I hate indulging the human need to validate himself and leave some tangible trace behind when he feels as if he is leaving; however, I will be doing just that by keeping a blog throughout my experience in Georgia. Just as the decision to keep a blog was personally controversial (see previous sentence), many things in life seem contradictory, such as my decision to volunteer abroad for three months despite my conservative and relatively non-empathetic mode of thought. But regardless of how I came to the decision and how interesting my mind must be to the average reader, I will be teaching English in the Republic of Georgia for three months (Oct-Christmas).
The program is really cool, and I haven’t seen anything else that is so accommodating, fulfilling or interesting in the amount of research I have done. Georgians love Americans, and, thus, they are desperately trying to embrace democracy and western lifestyle. This desire is so intense and homogonous among the people that they are willing to spend an exorbitant amount of money to make it happen. Our flights, room and board, and training are all free; moreover, we will be receiving a stipend that is generous considering the country and situation. All of this to have an American in the classroom with their kids… We are so blessed to be Americans. The entire Republic of Georgia knows about this program, and it is featured on the news every week. The host families are all volunteer and receive no compensation. I cant imagine a more friendly or desirable situation for American volunteers.
The toughest part about the program will be the language. I have started to learn Georgian, and I will be the first one to tell you how difficult it is. The language is not related to any other in the world, it has its own alphabet and the pronunciation involves sounds I didn’t know I could make (and some that I swear I never will be able to). We will have a one week, intense training program to serve as a crash course for the language, and I have bought a book to help me learn more. I am very confident in my intelligence and ability to pick up new things, but I know that this immersion will prove difficult on an intellectual and an emotional level. I am excited to update everyone on how my learning progresses.
I will be teaching English ~30 hours a week at a school, and that is all I know at this point. The school sizes range from 100-1500 students, and the ages range from 5-17 year-olds. I will be paired with a teacher, but that teacher will likely not speak English, and private lessons with the staff are highly encouraged. The entire task is daunting, but this challenge is awesome. I cannot imagine the personal growth fostered by such a unique program, and I could probably use the maturity.
I am really hoping to meet some cool people and built lasting relationships with them. I worry a bit because I am not the typical volunteer, but I like to think that I make friends easily enough. I guess I shouldn’t worry about this aspect of the adventure, because I really have no control over the situation. And my favorite saying this year is “It is what it is.” Very deep if you think about it…
I don’t know how often blog posts will come, and I will not be using the blog as my personal journal this round, so I worry it will not be kept as well as some might desire. I will attempt to be candid, however, such honesty is not always a good idea with such a wide variety of readers. But I am who I am, and I expect to tell everyone funny stories about drinking vodka with 14-year-olds and challenging everyone in the country to soccer matches or matches of any sort for that matter. I am going to have a great time, and everyone reading should suffer from intense jealousy. I know I would if I was the reader.
To my loved ones, I love you. I will be sure to make wordy speeches about all of you when giving a famous Georgian toast over the typical nightly feasts. Ya, you should also be jealous about the food and lifestyle these people live because it is amazing. But I will let that stew and give you more information as soon as I can.