Friday, August 28, 2009

On the Train to Hell with a Pit Stop in Traumaville

Hello Friends,
Let’s see, where shall I begin!? LOL. Needless to say since my last update, many exciting events have occurred. Let’s start with the good. Warning: This is gonna be a long one…

Well we had our going away dinner which was before our day of saying goodbyes and such on Wednesday. That evening, what I had thought was going to be a somewhat short dinner turned out to be somewhat lengthy, however extremely fun. I love spending time with all of the volunteers. The evening started off with the dinner and then moved onto the main events: cultural presentations, skits and cluster presentations, the moustache contest, followed by dancing and talking.

The cultural presentations were about topics which relate to Georgia such as, matchmaking, religion and churches, Georgian cuisine, Georgian politics and political involvement, Georgian dance, and etc. My topic was easy to give a presentation on, however, it was pretty lame given everyone already knew Georgian cuisine as that’s all we had been eating since we arrived, BUT one awesome volunteer Barbara did an amazing job at trying to make it less boring by making a Power Point presentation using Georgian and English script to create a guessing game using Georgian ingredients with 12 of the most common/typical and authentically Georgian dishes. She worked really hard and I definitely appreciate all of her work, truly.

So then we had skits. Unfortunately, our cluster (Tokhliauri) was not as ambitious in preparing a talent sketch for that night, so the next session was pretty much spent observing, however! we received from the Patara Chailuri cluster superlatives. I was most likely to be a mother hen? Not a good look, however for the purpose of making a joke that only I laugh at, I’ve dropped it occasionally. There was also an inappropriately funny joke at the cost of a volunteer, Trisha, who left Georgia after only 3 days of being in country because she had not yet finished her undergrad and was extremely homesick. Her superlative was most likely to be late for the marshutka. I honestly could not stop laughing it was so funny.

Then there was the moustache contest. I’m not sure if I mentioned it, but I had been growing a moustache for the past two months after a bunch of the guys in our group decided to make a competition. Then, shortly following, there was a decision to tack on five Lari (Georgian currency) to seal the deal. As many of you may or may not know, I’m probably one of the cheapest people. In the words of one volunteer, Lauren, “We may be cheap, but we don’t look cheap!’ So needless to say, I was pretty hesitant to throw in the five dollars, however, to avoid outcasting myself from the group I paid in the end. This made the pot an even fifty Lari (aka GEL- “Georgian Lari”). There were three places: third got 5 GEL, second was 15 GEL, and first was 30 GEL. It was good and slightly awkward, but we did a moustache runway walk to show off our staches. I was going for more of a stylish stache, if that’s even possible. The first place winner is the only place I can remember, and it was Tom “Thumb,” who had definitely a creepy stache it was wispy, long, and red; a good look only if you want to be on “To Catch a Predator.”

After the main events, there was a small dance party. Of course, everyone wanted me to dance to show off my skills. Most Georgian music can be danced with Samba, and a really good Samba song came on, and I danced with Lauren. I taught her the basic step and it was great! Then I wanted to teach her another step, which is really fun, and it turned into a tiny group class outside with other volunteers. One of the PST staff’s, Irma, daughter is a professional ballroom dancer (Above Gold level!). We also danced some Cha-Cha-Cha (as it seems to be known internationally). Then shortly after, we departed back to our clusters.

Then we had our day of saying goodbyes which I really didn’t do too much of, however enough to be adequate. Krisanne had her birthday supra. Sidenote: I’m not sure if I’ve explained what a supra is: a supra was originally a Christian dinner in honor of celebrating Christian roots and heritage and those who practice it, however it often nowadays is a drinking contest, lasting about five hours in length and tons of food. Georgians have supras all the time: birthdays, holidays, weddings, funerals, anniversaries, and sometimes just for the hell of it. If you are in the right company, supras are a ton of fun. I told our LCF (Language and Cross-culture Facilitator) about how in America you know who has the good parties and who has the lame parties, and I asked her if it was like that with supras in Georgia. She did not hesitate to say yes, and I love it. So there was roughly 18 volunteers and 1 Georgian present for Krisanne’s birthday supra, and it was so much fun! I wish more people had come as supras can be as small as 3 or as large as 300. Krisanne’s host-mom makes amazing food, and everything was delicious. As there was wine there…and I think that’s all I have to say, however I was well-behaved.

