Saturday, August 14, 2010


I have now been in Kobuleti for four days. It is hard to tell when exactly I got here because the days just blend together. I am living with a family that owns a hostel. This has provided me with an opportunity to meet many different people. I have met families from around Georgia but also Armenia and Russia. The kids have been very entertaining. Some children from Gori taught me how to play some Georgian card games and also helped me expand my Kartuli vocabulary. Some of the words have escaped me now but the kids have made transitioning into a different area much easier. The varying levels of English that are spoken by the kids surprised me. I met a ten year old Constantine, who spoke incredible English while another 10 year old who spoke very little English.

Kobuleti and for the most part most of Adjara is going through vast amounts of infrastructure work. The main street that runs along the beach in Kobuleti has a large section of road that is dirt. I have seen the makings of what is new water lines being installed on the south part of the city. The street in front of my house is the road for what I call the Kobuleti bypass which is the road big 18 wheelers take to bypass going through the heart of the city. Most of these trucks are Turkish in origin with a few from Germany. The Armenians who were staying here told me that all the goods destined for Armenia must come through either Georgia or Iran because of the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Turkey and Armenia not having open boarder crossings.

I found out I will be working at Kobuleti Public School 3. Most Georgian schools are named by the city/town/village for which they are located and then simply have a number after them if needed. An example would be that if a village has only one school it is just the name of the village school. Most of the TLG (Teach and Learn with Georgia) volunteers have found that their school principals do not speak English. I have not found out if my principal does or not. I have yet to meet him or even speak to him. I did go to the Kobuleti Education Resource Center the other day. This reminds me of almost like a school district office back home where meetings and such take place. The walk to the resource center is only about 15 minutes but in the worst heat wave in Adjara in years the walk will not be done frequently until the temperature drops several degrees Celsius.

My host family dad is named Mamuka. He is really laid back and allows me to come and go as I please. This is rare compared to what some of my coworkers have been experiencing. My host mom is named Tea, pronounced Te-ah, she is a history teacher. The eldest daughter is named Salome, she is currently studying English in the United Kingdom for a few weeks. I have yet to meet the other kids. Mamuka’s parents are always here helping run the hostel as well as his sisters who are here off and on.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

First Days

The first days upon arrival in Georgia were a whirlwind.  Once we cleared immigration and picked up our bags the national media was standing at the gate as soon as we cleared what was customs though there was no one to check any of our bags.  We were then loaded on buses and taken to a hotel on the outskirts of Tbilisi.  The hotel is used for sports teams and included a pool hall and ping pong tables.  At night there was a pianist that played at the back of the hotel near the bar. 

Our orientation in Tbilisi included sightseeing and some basic information sessions.  The initial Tbilisi  There are people here from the Philippines, New Zealand, Australia), South Africa, Poland, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Canada, and I would say around half the states in the United States.  We also met the Minister of Education and Science at the Ministry headquarters.  orientation allowed us to get to know each other. (who lives in

Our days in Kutaisi were long and tiring.  Sitting in classrooms for around 8 hours a day left me occasionally feeling beaten down.  The Georgian language classes were very fast paced but included many helpful situations like how to pay and negotiate cabs, how to buy in a market, and how to say hello.  The afternoons were filled with sessions on how the Georgian education system works.  The schools are paid based on the number of students who attend the schools.  I need to find out if there is a school choice system or if there are boundaries for schools.  We were warned that a few Georgian English teachers may worry about our presence taking away from their ability to tutor kids on the side as a way to supplement their income.  I could see that being a possible issue in a small village but in a city that is far more doubtful just based on the student enrollment numbers.  We get to meet our host families tomorrow, apparently my host family is quite large.