Today I ran out of minutes on my phone. Which meant I couldn’t text or call anyone nor could anyone call or text me. In a country where your lifelines are other English speakers, this was a huge problem. But as I live in a town, it was a quick fix. Just a jaunt to Main Street. Done.
On the way, I pass a restaurant which, I gather, is either rather high end (for Ozurgeti) or caters only to large parties. As I was passing, I recognized one of my 3rd grade students smiling at me. I waved and she initiated with the one-two combo of, “Hello. How are you?” I stopped and gave her the ol’, “I’m well! And you?”, which usually trips them up. But she then countered and retorted with the solid, “I’m fine, thank you!”
As a friend here commented, Georgia will at least have the politest English speakers.
**Real-time side note: Ray Charles’ ‘Georgia On My Mind’ is playing on my computer speakers. I want to turn it up and blast it. It feels like a massage. Even better if it were from a record player… **
Met my friends in town and Caroline was on a hunt for corn. In the supermarket, I saw the student that I tutor, Nika. He ran up to me with our notebook to show me that he had finished copying all of the letters I wanted him to work on!
Which reminds me of a story from Friday… actually two. I am comfortable enough with my classes that I want to now reach out to high school students, especially since they are my original passion. So I’m starting to stop by some of the classes and speak more to them in the halls. Well I was standing alone in the main lobby and these two students slowly passed by. They slowed enough to where they could say, “hello” and try to engage in conversation. I said hello back, then asked their names. They responded with great diction, so I pressed further. “What grade are you in?” The one closest to me smiled and nodded in the affirmative, and walked away dragging her friend in tow. Okay.
They circled back around and I asked a different way. Same thing… head nod. Walk away. Third circle…. they decide to get reinforcements of potential people who might speak a couple of more words than they do. Next pass… fail. And finally, on the fourth pass, they reach out to my neighbor across the street from where I live. She is comfortable enough with me to help work through the translation problems and set the other two girls at ease. And by this time I figured out how to mime what I wanted to say for them to understand. They were in the Eighth grade. Good. Communication transmitted. Fifth pass… They asked to take pictures with me. Okay.
Second story. I was in my student Nika’s English class and the last activity was to get them to match the Arabic numbers with the English word for it. She called them up one by one. (The previous night we worked on sounding out colors and numbers.) Nika is not a strong English student in the class. As a matter of fact, he might currently be the least knowledgeable of English. But he was raising his hand, which I think shocked the teacher. She called on her, and my heart skipped a beat. He walks up to the board, takes the chalk and points to the word ‘eight’ and looks at the teacher. She nods in ascent. He then points to the Arabic number for eight, and looks at the teacher. She approves and he proceeds to draw his line from the word to the number! I did an internal happy dance. He then did a slow walk back to his seat, as if to say to the class, “No Big Deal”. But when he made eye contact with me standing at the back of the class, he runs up to me and gives me a hug.
He and I are going to shock the world!
(Back to today) Caroline didn’t find Corn.
The salesclerk behind the counter was a family friend, so we exchanged pleasantries. And a little way further down the street I saw a wickedly start English student who I have in the 4th grade.
We went up to my friend’s apartment with some beer and popcorn and huddled around a laptop to watch a movie.
I wanted to get home before dinner was served. Bebia was serving a new (new to me) dish; a homemade dumpling filled with a cheese-like filling. And I don’t say cheese-like to imply its imitation cheese. I say cheese-like to mean, its made with same cheese making process, but they do something different at the very end. And I’m not versed well enough in dairy products to figure it out. Bottom line, I didn’t want to miss it. So I came home and shot the breeze with Lado and his mom and played with Nino until dinner was ready.
All that to say, I’m building community within my little town and it feels good.
“I want to live in the center of a circle
I want to live on the side of a square
I’d love to walk to where we can both talk but
I’ve got to leave you cause my ride is here.”
Home Life, John Mayer