It was so strange to be at the supra, knowing that the next day we would be leaving, and there was a good possibility many of us would not see each other for a long time, or possibly ever again. Georgian is above the average, because of the beauty, culture, and amazing support staff, but on average with Peace Corps, only about a third of volunteers actually finish their service.

Afterwards, I came home, began packing and ate my last dinner in PST. Krisanne’s host-mom toasted to us and began to cry, however, my host family held their composure pretty well. They gave me two books: a Soviet history of Kakheti and Tbilisi and another book on Georgian Ethnography. They also gave me two pottery bowls. Then I had 3 lucky stones from Maine, which I gave them in return.

The next day, bright and early, I woke up, packed some more, ate breakfast and was picked up by the Peace Corps marshutka at my house. Because the facilities were very small, we were only allowed to bring one person from our host family to be present at the swearing in. My host mom came. She is so sweet. She arrived with all of the other Tokhliauri mamas (mothers). **In Georgian, “mama” means father and “deda” means mother. So this is where is started to go down hill. But, before, a side note on a situation which had been going on since my site visit.

So after my site visit to Gardabani, I realized I had been stressed out while at home, but couldn’t put a finger on it until a few days after. I was talking with some volunteers about it, and we collectively came upon the conclusion I was stressed because I didn’t have my own room or door in which to secure it. Every time before I left my new host grandmother would make sure I had left the keys, in case they needed to get into the room. Then, they use the bathroom for showering and doing wash and they had been using the refrigerator for overflow from the other fridge and also because it keeps the food colder, so they would put meats in it as well. SO, I tried to call the HFC (Host Family Coordinator) Irakli about the situation. I called him on Tuesday and Wednesday several times, however on Wednesday evening his phone was turned off. Then I called him every day for a week, his phone was turned off or out of the area all of that time as well. It’s known that his job position travels all over Georgia because he has to visit sites and host families. I just figured that’s what he was doing. So, one day I mentioned it to my Program manager, Asmat, and she informed me that he had been out of the country on vacation, but he would be back that Monday. Then I called him on Monday, and his phone was still turned off. So I talked to Tengo our PCTD (Peace Corps Training Director) and he said that he was still out of the country and would be back the following Monday for sure, which was last week, four days before the swearing in ceremony. I asked him what I was supposed to do, and he suggested to call Mary, our second in command for PC Georgia. I called Mary, and she has been so helpful, but recommended that because Irakli had rapport with the host family, it would be best if we waited till his return.

When he returned he said that they were working on the situation and he would go out to visit my permanent host family and talk with them. He then told me at swearing in, that they were reluctant to construct a door, but decided it was ok, which was great as placement options in minority communities are limited/non-existent. He and Mary said that there should be a door in my room with a lock before the end of the following week.

So now back to the swearing in ceremony. It was supposed to start at eleven which on international time is close to 11:30. Around that time, a flood of directors, counterparts and permanent/PST host family members begin to flood into the building. I’m looking around and my PST host mom, as mentioned arrived, however neither my host family nor director/counterparts came. I was hella pissed. It’s like I’m coming to your community to work and improve it for two years, and you can’t even take a couple hours out of your day to come and greet your guest? I still don’t know why they didn’t come, but regardless it was disrespectful for not one to come. It’s an expectation of Peace Corps for host family members to come. One of the older volunteers’, David, host brothers came back early from his vacation to meet him. Georgian culture is known for its immense hospitality, so even though my permanent site is a minority (Azeri), we are still in Georgia. Little did I know that this was only the beginning of the next couple of days in terms of this lack-of-hospitality concept.

David’s counterpart who was there was also upset that they didn’t come and demands their phone numbers from me. I’m not going to argue with a Georgian who could clearly take me out if things went for the worse, so I gave him the phone numbers. He talked to my host mom and they were all at home in Gardabani. She said that she would meet us in Rustavi, roughly ten minutes by marshutka away from Gardabani.

We get to Rustavi, where they said they were waiting, and we waited for them to finish their shopping, for them to look at my belongings and say that we need to take a taxi. They then proceeded to say, “I hope you’ve got money.” Granted that Peace Corps gave us a small allowance for travelling to site which covered the taxi, but no Georgian I know would make their guest pay for their own taxi along with my host brother and some woman I didn’t know. I thought this woman was my counterpart, but it turned out it was one of my host mom’s friends? Or at least that was what I got from the translation.

