drew's blog

white crows poop too | November 15, 2010

Although Ronald MacDonald has poisoned me, it doesn’t stop me from visiting his house.  I suppose the burger alone is worth it, but so is Nuka.  She’s an employee there with a degree in History & English.  A few weeks ago I received an email from Chris Walters, director of IREX Georgia(International Research Exchange) asking for local Georgians we know with a degree to apply for the Edmund R. Muskie Fellowship.  It’s a chance for a native to go to America to study & live for free.  I noticed how well Nuka spoke English while ordering so I told her a bit about the program & exchanged info.  Since then, I’ve been helping her fine tune her app. Although, I’m not sure how much she cares about it because as I was reading her essay, I could tell she didn’t write it all, & I barely know the girl.  I copied a passage, pasted it on google, & sure enough there was the source from which she copied.  It was funny, but still discouraging.  The requirement was for no more than 1,500 words.  I was pretty happy to push a Georgian to go above & beyond what they normally would.  If she doesn’t get accepted this year, I hope she continues to apply.  She wants a masters in international affairs.  We’ve become friends in the last month & often meet up for some lobiani & a walk in the park.  She’s 22 and was once a refugee when the Russian/Georgian conflict was at its worst.  She’s remarkable like most ladies here.  She’s extremely bright & speaks English better than most of the English teachers I work with.  I think this fact & her employment at MacDonald’s are her biggest strengths in getting to America through the fellowship application.

I finally went on an excursion yesterday with my 8th grade to beautiful Borjomi.  On the way there, they sang harmonies effortlessly to any & every song that came on the air.  Mari Sakashvili may be one of my weakest English speakers, but she’s probably the best singer.  I might very well have the next Georgian pop-idol as a student.  Back to Borjomi.  I didn’t get to take the cable car to the top of the city (which probably would have made the best photo.. I’ll be back though), but I did get to visit Borjomi Park, which included bumper cars, a roller coaster, & a swinging pirate ship.  I  rode the coaster, screamed, and felt empowered.  I was privileged to do some hiking as well – such gorgeous views.  I saw some historically awesome  monasteries including The Green Monastery.  It was good to have some church on the sabbath.  During transport from scene to scene, my students literally begged me to play Brees Leh Meow.  Its a game of kissing, slapping, & dialogue.  One person closes their eyes while another(narrator) points to the other players one at a time repeating the name of the game until the eyes closed person says, ‘Meow!’  Then, eyes closed person chooses either red (kiss, typically on cheek but can be anywhere but mouth), black (slap), or yellow (3 questions) and has to perform that action on whoever was being pointed at.  Whenever it wasn’t my turn to have eyes covered, the ‘narrator’ would go back and forth between pointing to me and then someone else, rather than one at a time, all in a row.  This way there was a 50% chance of me being the target.  I’ll leave it for you to decide which color was chosen most. =P

 

On the night before the excursion, I ran into the woman that used to be in charge of my program.  She was in town to visit some relatives.  It was such a pleasant surprise, and I was so glad I didn’t go to Turkey this weekend, because seeing her was better than anything I might have done in Hopa.  We went for dinner, but neither of us were hungry, so we just spent time catching up.  When the restaurant closed I walked her to where she was staying.  In the course of our walk&talk we discussed marriage, family, & divorce & how they tie into Georgian culture and where Georgia is headed as a result of their mentality about life & love.  While there is more initiative to learn the English language, it probably won’t quicken the initiative to play a more prominent role in global networking.  It takes a rare individual to leave Georgia to expand their attributes & open up their mind.  People are so set on getting married & validating consummation that things like a great education & traveling fall by the wayside.  My coordinator, we’ll call her Ana, expressed to me that many a Georgian man resent her and think her a difficult person because she’s educated, she expresses her opinion, and she doesn’t play the manipulation game that she’s ‘supposed’ to.  She stands out.  She is a what Georgia would call, a white crow.  To me, it sounds cool.  To Nino and other Georgian women of a similar stature, it can be a frustrating life – seeming rebellious, being resented.  Nonetheless, its the life they prefer.  When Ana & I crossed the bridge, she pointed to an apartment building a half kilometer away with every 2 out of 3 windows lit up like tiny candles at a distance.  Romantic, right?  This is what was said:

“In every one of those apartments is a family, right?”

