Well today was the big day! We woke up really tired because everyone hung out and talked until about 5 am in our room. Getting up at 9 was a difficult task, but knowing that we would be placed with our families gave us some extra energy. We packed everything up and made our way down to the lobby to find tons of Georgian families filing in. It was funny because we would see them walk by and wonder who we belonged to. All the families seemed really excited about being there, and I couldn’t help but try to pick out which ones I would like for myself.
All of us teachers were on one side of the room, and the families on the other. One by one they called out the names of the family, principal and student and they would meet in the middle. It was funny to see the families’ reaction when they found out their teacher was ethnic. I definitely don’t look Georgian, but I am glad I am Caucasian because the amount of attention the black teachers get is ridiculous. Everyone wants to touch their hair and mutters amongst themselves. It is a pretty funny site to behold.
As you can imagine I was pretty nervous about what family I would be paired up with. When the time finally came it was somehow anticlimactic because my host mother obviously spoke no English, and the principal said “we must go” right after we introduced ourselves. So, I grabbed my luggage and was in the car within 3 minutes which was weird because all of the other teachers stayed and saw who their friends were paired up with. I was a little bummed but I guess someone was in a hurry. I wish I could relive the moment though, because there were some important questions I needed to ask like which school I would be at. All I can remember is that the principal said “you start Monday” and then she left. So I have been trying to get a hold of TLG (Teach and Learn with Georgia- my program) to see what school I am at but the hotline is busy 24/7. Anyways, I probably should have been a tad bit more business minded instead of curious and care-free.
It turns out I live only a few minutes from the hotel we were staying at (seriously, like 2 minutes) which is weird because everyone I have talked to has branched out all over the city; however, I guess someone had to be in this area. My host mother (deda means mother) speaks no English at all, and neither does her husband, my host father (mama means father… confusing right?). It turns out they are actually Armenian, so Georgian is their second language and Russian their 3rd. As you can imagine, I don’t think there is much room for English. I am glad that I have been studying Georgian, but honestly, it still isn’t doing me too much good. There are a million different verb tenses, and the verbs change drastically between each one. It sucks. On the plus side, though, there is no assignment of gender to the nouns, there are no articles and they use postpositions instead of prepositions (shi is added to the end of a word to say in or to). Anyways, it has been fun to learn, but I still have to be very animated to get across how I feel. Seriously, it took like 10 minutes to tell them I was feeling sick last night. Then, they wanted me to see a doctor, and I just wanted to lie down. Eventually, I think they understood and I ended up taking a couple hour nap.
They have the Armenian TV package here which definitely leaves something to be desired. On the plus side, there is soccer on a lot, so at least I can understand what is going on with that. When there is no soccer though, we listen to Georgian singing, so I am completely lost. Also, there are Spanish soap operas on a lot, but they are loudly dubbed over in Georgian which is really frustrating, because, though I have no desire to watch soaps, at least I could understand it. We watched Georgia play Malta and win 1-0, so that was fun. Ahh I forget to mention that my host parents have a 26-year-old son, Levan who speaks very broken English. He came home from work (he teaches computer information at some school nearby, but not the one I will be teaching at he assures me) and watched the game with us. It is rough, but he will be the closest thing I have to a translator here. I feel awful though because I sleep in his room, and he crams himself into a tiny loveseat in the living room at night. What can I do?
I woke up early because I had gotten so much sleep the night before, and I awkwardly wondered into the living room, but Levan was sleeping there, so I quietly retreated back to my room. He was planning on showing me around the area today, but I had no idea when, so I fooled around for a couple hours until he woke up. In this time there was also an awkward breakfast experience with my Deda ‘cause I had no idea what she was asking, but I assume I will have many such experiences, so when reading my blog just assume I had an awkward meal.
Though I have no idea what school I am at, my Deda thinks it is #97, so Levan said he would show me how to get there. It turns out it is not within walking distance (which totally sucks, because they said like 85% of schools would be), and I will have to use Marshutkas (public transportation vans) to get there. They are pretty cheap (25 cents per ride), but there is this complicated numbering system, and I know I am going to get lost at least a couple times because they have different routes. It was about a 20 minute trip to the school, and I was very let down to see the condition of the school. It’s pretty awful to be honest, and I am going to be very muddy every day because the roads there are in such poor shape. There is no soccer field as I was hoping for, and there seem to be no amenities of any sort for that matter. Tevan told me to make sure to bring toilet paper with me, because a school like this probably doesn’t have any. Haha
So, the school situation kindof sucks, but I guess it is a more real experience to be placed at one like this. I talked to a couple friends today, and each one of them has a completely different experience. Coming into this experience, none of us were told what we were getting ourselves into, but this is because there is no fixed experience that they can tell you about. it is important that I just make the best of it and try to make a difference.
On the plus side, there is a huge market 3 minutes away from our house (on foot that is). They have everything from clothes, to food to a casino (haha), so that will definitely be handy. I know that many of the rural (they use the word “regions” not “rural”) teachers have no access to shops, so I feel very lucky in that regard. Also, the metro is located there, so I think it will be pretty easy for me to travel around and see my friends or vice versa. It is really nice to have all of this nearby or else I would have felt like I got the shaft in every regard. Gilby, one on my best friends from training is staying with a lawyer who is fluent in English and super loaded (they have a sauna, indoor pool and maids…plural). I cant help but be slightly jealous, but I will definitely have a more real experience where I am.
I start school on Monday, and I am pretty nervous about it. I really have no idea what I am doing, so we will see how that goes. I am not feeling sick anymore, thank God, and I am excited to see how everything progresses. I will have loads of spare time, I believe, so be excited for regular updates and funny stories when they come.