Tuesday, September 28, 2010

60 Days In

I have now been in Georgia for around 60 days.  Some of the days have felt like some of the longest days of my life while others rank as some of the shortest due to all the fun I've had.

The past few weeks has afforded me time to think and to analyze my educational experience thus far.  I, a few weeks ago, found myself only sounded by a stream of negative thoughts.  I must admit when you are thousands of miles from home, with a broken laptop (my charger basically caught on fire), in a city where the nearest native English speaker is half an hour away on foot, the ability to see negative is there.  

I must remain focused on why I am here and what I know I can do.  My attitude towards students is one that I would say was not the same when I was growing up.  I would have preferred to move on to new material rather than wait for others to learn.  I have learned though that this style is very much still in effect here.  Thus my modified attitude has brought a change in the classrooms that I enter.

I have begun to bring the under performing, often ignored, students to the front of attention by actually having them participate in class.  The current system appears to just allow those that do not understand the first time to just sit back and just never get it.  I can not force that type of massive attitude change alone, I must show others and lead by example.  The students who now sit at the back of the room now realizes that they are more likely to be called on to read or to answer a question.  More pages of "glass half empty" could be written but you probably do not care to read all of that.  

I continuously remind myself of why I am here.  I am here to teach the English language to a population that, until recently, a majority of have never seen a native English speaker.  I remain optimistic when I see the members of my host family greet me with a good morning.  I am encouraged when the teachers at my school say hello or good morning Jason in English rather than saying it in Georgian.  

These may seem like such small "victories" but in a country that gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and is still recovering from a war with Russia in 2008 this is quite significant. The students at Kobuleti 3 surely do not realize how fast this country is speeding towards modernization.  The unforationate situation is that the students who do not try now in school and actually graduate or go on to pursue higher education or a technical skill will not benefit from the changes that are quickly modernizing this country.  

The students that misbehave surely do not realize that when Trump Towers, Hyatt, Hilton, or the Radisson look to begin hiring in the coming years they will look to employ multi-lingual people who behave and do as they are told.  When more airlines announce service to airports in Georgia these students do not realize that those jobs go to people who can speak more languages than just Georgian.  

These facts make the goal of the currently hundreds of volunteers here in Georgia even more important.  We are helping to grow the base knowledge of the English language to these students.  Our success will help determine their future.  Those students who choose to attend university must take an English exam to gain admission.  Their success on the exam will decide which university they will attend.  That reason alone is a major encouragement.  I can single-handed shape the future of my students by educating them about the English language.

Over the course of the last several weeks, the month of September, I have been trying to focus on what the deeper meaning of me being in Georgia is.  I have turned my focus to the book of Proverbs in hopes of trying to further understand.  I have sought wisdom and found understanding.  Proverbs shed light on my attitude and helped me to realize that I needed to be an encourager and not one who discourages.  Looking at the glass half empty would be so much easier to do but I have been too blessed to focus on that.