That night, they told me that in the future when I have any problems that I should talk to them before I talk to anyone else, and that I shouldn’t be afraid to talk to them about my problems. This would have been nice, if it hadn’t been said with a threatening tone. After this I began to talk with my host brother for the mandated thirty minutes of English a day, per my host family. Then the next morning, after a beautiful spread of three pieces of cheese and some bread, I was laying in bed feeling down, when my host mom came in and told me that the door Peace Corps will reimburse them for is too expensive, she’s not doing it, and that I should just tell them I have a door to make them happy. That dinner I was told that we have separate apartments and as such I have my own bills to pay: water, electric, some gas, and trash. Trash is 1 Lari, water is about 5 Lari, gas for me will be between 10 and 15 Lari, and then whatever electricity I use I have to pay for. They had a volunteer, DJ, live there last year and it’s not a mystery that they receive a living allowance from Peace Corps.

In terms of electricity distribution, if they want to get technical. There is a stairway light, which is connected to my room which they have on every evening for several hours, they shower in my bathroom, which also requires a light, and then after showering they keep all of their hair styling equipment in my room which they do after they shower. So to be so nitty-gritty about paying for every little thing, I feel like this was not considered. They also asked, “You like tea right?” I said, “yes, of course”, in which they replied, ”Well, you know you could go to the store and buy tea and candy to have over in your apartment so you don’t come over here all the time.” Then, they tagged on to appear more polite that,”It’s especially important in the winter time.” There’s maybe 3 feet of stairwell platform I have to walk to get to their apartment. However, they said that I should keep my water filter in their apartment, as there are more people over there, and also because the other volunteer let them use his.

Then yesterday I was going to the bank to get them August’s living allowance, when per usual they asked me where I was going. I replied that I was going to the bank and they lost it. They proceeded to tell me that they want money and even after Irakli talked to them about how Peace Corps would reimburse them they said they didn’t even have money to buy it initially. I was like, “I don’t know, I mean September is pretty close, so you’ll get the allowance for that is well.” Then they said of course I should call PC and see if they would front them September’s allowance so they could pay for the door, as if they paid for the door now, they wouldn’t have any money to put meat on the table. I told them I would call Mary, in which PC should have had a meeting about that early on Monday morning. They told me that also, because my things were there all of August that I should pay for a full month. They said it’s like a hotel, whether you are there or not, you still have to pay. I told them that they do get a partial allowance, but they weren’t satisfied by this. So I gave them both months as Mary suggested, and they seemed somewhat quelled.

Also so today, I had a larger breakfast, as my host mother was not eating. Sidenote: my family usually put the bread slices directly on the table top, which is extremely sanitary of course. Today they put it on a platter and the explanation was that it was because a guest was coming over, and you do such things to make your house look pretty when guests come over. ??? <--that pretty much sums up how I feel. While I feel it is important to integrate into my community, from my perspective I feel like it’s not something you are able to do within a five day period, and that just may be a cultural difference.

On the positive note, I really like Gardabani and believe I am really making the best of everything. Yesterday I went to Rustavi and went through the Bazaar there with Brian and we met up later with Alison and David and went to the famous pizza restaurant, which the pizza was ok, but the atmosphere was what I liked most. It was really cool.

So we have secondary projects which we aren’t supposed to start within our first several months, and one good thing about the business my host mom runs out of her house (selling clothes, perfume, and such/telling instant-coffee fortunes) is that many people come through. I met a lady named Diana today who has been working for six years for this community project which works with Ireland, America, and England to help the community, and I could definitely see myself helping out. I’m going to try to at least get here contact information. Also there is a Professional Teachers Development Center which does trainings for teachers, and I want to be involved in that. We are expected to teach for 15-20 hours per week at our school, and the other 20 hours should be spent planning and doing secondary projects. Peace Corps requires we do two long-term secondary projects within our service; however, I have this itch to be really involved! Lol and that’s not saying that you should worry about me burning myself out. I am able to resist temptation. I am going to start the teacher planning on the first of September and then school starts on the fourteenth. I am going to try, also, to meet with my school director, Flora sometime this week to ask her if all of these hospitality faux pas are cultural or just plain not cool.

Right now, I’m going to go off to figure out how I’m going to get internet. There’s a Magti (Georgian Phone Company) close to my apartment, so I am going to attempt to buy their internet service: only 15 GEL per month for unlimited access! I love you all more than ever and look forward to talking with you soon!


