Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Mood of May

Let's see. You may be wondering to yourself: I wonder what shenanigans Jefferson has gotten himself into lately. I want to share my story, brace yourselves.

Last we spoke, I was mourning the loss of one of the crew. Of the new group, they are still held together like glue. I went on that Friday to Bolo Zari (Last Bell/Call). Little did I know how joyful it would be. They made a shout out to everyone but me. But alas! I am still carefree. I had always known the twelfth grade was not "keen" on me.

Then Flap came to my town for a visit. We made creations of hamburgers right in my only skillet. I made the buns from scratch with some bar-b-q sauce. If only you knew how much this sauce was the boss. There frosted brownies covered in chocolate. Flap was a dear and financed most of this out of her pocket. <3 you girl!

The next Tuesday I had many a meeting. First in the Ministry to give the new GHSEP (Georgian High School Exchange Program) folks a warm welcome greeting. In less than a month, I will be teaching. They will learn of American culture from our knowledge and preaching.

I unfortunately had not time for my Russian lessons due to all the tizzy. But I was able to cram some in after this point upon settling back in my hizzy. My time has felt consumed from all of this GHSEP planning. Had I not been in amazing company, I probably would've spent my time tanning. However, I have not had time to purchase some new tile. I still want to remodel my deck to go the extra mile.

I started lessons of Georgian folk dance. I've thus far gone for two weeks and am giving it a fair chance. More planning came followed the next day by a picnic. It was chill, good to see everyone, and most of all scenic! I stayed the night with my host with the most. I'll call him "Soul Server" because that's what's in him to do. For three days and two nights I crashed at his place. His host mom, most of all, loves his little face. I watched the cluster's classes, and things are coming along well. I didn't want to go back, as I was caught off guard by the PST spell. Georgians commemorate their independence on the 26th of May. With a grand concert and friends, I was was able to celebrate this day.

With Russian and dance, I continue my education. I add teaching computers and English build this conflagration. Walking down the halls of school, I see a running child hit the wall. I tell the nurse she says, "Again?!" and rushes down the hall. So as this month comes to a end, I think only 14 more! And I'll return to you my friends.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dedicated to the Fallen Blackberry

Hey dudes and dudettes!

Writing to you live from the Old Testament. You may wonder why? Well, it seems as though the plague of flies has ended, and the plague of moths (?why??) has begun! I was the lord of the flies by no stretch of the imagination, and here I am now: the mothman... What more is to come? I have killed a couple spiders in my bathroom, but I don't feel so bad, because I know there still at least one in there.

I was able to go into Tbilisi yesterday and do a little fix-o change-o on the school's computer purchased with the grant money I applied for. I wasn't exactly provided private transportation, so I am pretty sure I have a bruise on my shoulder from having the CPU strapped to my back, but there's peace of mind in knowing that it is fixed. I also got some important papers signed for the school, and I'm making my director happy = good.

I was wondering why I was starving this afternoon, because I kept forgetting that the gas has been out, but low and behold, around 5 or 6 the gas came back on! Gas + electricity = hot water to do the dishes and hot food. I didn't have anything else I could've made without gas.

While in Tbilisi yesterday, the hours dwindled into twilight and I missed the last marshrutka (mini-bus) back to my site. I go to the PC "guest house" and come across 1 current volunteer and 3 new trainees! I learn that one of the trainees was going home in the morning. 1 was staying in the guest house to get some rest. And 1 was illin, but she's a trooper, so the three of us (2 noobies and myself) set out on the town. I wanted to show the noobies a good time. We went to one of my favorite restaurants (a little pricey), went to get some gelato afterwords, and we went for a little site-seeing tour through some of the more beautiful parts of the capital. It was really glad to get to know the trainee who was illin, she's very cool, and I predict good times will be had yet to come (if that makes sense). However, I was really sad to see the other trainee leave. It's kind of weird how I haven't known her for that long, but yet she left such an impression. One might even say, she integrated.. :) Nevertheless, I think that's a dark cloud hanging over me today.

I am really grateful that one of the trainees, BPRSI, is here. It's a good group of trainees! They all can put a smile on my face.

In other news, my apartment looks like an explosion has taken place and is in need of a cleaning/tidying. My water filter still needs to get replaced, but Rome wasn't built in a day ya know...

Did I mention that today is St. Andrew's Day? I hope you celebrated it well.

One of the good things about "Fallen Blackberry" is that before she left, she transferred a ton of her digital material to my external hard drive. There are seemingly endless hours of media watching ahead of me.

