Tim in Georgia

This is a blog to chronicle my experiences in the Republic of Georgia as a Peace Corps TEFL volunteer. *The views expressed herein are mine and are not necessarily those of the Peace Corps or the US Government.*

26 December 2007

Photographic Evidence

As I now have a camera cord, I can more easily post pictures for your viewing. Enjoy.
It had been a while since I'd seen a one-horse open sleigh.
Taken only 4 days ago! It's like yesterday!

David sleds uphill with assistance from the rope-pull.

Primed to cascade down the hill dangerously.

Evidence that I did, at least, put on ski boots in the vicinity of other skiers.

A Georgian wedding. (from August)

How I don't get around.

A Georgian man decanting his homemade wine into the Fanta bottle for my purchase in his cellar.

A garage full of mandarins in my village.

The crates the mandarins would eventually fill.

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15 December 2007

The Devil's Wheel!

A friend and I recently spent far too long on a bus and got to talking about McDonalds and Ferris wheels. After exhaustive research that challenged my counting skills, we concluded that Georgia has 4 Ferris wheels and 2 McDonaldses. We expended considerable mental energy again before arriving at the postulate that, of all the countries that contain at least one Ferris wheel and at least one McDonalds, Georgia is the only country to contain more Ferris wheels than McDonaldses. I strongly believe this to be true, and will go around asserting it as fact until it is proven otherwise. McDonalds, however, is not pleased. There are rumors that they are building a third franchise in Georgia. Mr Ferris and his descendants seem unfazed, and are holding steady at 4. Finally, I want to point out that Ferris wheel translates to "devil's wheel" in Georgian. God only knows why.

I have moved into a separate living space. Generally this is called an apartment, but in my case this is not actually true. I now live on the second floor of a house. The second floor of this house is located above the first floor, a 4 minute walk from my school, and a similar walk to the village's ancient Roman fortress. It is nice to avoid walking up and down the mountain daily, as the newer, more central location allows for increased interaction with my students. the place has a bathroom with shower (shower used loosely but affectionately, there is a showerhead but nowhere to affix it to on the wall, so you must hold it above your head yourself) and occasional hot water (when the electricity isn't out and when you think enough ahead to turn the water heater on), a bedroom, and a kitchen with washing machine. The part that I'm most excited about and scared of is the kitchen.

As you might know, if you have had the unpleasant experience of watching me "cook," I am not talented with the frying pan (or most other kitchen implements, for that matter...I can, however, do mean bar-tricks with a blender, owing to my days working at the ice cream shop). To me, cooking consists of two parts - theory and practice. In practice, I cannot cook well. I couldn't quite execute the right concentrated-tomato-sauce to water ratio the other day, despite reading on the jar that it should be 1:1 . I also recently discovered that, in theory, I cannot cook well. For example, the same day, I surmised that garlic bread would go well with my spaghetti. I went to the store, bought garlic and bread, and put them together. But garlic + bread ≠ garlic bread. The problem here wasn't my execution (although maybe that was poor, too), but it was my theory. This needs to improve.

I realize that I haven't written much recently about my work. There are a few reasons for this. First, as you all know, I am saving the world. This has been somewhat successful, but it's not finished yet. When compared to this rather ambitious goal, the rest of my smaller projects seem somewhat...less important by comparison. Second, and perhaps I am wrong about this, I feel that my work-related successes and/or failures here don't particularly translate well to an internet audience because you (the audience) can't really know the starting point. For that matter, I have a tough time determining the starting point myself. It is sometimes hard to tell where or when my influence began and where or when it stops. And finally, when I talk about my work, I like to go into a lot of detail, much of which is quite boring. But I do talk about it with some of you via email or other means. That said, I feel that it is about time that I provide an update about what I've actually been doing here as part of my job.

The textbook I am co-writing is nearly finished, it is in the translating phase now. Additionally, several Volunteers from the newer group (arrived June 2007) have expressed interest in working on this project, so the chances of it becoming sustainable have increased.

Actually, I think this is getting boring already. But anyway, I shall press on. I am teaching at the Constitutional Court, which is really cool. I get to walk up a carpeted staircase in the Court building whenever I teach, which makes me feel more important than I am.

Also, my primary project, teaching in my village, is going much better than it did last year. Homework completion is up by about 30%, the children are learning, and, just as importantly, they are gaining confidence. To some of my students, English is no longer what you speak when someone asks you a question in English - instead it's a living language that can be used to communicate with foreigners, get a good job, study abroad, improve self-esteem, do any number of things. The initiate conversations with strangers/tourists in English. This is the most fulfilling part for me.

The holiday season is in full swing. I nearly forgot about Thanksgiving, not remembering it until around 8pm. I then realized that I had celebrated by eating a hamburger. Close enough. There are many more public Christmas decorations on display in Georgia this year. I don't know what to make of this. I remember remarking on how different it was last year to be away from all the decorations and commercialization and everything. I still don't know if this was good or bad. In either case, this year is not the same.

Happy Holidays.


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