Monday, August 17, 2009

PST, VAC and no money

So upon my return home, I had really deeply missed my current host family, and they shared that they missed me too and we celebrated! It was so nice to come back to something to which I was already familiar. The three or four days being submersed completely in a Russian speaking community made it very easy for me to make conversation with my current host family, as Russian as I may have already mentioned is the language in which we converse.

One thing I realized late in college was the importance of reading for fun. It’s something I had really lost a grip with and now I’m trying to read for fun in my spare time and catch up on the classics I never read in school, given the short time frame. Right now I am reading Lord of the Flies and another book I’m going to read, one of the other volunteers, Andrew, has currently.

As training is coming to a close, I’m looking to what will be the road ahead of me. We are required to create or participate in secondary projects, and I have not yet decided what exactly will be my project. For example, already at my new school is an ECO club (ecology and environment) ,and my director also expressed the students’ strong desire to have a theatre club where they can act out well-known Russian, Azeri, and European fairy tales in English. As I do think both would be very interesting, I cannot say I bring any expertise in either area, but I feel it’s always good to branch out or jump in with both feet, so-to-speak.

Last week Monday through Thursday as well, we had a summer school for the kids in Tokhliauri, however it designed to not be strict classroom instruction, but more like playing games and having a variety activities for everyone. On the first day we watch Ratatouille, one of the movies which I brought from home and myself had not even seen. It was really helpful, as there were many foods mentioned which the students could recall. The second day, I went to a private school near the capital to volunteer for the day and we played CLUE, the game which I had previously organized geared towards teaching during practicum. The school outside of Tbilisi was in itself very different from any Georgian school I had been in so far. On American standards, this “really nice” school was probably a nice to average school in the US, however my experience so far was that it is amazing! Unfortunately I had not taken any pictures, but you’ll have to trust me on this one. I also realized that during my time here, I honestly have not taken that many pictures. I’m gonna try and step up my game in this last week of PST.

Right now my host mom is making ghinkali (a type of Georgian meat dumpling, similar to the Russian Pelmeni, however larger and in my opinion more flavorful). We just started watching “My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding” and I’m translating the gist to her in Russian. So far, eleven minutes in, it’s going well.

Also my first shower back from the site visit, I saw a small mouse in the bathroom and in response, my whole family and I freaked out over the incidence. Then, the next night, I go in the bathroom to find that a bird had flown into the bathroom. My whole family laughed about the whole matter, and also to give you perspective, this is a normal, relatively modern bathroom. It would be like anyone in the US have this occur, needless to say, it may have been one of those “you had to be there” kind of things.

As we are in a village there are mice, birds, and animals of all kinds. For example, in the walls of our living room and under the floor in my room there resides a small rat family. The family itself is small, however the rats are pretty big, and they are not afraid. There’s a hole in the chimney where an old stove used to feed smoke into it, however, as it is out of use, there remains just the whole. Behind the whole is a plank in the wall in which the rats travel. I saw it pass by one day, after one of them removed the newspaper blocking the hole and it had to have been head to tail 3 feet in length. My grandmother said after they took the newspaper that they like to read and that the mouse in the bathroom likes to shower.

When I first arrived in Georgia, I was running once every other day, and as it became really hot and after much fending off of dog and rooster attacks, I stopped, however I miss running very much. At my permanent site there will be no opportunity to run, so in response to this I have decided that I will get cardio from shadowboxing and strength building from squats and pushups. I am also fortunate to have thus far, never needed to use a squat toilet. I want to do an expose on all of the various kinds of toilets which I have come across. So without running I also rationalized this will help me towards my goal of gaining twenty pounds, however, as mentioned I believe I will not be eating too too much in my permanent site, and I also discovered that one of the side effects of the malaria medicine I have to take for this particular site is a decreased appetite. So I’m like, “Great, I’m guessing it is not God’s will for me to gain weight.” However, in the face of God, I have decided to struggle towards my goal. Mary, our second-in-command, did point out, however, we will be allocated additional money in our living allowance to account for a lack of food, and about this I’m very glad.

