Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Three weeks of Internet silence can make you feel like a monk


“Hey Adam, what’s been going on?”

“Why don’t you blog more often?”

“DO THEY HAVE GOOD PEACHES IN GEORGIA??”

These are all valid questions, oh yearning public. Believe me, it has been my greatest inclination to blog. That is, until I actually sit at my computer, at which point my mind blanks and I shed a tear for writer’s block. So what has been going on?

Remember all that stuff about living in Zodi, a little village outside of Chiatura? Well, I’m not there any more. Due to some issues which we attempted to resolve, the Ministry has moved me out of Zodi. Since national Georgian attention is focused on the volunteers and our blogs have been posted on several sites, I will refrain from going into detail. Suffice to say that moving me was the correct decision.

So, I think we left off with “emotionally trumped,” right? I guess I finally got dealt a good hand. After a lengthy wait, I was placed in Anaklia, a large village about 30 minutes to the west of Zugdidi. Try to hold onto your jaws – I actually requested to be out in here in the Samegrelo region. If you’re Georgian (and if you’re reading this blog, statistically speaking you’re either Georgian or my parents), then you just did either a double or spit take. Everything I’ve heard suggests that this region is difficult to live in. I took a chance, however, because many of the male volunteers have been very happy here (granted, the women in our group have been having more issues). And I’ll just go ahead and say it – either I hit the jackpot for villages or this region gets a lot of grief for no reason. The people here are amazing, friendly, and inviting. Zugdidi is nice - though I've only spent a bit of time there.

Anaklia is right on the Abkhazian border – the disputed territory with Russia – and is also a seaside village. The former bit of information might frighten some, but I feel incredibly safe. Most of the people in the village were here when Russia invaded in 2008, and according to them, “we weren’t scared then and we aren’t scared now. You shouldn’t be either.” As for the latter, you can see the Black Sea from my school and my house is about a 40 minute walk from the beach. Furthermore, the Caucusus mountains (already snowcapped) loom in the distance to the northeast. While other parts of Georgia feel run down, Anaklia’s buildings feel either like bungalows or are being built up from scratch. Did I mention that the president is trying to turn Anaklia into a second Batumi? It’s a few years off but it’s got to be exciting for the people here. In short, Anaklia is quite different from anything I’ve seen in this country (and I’ve travelled plenty).

I probably wouldn’t be gushing about the move as much if it weren’t for my family. I live with my teacher, Lela, and her husband Ramazee. They have two daughters, Mariamee who is 15 and Ana who is 12. Lela’s mother also lives in the house. Now, the thing about Georgia is that to be an English teacher, one does not have to be fluent in English. In fact, some teachers have really limited English – and I guess this is the point of TLG. Lela is not this way – her English is fantastic, and already I am able to speak faster than I was when I first arrived on Sunday.

But her English isn’t even the best part – it’s her attitude and enthusiasm for teaching that set her apart. On Monday, my first day at the school, she had five classes. We were both tired after being at the school for something like six hours, so when we got home, I hid away in my room for a while. When I emerged that evening, I realized that Lela had been tutoring kids from the neighborhood all afternoon – and she didn’t seem to want to bother me. I was floored at her dedication and when we spent another hour that night planning the next day's lessons, I began to question if I could even keep up with her schedule. I’ve decided that for now, the best way I can help her is to talk to her in English and correct her mistakes. Sometimes, this isn’t even necessary as she really only needs to be told once or twice before she starts to realize what she’s doing and self-corrects. Her students love her, her lessons go smoothly, and she cares about the pupils the way a teacher must. In other words, my teacher is amazing.

The bell has rung and I must go to another class. I’ll post this later and will be blogging more frequently (though I have no internet access in Anaklia right now).

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for the update! Glad to hear that your time in Anaklia is going well. Wow...living near the Black Sea AND the snow-capped Caucasus...I'm jealous.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Simply amazing. So happy for you and excited about your new teaching experience. Is there a beach for swimming, and have you been in the Black Sea? Maybe it's too cold already. How about boating?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Adam,

    It is really a pleasure to read your blog. I do believe that you and other TLG volunteers would be an great help in transforming Georgian society and helping your people to be ready for borderless 21st century. Good luck in all your efforts and hope that troubles/inconveniences you've experienced are in past.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hey I'm neither Georgian nor related to you and I'm lovin' your blog!

    ReplyDelete
  5. So glad to hear you are happy and well!

    ReplyDelete
  6. ditto Connie - I'm thinking about doing TLG starting in January, always glad for the updates

    ReplyDelete