“Sure..”

“Well I don’t see a family.  For every one of those apartments, I see one lie.”

Essentially, Ana sees a husband with a mistress because he’s grown tired of his wife, or a wife who repeats her same vain prayer every morning because its what helps her get through the day because she’s afraid to face the pain of really trying, etc. It’s faith without works at its most banal.  When I came here, I believed that Georgia was a developing country.  Since being here I’ve learned that Georgia is not a developing country because the very citizens that occupy this nation don’t believe it is.  It’s developed, as in, we’re not doing more than this.  This is Georgia.

I like Ana.  A lot.  She believes life is for living, not for living a lie and she lives that principle to the fullest.  She concluded & we parted on this wise:

“It may be difficult at times to be a white crow, but we should refuse to be pooping machines; to simply eat, sleep, poop, & repeat like most of ’em.  We’re better than that!”   I told her that the best white crows know they’re white crows, and I was happy to see she knows it.  But white crows poop too..

I’ve extended my contract through May.  As someone who doesn’t write about the teaching, which is the main point of being here obviously, I promise its going well & I enjoy it.  I still love it here, in fact.  I don’t focus on those who think Georgia is developed; those who don’t want to learn.  I spend my time helping those who do.  It doesn’t have to be euphoric.  Learning that was bitter/sweet.  I came here to serve no matter if they want it or not.  It’s just a bit tougher when they don’t.  The lessons are like this: 10-15% = reading text/correcting mistakes.  10-20% = disciplining bad boys/policing.  During this time their real teacher continues with the  lesson & I only chime in when necessary.  30-40% = exercises forcing them to speak & communicate with me.  I stress the use of complete sentences with correct grammar.  Vocab comes pretty naturally.  Sometimes we play games, & with the younger kids we sing songs and play Simon Says which they call Barbara Says.  I taught them the Hokey Pokey a couple weeks ago.  I had no clue how well that was going to go over.  It was hilarious -particularly when we did shoulders & whole body.  Though I must admit, I still spend some time at lessons just observing, waiting my turn to contribute.  While I can’t say the same for everybody elses teaching companions, mine know what they’re doing.

I suppose I don’t really care to blog the school time because I spend all day experiencing it.  Once is enough for me.  But its good.  Its great, in fact.  If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t have extended.  Though, the free trip to Israel helps too 😉

I’m finally getting involved with S.O.S. Village.  Its a small community of kids living together with some teachers who fill the role of mother.  I think most of these kids actually have mothers and fathers, but they don’t make very much money and can’t really provide for the children, so they live in S.O.S.  I visited there with Tinico last week and loved it.  She wants me to teach informal English lessons, which is cool, but I’m also going to just hang out & play with ’em.  They really enjoy soccer & rough-housing and there’s a lot of room to do both.  The village is located on the outskirts of town.  It’s lovely.

SHIP SAYS:

While walking down the road at one of Kutaisi’s local bazaars a couple Saturdays ago, Ship & I see a fella nonchalantly walking with a chainsaw in hand.  Ship simply says, “I think everyone in Kutaisi should have a chainsaw.”  “Why”, I says.  “I dunno.  Just seems like they might come in handy.”

-Never really thought of it ’til now, but he’s right.

a note: the people mentioned are real. the names used are not.

Love you all, including & especially you, Georgia.. ya ornery little turd.

LINKS

http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/pages/default.aspx

http://www.borjomi-kharagauli-np.ge/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borjomi

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I'm currently teaching English in the republic of Georgia. I started this blog so that those I love & those interested can read all about my experience.

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