So now I feel it’s important to talk about this malaria medicine. It’s a mild dose of Chloroquine (sp?) and side effects include: vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headaches, weakness, confusion, etc. My first dose, I felt my stomach rumble, however did not experience anything too severe, but my second dose this past Friday, was a violet reaction. Within the hour of taking it, I felt miserable, broke out in a sweat, and just wanted the excruciating stomach pain to be over. However, the pamphlet assures me that these are all “adjustment” side-effects. Luckily, some of the other forms of malaria medicine cause increased sensitivity to sunlight, constant confusion, and one even causes nightmares. Apparently the military just recently stopped using the one that causes nightmares as it was increasing the number of mentally ill servicemen. However, this was information from the grapevine, and I’m not sure if it’s entirely true.

The grapevine is something that within Peace Corps and within Georgia spreads faster than wildfire and possibly even rivals the speed of sound. If you are coming from Tbilisi across the country, it is very possible that people in that town will know you are coming, even if “unannounced”, well before you get there. Also, if anything happens to any of the volunteers, it is also possible to assume that you will not need to tell your story more than once for all of the host families and volunteers to find out. As a result of any gossip, especially, sometimes the story can be amplified, and it is important be aware of your actions as it could damage your kargi bichi or gogo status.

We have our final LPI (Language Proficiency Interview) on Wednesday for Georgian language, which will determine how many of us who don’t pass will have mandatory Georgian tutoring for three months before a retest. Last Friday, we turned in so many forms. Every week, Peace Corps requires us to submit feedback of how things are going in every area basically and we had to turn in our overall PST evaluations and everything.

Also! On a somewhat exciting note, I was elected to one of the three permanent VAC (Volunteer Advisory Committee) positions. There were only four candidates including myself and two spots available, however it was the first thing in my life which I was ever actually elected to. I’ve applied for positions for clubs in public school and the university, and any position actually received was usually something like a “leftover” position. That’s not to say that I haven’t been appreciative of these positions or put forth great effort, but this was a first and made me feel really good about myself. I feel also honored to have been selected to serve in Peace Corps, too! Especially with how difficult the current situation is in the job market. The VAC is a committee which bridges communication between volunteers and staff to create change within Peace Corps Georgia to better the overall experience for staff and volunteers.

That’s about all that’s going on with me! I will catch you up on some more details at a later date. By the next time I write, I will already have traveled to my permanent site, in which case I’m going to try and get internet so I will have it in my new place, as the cost is only roughly $12 per month! Take care, and I love all of you, whoever you are!


Monday, August 3, 2009

Girls and Chickens on the street

Hello again!
So last we spoke, I was intending on the next day to go to the religious portion of a wedding, however, necessarily we had a drill where all of the volunteers had to gather in Sagarejo at the school (our secondary consolidation point) as apart of the testing for the EAP (Emergency Action Plan). I was mid-hair cut with one of my clients at the time, so I found a stopping point and proceeded to pack my go-bag, which is the bag that has all of your essentials in case you need to jump ship in the case things go down hill.

The consolidation went alright, however people slowly trickled into the room over the course of 2 hours or so. That Tuesday, we had our office visit to Tbilisi, the capital. It was a great break in the usual routine, and so Krisanne, whose name is now Kristy or some variant by the Georgians, Andrew and I trickled down the road at 8:30 in the am to catch a marshutka to the office. We got to the office alright, minus a few snags on the part of bad directions from an old lady, however we were able to locate our lunch site in the process: Pizza, Pasta, Fantastico: a lovely little Italiano Ristorante on Kazbeghi street. The office was really neat and is situated only a few blocks from a Russian government agency, so the safety of the Peace Corps staff is in good hands, as it is doubtful that the Russians would increase any military aggression in this area. The next day, I prepared for the Supervisor’s conference where we were able to meet our directors and also a few counterparts were there for some people.

Now listening to: Esmeralda Suite from Kill Bill Vol. 1.
If you haven’t seen Kill Bill Vol. 1 I highly suggest that you run to your nearest netflix distribution center and steal it from them. I feel like this song really captures how I feel towards Peace Corps and Georgia. “I’m just a soul whose intentions are good, O Lord; please don’t let me be misunderstood!” I spent the past 4 days in a completely different community. We found out our sight placements on the hub day last Monday, and I was placed in Gardabani, which is about (according to my map of Georgia, thank you Tengo!) 15 or so km away from the border to Azerbaijan, and as such is an ethnic minority community.

Highlights of my trip include: a rapping grandma, aliens, fortune telling with instant coffee and listening to the homeopathic cures for various ailments at the town women’s birzha. A birzha traditionally is where men squat in somewhat of a circle and talk, generally about money, politics, or business in general. Also, it should be noted that beer is typically incorporated into the birzha, however in the women’s birzha in Gardabani, the beer is replaced with sunflower seeds.

