Changes

I will not be going to Mleta after all. It seems the prospective host family did not meet TLG standards. I am disappointed, but at least I know the TLG staff is truly looking out for me. Among the cited reasons were that there was no indoor bathroom and the host family rubbed the investigators the wrong way.

So instead I was offered the chance to teach in Tbilisi on a different special assignment. I’ll be teaching English to school safety officers, it seems – although I don’t know why school safety officers would need to learn English, but hey. Working with adults is something that I was not really prepared for, although from what I’ve seen of Georgia the workforce is actually shockingly young compared to the States so I imagine I’ll be teaching a bunch of college-age students and maybe some 20somethings.

I’ll say more about that, though, because it’s interesting. When I was in elementary or primary school, many of my teachers were on the older side. I believe at least one of my teachers also taught my mom when she was in elementary school. NYC has been actively attempting to recruit new teachers – even straight out of undergrad – in the last decade or so, but when I was in the system, there were few young teachers and no young administrators. I also typically think of police as being slightly older – I feel like I rarely see a police officer that is younger than 30 in NYC, although I know there are some. I don’t know if this is related to the baby boom, or what, but I’ve never actually noticed anything odd about the age profile of people in the US because to me it was always something in the background.

In Georgia, though, it seems like the older generation – the Soviet generation – has largely taken a background in society. I have heard that since the Rose Revolution in 2003, the entire police force has been replaced as a measure to end police corruption. Indeed Georgia seems to have a young police force. The TLG staff is also young, as is the Minister of Education, as I think I observed before.

Anyway, back to Tbilisi. I’ll be teaching adults, most of whom will still be younger than I am, I imagine. I suspect they will mostly be male, due to the way gender roles operate here. So I’m actually a little intimidated by that – but at least I’ll be able to hang out and go drinking with my students after school, for instance, which I certainly couldn’t do with K-12 students. Maybe they’ll be easier to deal with than kids in some ways… I just wonder if they’ll be as motivated to learn English as the kids would be.

On the other hand, I imagine since this is a new program that I will have a great deal of input into curriculum and methods. Apparently the students may be at differing levels of English, which I think would actually be helpful because the stronger students can help the weaker ones.

And then of course there’s Tbilisi itself. It’s really a beautiful city in many ways, although it is still a city and there are parts of it that are very old and/or run-down. There is a really modern and clean Metro system. There is a robust system of buses and marshutkas for getting around. There are all kinds of international restaurants, all kinds of stores, services, and a robust nightlife. I imagine I won’t be bored or lack for anything there. It’s just that I was so looking forward to a remote mountainous assignment… but oh well. Since I’m going to be here for the school year, and there’s an option of coming back next school year, I may have an option to pick a new assignment or region at some point in the future, if I end up not liking Tbilisi.

But I think I will like it. I will almost certainly have regular power, water, and internet at home and at school, which is a nice bonus. A lot of the TLG staff I’ve met live in Tbilisi so I’ll have access to the Georgian people that I have met already and that speak English. Nino announced to us that she will be leaving the program after our group leaves, but she will still be accessible to us if we need any help – that hit me pretty hard, actually, but she also lives in Tbilisi so I’ll be able to see her from time to time, which I imagine would be helpful to me in my period of adjustment.

So I hung out with my new Canadian friends one more time yesterday, and I said my goodbyes as best I could – more of a “see you around, we’ll keep in touch” sort of thing – and now I’m hanging out in my room, blogging and reading facebook. People will be leaving the Kutaisi facility in waves – have been, actually, for the last hour – and I’m here until at least 2pm. One of my roommates tells me that “the girls are crying” donwstairs – friends getting separated, I guess, or just the emotion of leaving English-speakers in general and going to host families that may not speak much English. Anyway I don’t want to participate in any kind of communal emotional thing right now, because I myself am feeling a bit emotionally edgy but there are too many in the group who are still strangers to me for me to want to show any vulnerability around them. Some people deal with emotions better in groups, I guess, but I deal better when I’m holding a pen or typing on a keyboard.

The thing I am definitely *not* looking forward to is the commute back to Tbilisi. It’s a four hour drive, approximately – yeah, I’ll only be four hours from my friends who are staying here in Kutaisi – but the roads aren’t wonderful, the drivers can be nuts, and people sometimes like to smoke. I’m not even sure that we’ll get a bus this time – there are only six teachers going there along with, I think, the TLG Program Coordinator – so it might be a minivan or something that takes us. Maybe I’ll explain to the Coordinator about my smoking issues and she can make sure I get four hours of fresh air.

And in theory I will meet my Tbilisi host family at some point tonight. Nervous about that? Yes I am. For some reason, the idea of meeting the family when it’s already getting dark out bothers me, but there’s basically no way we’ll be in Tbilisi before 7pm, and I can imagine a scenario where we get there around 10pm. Georgia Maybe Time, you know.

I guess I should put on some nice clothes and pack my stuff away…

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