I found out that I will be going to a place called Mleta – a town in the mountains where a new school will be opening up this year. According to Nino, the school is very nice, and so I assume it will have internet which means I will at the very least be able to check my email and update my blog regularly. I’m not sure what living in the mountains means in terms of my homestay lifestyle – I might have water from a well, or from a mountain spring, for instance – however mountain water is relatively clean and unpolluted compared to lowland water, so that might actually be a great benefit. Also, I absolutely love mountains.
This means that I will not be staying in Imereti – the region around Kutaisi – after all. The weather will probably be somewhat colder and dryer, which is fine, since I brought clothes for all weather conditions. This also means that I will not be near any of the people that I have met in the last week. I think I will miss several of these people, which is odd because I don’t think of myself as someone who forms attachments this quickly, although I guess we’ll see how that turns out. On the other hand I have talked about feeling relatively isolated from most of the group so maybe this is for the best.
Furthermore, there will not be any other TLG teachers near me for the first two weeks. Nino promised that she was going to send another two or three teachers from Group 4 (the September 15th group) to the same region so that I would have some people to hang with, but actually I don’t mind being the only Westerner in the region – I didn’t come here to be around the same sorts of people I have been around my whole life. She tells me that the people in the Mleta region are more stoic and conservative than other Georgians, and they take a while to warm up to new people, but once they befriend someone they are friends for life.
Apparently I was handpicked by the TLG staff here to take this particular assignment. Nino said that it had to do with my demeanor – that I seemed like a peaceful sort of person – and also that they needed someone very “masculine.” I’m not quite sure what to do with that since I’ve always had some trouble owning my “masculine” identity – I present myself as “masculine” because not to do so where I grew up was very dangerous, but while I am very good at looking and acting the part, I’m not attacthed to masculinity out of any sort of internal motivation. But, you know, I do wear a beard and I’m sort of big and stuff, so maybe to Georgians I present as uber-masculine.
I have to wonder though if there weren’t other reasons. Maybe something in my letter of recommendation – my Linguistics professor wrote me a really wonderful letter – or maybe it was because of my initiative with the Georgian language. I may have mentioned before that I learned the Georgian alphabet before I came over, and I also taught myself some basic words and phrases and courtesies, and I tried to subtly make this apparent to the TLG staff because I actually love to show off even though I don’t like to be thought of as a show-off. One thing Nino has said over and over is that Georgians are very proud of their language – language, land, and religion are the triumvirate of Georgian identity – and perhaps showing intiative in learning the Georgian language was interpreted not only as a practical matter, but also as a sign of respect for Georgian identity. And perhaps since the position in Mleta is far from any native English speakers, they wanted someone who would quickly develop strong Georgian.
After being told that I would go to Mleta and that I was specifically picked for the position, I had a few minutes of euphoria. I am proud of myself, and I don’t often let myself indulge in such feelings. Anyway, I’ll stop bragging now.
So, what of the nerves I mentioned in the title of the post? Today is our last day of training, and I find that I am on edge. I am not great at waiting. I woke up early today, completely by accident, which was great because I had also forgotten to set my alarm. The power is off in the building, so I couldn’t go online or take a shower (water pressure is created by electric pumps in each bathroom; when they are off, we get just a trickle of water). I ended up watching an episode of Covert Affaris – one of the new USA shows I’ve been following – on my computer. When I finished I felt nervous, as though I had missed something important or something was really wrong. Writing this entry has calmed me down a bit, but I suspect I’ll be on tenterhooks all day at this point.
And tomorrow is back to Tbilisi for me, and then at some point after that I will be moving on to Mleta.
Did I mention I love mountains?
Also, Why I Left New York