So I was sitting there the first night, eating sunflower seeds, when I realized I hate the ordeal you must go through in order to extract the seed from the seed casing. This was the second time in Georgia where I had been offered sunflower seeds, however the first time I politely declined given the reason mentioned above. So I’m eating these seeds, looking for some logical reason why people eat them in the shell, and might I also mention that in Georgia, the sunflower seeds are tasteless and about half the size of the American variety. So I realized: the seeds give you something to do that isn’t too physically laborious.

My school that I will be teaching in has 36 computers, 700 students and 40 teachers of many nationalities. The school itself is one of 4 schools in the area, and is the only school that is known as the Russian school. Because of the many nationalities amongst faculty, it is just easier to speak Russian, as it was the common language in the Soviet period. This school is all in all, in need of some help, however compared to what schools I have seen so far in Georgia, it is state-of-the-art. One of the other schools near my PST (Pre-Service Training) village smells like gasoline in the classroom and ours that we are currently in is inhabited by birds and has a horse in the school yard. One day for training, Manana, our TEFL training teacher, was going to shut the door so as not to disturb people walking by, however, as she shut the door, she realized there were no panels in the door and it didn’t end up making much of a difference whether or not it was open or closed. Many schools don’t have electricity, most schools don’t have running water, and only a few of them have had maintenance since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The director of my school’s name is Flora. She says that Florida is her state in the US. She’s a sweetheart and I love her to death, and she believes in aliens. This I discovered in Signaghi (an old beautiful city east of Tokhliauri) walking on a tour of the city after the informal dinner for our Supervisor’s conference. She speaks Russian perfectly, is very well educated, is very proactive, and also thinks that before I leave, I should be married. She truly is amazing, and I cannot get over how helpful and welcoming she is. While I was in Gardabani, I met one of the teachers at my school that was at the women’s birzha, as she also lives in the same Soviet bloc apartment complex.

I live on the third floor in my own apartment which my host family owns! It’s amazing and beautiful, it is cool in temperature, has a kitchen and bathroom with a sit-down toilet and a hot water heater! I also have a king size bed which is only slightly shorter at the foot than the American king sizer. I’m very much looking forward to it. It was a bit of a culture shock to go from a Georgian village to a mostly Azeri city isolated from the rest of Georgia.

Also we never really got adequate cross cultural training on the Azeri culture, so we really didn’t have any idea what kind of culture we would be getting into. I talked with Mary today and she suggested that I could help in writing some form of cross cultural memo for minority communities for future volunteers, as the program is still fairly new and that way I can put that I’m published on my resume too lol.

As it was a very new experience, I was very, very glad to return to the greater of the two unfamiliars of Tokhliauri. Another difference is that Georgians eat quite a bit more food on average than Americans, in which I had decided to gain 20 lbs in the effort, however Azeris from what I saw in 3 days eat QUITE a bit less and I was so hungry the whole weekend. I was pretty sure I was going to lose hella weight and return a skeleton, but Mary (our country director’s assistant) mentioned that we get an additional food stipend which I can use for supplementary nourishment, so maybe the 20 lbs is still a go! I hope so at least. So far I have visually felt like I’ve gained weight, however when I weighed myself, it was only a couple of pounds more, but still good. So my weight now is at 170, wish me luck!

So in my new host family, I have 3 people. They are Azeris and consist of: a grandma (Galiya-60), a mom (Elmira-40), and son (Erjan-10). While my new family is much smaller than my current one, they are still very entertaining. My whole family is very stylish. My grandma wears denim blue eyeliner and floral, gauzy moomoos. My host mom wears black eyeliner which is somewhat reminiscent of an ancient Egyptian. She is very stylish and wears only high quality clothing and low-cut flattering tops/dresses. My host mom works out of the home as a sales person and on weekends sometimes will travel to Baku (city in Azerbaijan) where she has a third apartment. Also on the side, she charges 1 or 2 Lari (Georgian currency) for her to tell your fortune reading coffee grounds. It’s very interesting.

With 3 weeks left of PST, things are coming to a quick close. I will miss my current host family and the area very much, but will be back to visit for important holidays. I can’t believe I have been in Georgian for going on 7 weeks! Lol only 107 more to go! Let me know if you have any questions, comments or concerns and I will write again soon!

Love you all!