in the same district of Tbilisi. Once we arrived at our destination we walked out of the metro station up the stairs and was about to part ways, I to my marshutka and her to walk 3 blocks in the other direction to her home. While standing there exchanging numbers we heard ruckus behind us and naturally we looked. Headed towards the steps that lead to the metro station was an old man around 60 walking with a cane no less pulling a woman along yelling at her in Georgian. Instead of continuing down the steps to the metro station he pushed her against the wall and continued to assault her with vocally and physically.

Now at this point I am livid that this woman is being publicly battered and all the Georgians are walking by acting like they don't see anything out of the ordinary but then they are shocked to see me, a black girl standing there. I said to Maddie "if he hits her again I am going to intervene." She agrees and a Georgian lady standing near us was also looking on in mock horror but like the others did nothing. The man pushed her by the throat against the wall and that was the end of the line. I shouted "Ara ba'tono" (No Sir) and walked towards him as Maddie followed. I engaged the man in conversation while Maddie took the chance to get the woman safely to the metro. Basically I knew enough Georgian to tell the man what he was doing was very bad in which he kept telling me she had done something in the house. I then asked him in perfect Georgian where he was going, and insisted he come with me to find a marshutka (bus). He responded "Ar minda marshutka" (I don't want a bus). So once Maddie returned I bid him a good night and left. During our entire conversation he looked completely mortified and repentant.

I've decided to put the entire experience in the imaginary box of things I do not understand about Georgia. Men and woman stare at me without abandon everyday I walk down the street, listen to me when I talk and pay me far too much attention, but the minute a woman is being beaten in the streets everyone acts like they are closed to the world around them. After Maddie rescued the woman while I dealt with the man, the other Georgian lady that was watching in horror walked over to her and hugged her. Very shocked that we handled the situation so well.

These are the days of my life!

Monday, October 18, 2010

First Day of School Take 2!

Like a few others I got to re-live my first day in a new Georgian school, and it was even more amazing than the first time. At once I notice the difference between schools in the towns/villages to Tbilisi.

I work at school 191 which comprises of some 1,000 students! This blew my mind because I do not think there is any school this large in the Bahamas; especially none I have ever taught at. My Director was very amiable and so were my English teachers. Everyone on staff was very nice and welcoming.

My first class began with the 11th grade and they were so excited to see me. It was a really great class. Immediately I can tell that there English was much more advanced than the village students and I was very please. There eagerness to learn was also really exciting. I was asked a ton of questions about my life, my experiences, my country and basically everything that has happened to me thus far in Georgia. A few students offered to introduce themselves to me in front of the class and give me a brief biography of themselves as well. A very agreeable day.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Kharagauli to Tbilisi and then back again!

When I initially set out to blog my experience in the Republic of Georgia I did this with the intention of having constant internet service. However, like most things in this random country what we expect never comes to fruition. It is quite unfortunate that I am have not been able to give a more detailed account but I will try now that I live in Tbilisi. So a succinct recap of the events that has lead up to today.

September 2010:

I feel into my small town routine rather easily. Living in Kharagauli was pretty much mundane and I looked forward to every weekend I could spend time in Tbilisi. My students ranged from really sweet to rather rude. My 3rd-9th graders were amazing and so easy to learn the language. Especially the young ones, it always amazed me how fast they picked up and how well they were able to read. The older kids proved to be far more of a challenge with the exception of the 11th graders. The 11th grade was a good class, with the boys being very good at English and the girls having no idea or interest in what we were ever doing. The rudeness and lack of knowledge exhibited by the 12th grade was astounding. I really think they felt that they had no need to learn English. So not knowing how to get through to them I decided to create an activity I like to call 'Great Expectations'.

Basically there were 5 questions about their expectations for English class and how they hope to use the language. At the end I got some amazing answers and thought that I was finally making some sort of breakthrough, false alarm! Basically the next class they went back to not listening, looking at me like I was an alien and doing what they wanted, with 3 people interested. I became rather fed after a few more lessons of this and told my Director something needed to be done. She told me there was nothing she could do because they had tried everything with that class and nothing ever worked! Apparently they treated all their subjects the same which boggled my mind because I will never understand how people allow children to have control! So needless to say I informed her that I just could not teach that class if they were not interested and so I washed my hands of the 12th grade.

While dealing with the boredom, stress of conveying my language to Georgian children, my body decided it would just react violently to my surroundings. I mentioned before that my allergies/asthma was being freaky when I first arrived to Kharagauli, I also mentioned it got better for maybe a week, well it just went to a level that was not acceptable. I was having asthma attacks everyday, horrendous nasal congestion and using my inhaler about 10-20 times per day. Finally I was deathly afraid of having an asthma attack and possibly dying after being told a boy died in the National Park when he had an asthma attack. So I finally decided to head to the doctor in the capital city.

In a nutshell after running a series of test on me the doctor deduced that my white blood cell count was through the roof proving that my body was constantly fighting allergens and my lung capacity was shot. He wrote to my employers and informed them that I had to move to the capital.

I moved to Tbilisi in the second week of October!

October 2010:

My life is no longer mundane and luck has found me an amazing family a second time around. I live in Gldani District which is like the Brooklyn version (a much nicer cleaner version) of Tbilisi in an Apartment Building on the 12th floor. My family consist of a Mother, twin sisters that are 17 and a brother who is 13. The father lives and works in Moscow, Russia and comes to visit during holidays. I've been spending time with my favorite TLG people Danielle and Claudia and we're all just loving the fact that we now live in Tbilisi together! Let the good times roll.....chai gindaa??