Friday, March 16, 2007


It’s official: I have survived my first Georgian winter. I can’t describe the deep sigh of relief this fact allows me. But the temperatures are slowly rising, snow is melting, and the cherry blossoms seem to pop up faster with each day out here in the west. The horror stories I’d heard from G5s had me terrified of the winter. I was told there’d be five months of no electricity, relentless rain and slush, short days, and I’d spend every moment huddled around the wood stove with my host family. I’d heard stories of G5s peeing in water bottles in their rooms because it was too cold to go to the bathroom, and drinking vodka in their bedrooms to keep warm and fend off the boredom: I don’t know which one of these scared me most (probably the vodka) but I wasn’t looking forward to either. But, thank God, we were spared of such an awful winter this year. It got cold, that’s for sure, and it rained and snowed; but, luckily, I live in the west so it wasn’t too bad. I’ve definitely spent an amazing amount of time in the petchi room with my host family, and the only time I’m in my ice-box of a bedroom is when I’m sleeping in my sleeping bag with a quilt and blanket on top. My usual bedtime attire entails: longjohns, flannel pants, wool socks, and sweatshirt (usually a hooded one so I can pull the hood over my head, or I slept with a beenie on). In December my family gave me a small electric heater that doesn’t exactly warm my room, but it does cut the chill just a bit. I also slept with a hot-water bottle on really cold nights. I also started going to bed much later just to spend less time in the cold room (well and to watch Lost, I’ll be honest), not until after 11:00. Lately though, it’s been much colder inside than outside. My house is huge with high ceilings and made of concrete, so it really seals in the coldness… But the point of all this is that I’m very much looking forward to spring. I’m told that Georgia, particularly the west, is quite lovely in the spring. Cherry blossoms, violets, daffodils, and green hillsides are starting to reappear finally!
School has been a mix of highs and lows the past few months. My school is super-disorganized and chaotic because we’ll be joined with two other schools next fall and teachers are worried about losing their jobs. I also don’t have a director, a principal, anymore because she stepped down and we don’t know who our new director will be yet. This all means that the teachers aren’t held accountable by anyone and we get lots of no-shows and tardiness. This screws up my schedule because when a teacher is absent the entire class schedule gets shifted around, so some of my classes end being held at the same time or not at all. All of this makes it difficult for me to begin my secondary projects since I don’t have the support of a director or know which of my English counterparts will be returning next fall. So that’s been a little frustrating… But a good thing is that I started my English clubs in January. I have one for 5-6th forms and another for 8-11th. It’s been a lot of fun and given me more to look forward to during the week. I’ve given the students the chance to tell me what they want to do in the clubs. So far, I’ve taught them lots of American slang (they love that) and we’ve watched “The Little Mermaid,” in English of course. English club is fantastic because only the best students show up! They’re all enthusiastic and attentive and genuinely interested in improving their English, it’s WONDERFUL! The group of kids who show up for English club are awesome and brilliant and really make up for the rest of the students who couldn’t care less…well, for the most part. Things besides teaching that are keeping me busy now and in the near future: clubs, possible writing/newspaper club, teacher training (a Peace Corps committee that organizes English teacher trainings in the regions), GLOW (girls leading our world, I don’t really do much for GLOW except be the secretary at meetings), Writing Olympics, reading endless books, making bracelets with my host sisters, text messaging, engaging in daily cross-cultural exchange to break down stereotypes and build mutual understanding, and countless other important and not-so-important things…