This is the true story of a Puertorican who joined the Peace Corps in June 2006. This blog chronicles my misadventures in the Country of Georgia and in NO way represents the Peace Corps, its mission or its views. It is my personal blog!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Is It Springtime Yet?

Good question. We've moved away from the deep freeze and into the chaotic transition into spring. March is known for its crazy weather. Exhibit A: Last Monday it snowed, Tues and Wed were gorgeous 60+deg weather, Thurs was incredibly windy and the weekend was a mix of rain and wind. Fickle weather anyone?

But March hasn't been all that bad. Last week a fellow PCV from Azerbaijan came up to visit me. I got to play tourguide as I took her to the local sites in the region (Shida Kartli). One of the sites we went to was Uplistsikhe, a cave city dating back to 1000 BC. This ancient site is rich in history. It was a major center of paganism before Georgia converted to Christianity. You can see the remains of ancient temples. The view was amazing as always. My initial impression of the cave city was "It's Bedrock!" I had the Flintstone's theme song playing in my head the entire time I was would too if you had been there!

Writing Olympics Success!

Last Saturday, Gori held its 2nd annual Writing Olympics competition. It took place at the local university and the turnout was fantastic. We had 197 participants from grades 6-11th. Each grade level was given a list of 3-4 topics. From there, it was up to the student to select one and write for up to an hour about it. Students not only came from the various Gori schools but also from nearby villages. Writing Olympic competitions have been taking place all over Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan this past month. On Saturday, all the Georgian entries will be judged by PCVs. Winners will be selected for regional, national and best of caucasus awards for each grade level.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Another Week Done

This week we held our second Eco-Club meeting. The students talked about problems facing their community and then we discussed ways to resolve them. One even designed a poster with strung-out teens with "Don't ruin your life" written across it! We considered hanging it up, but the fact that nearly everyone who would see it would not know English and would only see "hooligans" presented a problem. I'll take a pic and post it up soon!
For English Club, I showed them an episode of the Ghostbusters cartoons. So now there's going to be a cult following in Gori. Sliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimer!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Just Call Me Professor

This past week, Nona and I held our first discussion group with local university students. About 30 girls showed up and they all spoke excellent English. For many it was their first opportunity to speak with a native English speaker. Since it was an all-female audience, we had a lot of fun and talked about a whole range of topics. And of course towards the end of the class, the conversation drifted towards Lost and they started speculating about the plotlines which was all sorts of fun to hear. (For you Lost fans out there, they just started showing season 2.)

And in other news, last week was chock full of holidays. On 3 March, they celebrated Women's day. I went to a concert done by the 8th graders. Here's a picture of one of the dancers from the Adjara region. On 8 March, we celebrated International Women's day which is a very big affair here. No worries, I never heard about it either when I was living in the States.

The second picture is from sunset the other day. It was taken from my beloved pechi room. I can't imagine the day when I'll feel comfortable to put my heater away!

1/3 Already?

March marks the completion of 1/3 of my service in the Republic of Georgia. Only 18 months left to go. I started off the New Year with a resolution to be a better volunteer. The first few months at site were tumultuous to say the least. I no longer had the comfort of a "training atmosphere." I was on my own, living with a host family, and trying to adjust to the Georgian way of life. Dealing with each day's new trials, I was forced to adapt or breakdown. I'm happy to say that I've become a much more flexible person--but not by choice! Working on "Georgian time" made me learn to be a better improviser, to relax, andmost of all slow down!

Now that I have developed my comfort level and am feeling more confident with my work, I have started secondary projects. In school, I team-teach grades 5-9 with Nona, my counterpart. Outside of class, I have 2 weekly English clubs. It's an opportunity for me to learn more about my students and to foster a fun environment speaking English. I'm also happy to say that I am now a successful grant writer. For the last few months I have been working with my Principal and counterparts to secure a room for an English Cabinet (resource room). Through community contributions we secured a bookcase, desks, chairs, a computer and Internet access. The grant proposal, which was approved last week, will provide a wall-length white board, books, and teaching equipment. The room is currently undergoing renovations and should be finished by the end of the month.

Outside of school, I've become more involved in the community. As a volunteer, I'm lucky to have an American Corner in my site since there are only 6 inthe country. The American Corner is a US embassy funded English resource center. In Gori it is located in the central library. It provides access to books, computers, Internet, speaker programs, etc. Every weekI hold club meetings there for secondary school children. Together with my site mates we have an English Club, Eco-Club (promoting environmental awareness), and a prep course for the National University Entrance Exam (aka SATs). My focus is promote the AC to Gori's youth since it mostly attracts adults. I'm happy to say that it's working and more and more youngsters are benefiting from theAC's resources. At the end of the month, I will hold the Writing Olympics competition in Gori. The Writing Olympics is a Caucasus-wide English creative writing competition for students in grades 6-11. The competition is partof a PCV initiative to encourage creative thinking and writing. Students compete regionally, nationally, and Caucasus-wide with students in Armenia and Azerbaijan. Writing Olympics is just one way to get our students excited about writing and win some cool awards in the process.

So that's what my life will look like for the next 3 months and then I can recuperate for 2 weeks when I go back home to visit. In the meantime I can expect to enjoy another month of winter when hopefully things will warm up a bit! And like I said before...only 18 months! How time flies.