Sunday, January 30, 2011
I had a new message from a girl named Bella Gevondyan, this is what it read:
Bella Gevondyan 30 January at 07:57 Report
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
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
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 <email@example.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.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
toDavid Chigolashvili <email@example.com>
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.
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!