This Friday is my schools "Last Call" or "Bolo Zari." It's where the 12th graders will celebrate their graduation. It's a huge deal that starts around 11 or 12 in the day and goes on for a little while. This Friday is also an important event for FLEX and additionally an afternoon planning opportunity for PDO... I kind of feel torn as to what I should do. Maybe I'll flip a coin? I really do want to stay in my site for more than one week. Possibly on Saturday I'll be giving Flap a haircut. Flap, if you read this... let me know if you're coming.

I want to start baking. I need to begin some emotional eating and baked goods always make me feel better. Emotional eating is better than alcoholism, so I'm supportive of it. Mostly just eating. I love eating. I feel like one of those dogs that stuffs itself when you put any food down. It will eat until it will die and our stipends control when we can eat. Back to earlier, i don't really have anything to be emotional about, but I know I have a lot of feelings in general. Emotions are good, so why not add chocolate chips and eat them?

Tomorrow will be an interesting day: 1)A morning Russian lesson- I haven't done the homework because of preoccupation with thinking, but also I've never had a morning Russian lesson so far in Georgia 2) English club- hopefully students come!!! (I had one on Monday) 3) New private student. It's a dangerous situation to have private students. I've turned down so many parents, and there are so many English teachers that would be pissed about losing the income. Luckily, this girl currently doesn't have a private tutor, but it's something that can upset the community balance. There's a part of me that feels like it's a good thing. This girl is Azeri, one of the minority community. I still have another year here, and in that year, I could really advance her language. She's young and seems really motivated, so it's possible that by the time I leave, she could be prepared to make some great changes in the world. I think of course, this latter vibe is something a little to idealistic, but it's good to have your head in the clouds every now and again. I'll keep ya'll updated.

These are all the things running through my head. I'm off to dream a little dream, so hopefully I'll see you there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Green peace, sleeves, trees, and... goblins?

To quickly follow up with where we were last: not spending a lot of money is going well, a few snags in the teacher trainings I have been doing, planning has been going very well for FLEX PDO, and general excitement.

So I have been maintaining an excel file and have put a stop to the drain on my bank account = good. I would never have considered myself a liberal spender, as in America, none of us had such low pay, but that's one of the major components of Peace Corps: to live modestly on host country standards, at least that's my take on things. So the concept of going out to eat really has an impact on your bank account. I'll keep you updated on any additional changes. So far, so good. The best thing that I enjoy, while it may be a time of hardship, is that I have been able to stay financially secure. I don't have to worry about paying for bills, because they are covered from my allowance.

The thought has crossed my mind that perhaps living on my own was a mistake and I should've stayed in a host family, but I would have to be in a house, not an apartment, and, in my community, I have already become associated with 1 host family. It would hurt their and my community image for me to live with a different family, especially given the tensions in the minority town I live in.

Something that I have been reflecting on is that things which bother you, generally will not carry to bother you in the future. There were positions I have been in in jobs, living situations, school, etc that I was very uncomfortable, however, now, they have no impact on me. This helps me cope with some of the difficult situations I go through occasionally here. I know that in the future I will look back and see these things as good memories or something I can laugh about.

Also, we've had some snags with my computer training. I know that they will get unkinked soon, but it's definitely frustrating. Last Wednesday, the CPU stopped functioning. Then Friday, the projector was being finicky. Luckily, on Friday I figured out the real problem was communicating between my laptop and the projector. CPU aside, the equipment we purchased is really quality. Today during a lesson, I used the speakers to hook up my iPod and we did a listening activity.

I have really been enjoying the Economist podcast. It has been keeping me up to date on world events, and their articles go pretty in depth on international issues. I definitely don't want to disconnect from the real world while here.

I am happily looking forward to the day that I can play computer games again. I know this is nerdy, but I miss World of Warcraft. :)

I planned this weekend for the FLEX PDO (Predeparture Orientation) for the kids going to study in US high schools for 1 year! I am very excited for this experience, but I want it to go through without a hitch, which takes a lot of planning. In all, we have 8 sessions to do. We have created the visual aids for 3 sessions, and planned in depth for 2. We will be ready!

I finished my last book in my reading-for-fun initiative and am eager to see what will be my next.

I miss being in my community, and have also been working on creating a balance between my work in my school and my projects. I need to plan for my Russian lessons, computer lessons, regular lessons, and possibly a private student I have been battling to take on from being busy.

I think that's about all! I'm going to Tbilisi this week to meet with a teacher training organization, hopefully to fix the CPU, and I forgot to mention my water filter has been not functioning properly for quite some time, and as it is so big, it's difficult for me to take it to Tbilisi to get it fixed.

Another point I may have failed to mention: I had left my sleeping bag on a marshrutka coming back from the nature hike in Telavi at the beginning of May. I thought it was gone forever. I was shocked when the driver called me to tell me he had my sleeping bag, however it was in Telavi. I had written my name and phone number on the side of the sleeping bag in the identification card space. One volunteer, Fray, à la compagnie de his beautiful wife, Bruyère, picked up the sleeping bag from the marshrutka station and additionally brought it to Tbilisi! I am so greatful, and now have the sleeping bag back in my possession. To be accomplished now are the CPU and the water filter.

Then apparently the school needs some paperwork to be filled out for the purchasing of the projector or something, which also needs to be done, but frankly, it's not as of utmost importance to meet at this point in time.

Ok well, I've bubbled over some so I might as well continue... I helped my friends Claus and Wilhelmina set the trail for the Hash House Harriers, an international running group that drinks beer after they run. I had never set a trail before ever. They use flour to mark the trails, for runners and walkers. This trail was to be staged in Tbilisi proper. We ran into several cleaning people who believed we were polluting the environment, dirtying their city, and hurting their jobs for being paid. I explained that this was only flour for an international group, and that it was important for the tourism in Georgia. Still, there were some people who told us we were not allowed to do so as it was filth. I mentioned to one lady in particular, among the others, that it would rain and wash away the flour. She posed the question,"But what if it doesn't rain!?" Really? Never rain ever again? Come on lady. Georgia needs tourism, among other things. There really are awesome sights to see, and I personally love Tbilisi. It just baffles me that so many people that day were resistant to the idea of bringing money into their country. Coming down from my mini-soapbox, I can say it was a good weekend.

PPPPPS- It's gonna be a HOT summer!
PPPPPPS- Sorry for there not being goblins. But if it's any resolution to this problem, I had a crazy dream last night? I don't know where the characters were from, but I don't think I made them up. There was this boulder I was leaning on to write some information, and I was writing over this hole that had stuff in it. I apologized (for some reason) to the boulder and stood up. A voice responded,"Don't worry about it!" I look down and see a huge cream-colored snake worming around inside of the hole. I was terrified! Then I jump away and think I see a giant cockroach doing a sideways handstand near one of the holes. The angle of the sun was bad, so I couldn't really tell. I get closer to the rock and it disappears into the holes. There were three to five other holes in this boulder. I go back to doing what I was doing, turn around and see it again pop up. I step closer. It disappears into the hole. This process happens a couple more times, before it pops up again. I get closer and closer, but still can't make out what it is. It's deep black with long and thin whispy hairs on the top of it's black, crisp, shiny, almond-shaped form. I get closer, and it flicks open to reveal an eye, staring with a dead look. It totters to and fro, slowly rising up from the hole. The eye is connected to a wedge-shape, reminiscent of a large slice of deep-dish pizza, with two scrawny, black, bird feet. The wedge opens as a mouth and begins talking. We chat about various things, and this strange creature mentions his friend who used to live in the hole. His friend was very small, doll-like in stature, disfigured by a wrinkled shrunken head, featuring a frozen smile, unnaturally wide, below two beady, cruel, black eyes. The wedge notes that I was lucky, his friend was not living there, or I would have been killed, as the doll-man was crazy and had a machine gun he used to extinguish any one or thing who would approach the rock. Then, as I heard echoes of cruel laughter, a chill washing over me broke me from slumber.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

O Happy Day!

Ok so the blog title may be a little over the top. I would first like to shout out to the new volunteers that arrived last wednesday! Twill be a good 2 years! I am coming up on the 1 year mark since I arrived in Georgia! The summer is coming and all kinds of interesting things are afoot: my computer class I started teaching 5 hours a week, new volunteers and helping out with their training, studying for whatever test I'm going to take (GMAT 1st then GRE again?), reading for fun (it hasn't gotten old yet!), working on teacher trainings, preparing to teach FLEX Pre-departure Orientation (PDO), and maintaining a social life! It's rough.

We are back into feeling like spring time, there was a pretty bitter cold snap that almost warranted getting out some winter clothes, but I resisted.

I would like to point out one thing that makes me a further step Georgian: wearing a scarf when your throat hurts... I think it's a good idea! Ahh! O well, you give a little and take a little I guess.

I'm getting ready also for a fall course: Special topics in strategic and international studies, discussions in English. I will be teaching this course in the international studies center in Marneuli. I will probably spend a good time preparing for this in the summer time.

The months plan themselves, and the weeks are flying by. It's a good feeling. The periods of culture shock and homesickness are becoming less and less, but still exist, of course. I just know that when I get back, I will destroy some American made cuisine.

Also, I talked with my landlord and she said that she will come by next weekend and we will see what we can do to fix the bug migration into my apartment.

I am wanting to go on a hunt for a few pieces of art to slap on these walls to make it feel more comfortable and also some hanging lamp shades to put over these bare bulbs. BUT I must be careful. Recently, my spending has increased exponentially...which is not good on the Peace Corps stipend... :(

That is all my dears.