Observations

So the other day, one of my co-teachers told me that the next day we would be observed by the principal. She informed me we were going to ‘back up’ in the curriculum and do a lesson from there.  (For you non-teachers, that basically means to teach a lesson the kids already know so they and teacher looks good.)

I was speechless. I had heard stories of coaching the students from other volunteers at other schools, but never here. My teachers even alluded to it before, but said they rejected the very idea.

We got an email at the beginning of the month from TLG saying they were going to observe all of us in school and interview our host homes in February. This announcement caused a lot of anxiety in the program because, well, no one likes to be observed or critiqued.

So my host mom cleaned the house like never before.  Either I’m getting used to the bathroom or it was cleaned and straightened up to American bathroom standards.

Having taught for several years before, observations are not that big a deal for me… usually. My worry now is which teacher they will observe me with. One is awesome. She integrates me in the lessons; she lets me do what I do best. Another seems to teach to me to try to impress me (or practice) with her English ability.  Yet another is trying really hard, but gets so frustrated with the overwhelming pressure to not only teach them English, but to do so at a very rapid pace. And the fourth, oh the fourth. Her classes are a shit show. It’s as if at times she is oblivious to students even being in the room. Zero classroom management…ZERO.  Once we walked in to a full-scale brawl in the room. They separated them, turned their backs and the kids started fighting again! It was bananas! And worst of all, she doesn’t use me. I feel like a very expensive, shiny, unused toy in her classes. So bottom line, if TLG observes me in her class, I’m screwed.

Which could have greater implications for my long-term plans. TLG just recently announced that current volunteers could request to stay an additional semester. Okay. I need more, but baby steps. However, if this observation goes poorly, it could potentially affect my extension status. Which would mean I would have to rethink my entire strategy (more on that in the next post).

I don’t mind the theory of observations, but in these instances, there is no standard method of observations. For example, just using the TLG observations, we don’t know what we are being ‘observed’ on. They aren’t observing us according the same age group. So since the objectives are unclear, it could be a skewed or biased observation, that for some (me) could have profound consequences.

***

He’s watching me watching you watching him
watching me.
I’m watching you watching him watching me
watching Stares.
He’s watching me watching you watching him
watching me.
He’s watching me watching you watching
the trains go by.
He’s watching me watching you watching him
watching me.
He’s watching me watching you watching him watching me.
He’s watching me watching you watching him watching me watching him watching.

Watching Me Watching You, Jethro Tull

Sushi

As mentioned before, I love eating fish. And the family knows it. Lado knew I also love sushi. (Lado hates fish. He is passionately opposed to the work one has to put into picking bones out in proportion to the amount of fish meat one actually gets to eat.)

I came down to eat second lunch the other day and on the table beside the fries potato slices and mashed potates was a plate of raw fish with slivers of raw onion on top.

…Okay.

I like sushi and all, but this was ridiculous. I sat down, but couldn’t help from staring at it. Was I REALLY going to man up and eat this? My mind started trying to do math equations to predict probability of getting food poisoning. I couldn’t even play it off. I needed assistance. I asked Lado was it cooked. He said, nope. Hmm…. I asked how was I supposed to eat it. Was there a method? Did I eat bones and all? He pondered for a second, then asked his mother. No, you do not eat the bones.

…Okay.

He had a little mercy on me and got a knife and cut a slice off the tail end. She said if I didn’t like it, go out back and spit it out. I peeled it open, deboned it, shut my eyes and popped it in my mouth.

It still had the sushi taste, which was good. That alone held back my hair trigger gag reflex. Actually…. it wasn’t that bad. If anything it was salty. I mentioned this to my host mom, and she says that’s what it was prepared in.  OH!!!!!  I get it, now. It’s not raw, raw, but more like a ceviche. I like ceviche!  But unfortunately it was too salty. I couldn’t eat it alone. I think they recognized this about the fish before I pointed it out, beside they served it with the assortment of potatoes.

I could only eat half a fish, which I thought was a huge accomplishment.

***

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Still Lost In Translation

My lead co teacher is applying for an English teacher program held in the States.  She is super nervous about it. She also has virtually no Internet experience and it’s an online application. She is preparing and handwriting the answers to the questions and prompts at home and I am typing them up for her during the school day. That way, when all is done, we can just cut and paste into the online forms.

The other day, she shows me two of the parts she has completed. I read over them and find very few errors. If anything, they were simply words that didn’t read correctly and needed to be switched out. Towards the end, I noticed she used the phrase, English language and stuff.” I told her to just omit that phrase as its not needed. She protested and said that it was. We then got into a short argument about the word. She said that’s what they call her group. I suggested the idea of using colleagues. She refused, then tried to use the trump card of, “Well, it’s a British word and they said its okay to use British used words.” (They do that when we are at odds about teaching the kids various things; i.e., rubber vs. eraser, trousers vs. pants, have got vs. simply ‘have’.) But I responded this time that Americans will be reading her application and they will think she is trying to be informal and use teenage slang.

We both backed off for a while,  but came back around to the dispute. She asked me again what it meant. I thought for a second and said, a random assortment of items together. For example, ‘I have stuff in my bag’. or ‘Your stuff is in your pocket book’.  She paused for a second and took a second look at me. Then as a light bulb went off in her her she says, “Ahh, I understand! Stuff… things…!”  Then she says that maybe its not the word she thought. And she wrote on the paper S…T…A…F…F.

Yes!! That sentence makes perfect sense now!

And we laughed and laughed! She even told the story to the rest of the loosely assembled teachers in the room.

 

***

 

My Name is Sanchezi And I’ll Be Your Tamada Tonight

Friday night, I went to turn on the water pump in the kitchen so I could take a shower with hot water. I noticed there were some extended family members present. Which means one thing- SUPRA!

After my shower, sure enough, I was called down to eat.

Supras are truly amazing experiences. No matter how larger or small, they all have an energy that can’t be duplicated any other way. This was a small one. The visitors were only Eka’s niece and her husband.

One difference at this dinner was they broke out the Maker’s Mark. When I came to Georgia my gift to the family were bottles of Maker’s Mark and Jack Daniels. I chose these knowing that drinking was a integral part of the culture, so why not bring some from America. They put both of the bottles in the glass cabinet and haven’t opened either… until last night. I don’t know why, but I’m glad they did. Everyone tried some, but I think only the host dad liked it. He kept saying, “This is fantastic!”. The grandpa apparently didn’t like it (I don’t even think he tasted it) as he rapidly left to get the wine.

I was asked to be the tamada, which is a lot of pressure. You just can’t simply say, “Gamarjos!” and drink, you have to think of and say mini speeches every ten or so minutes. After four shots of Marker’s Mark  (I was afraid we were going to finish the bottle), we switched to wine. Needless to say, we were lit.

We had great conversation and great fellowship. Towards the end, they asked if I knew any poems. Nope. Then if I could sing. I think I can, but was too shy and they wouldn’t have known the songs anyway. I asked if they could sing, and after a rapid, ‘yes’, the grandpa broke out in a verse, quickly followed by the nephew.

Poly harmonic singing is just as famous in Georgia as is their wine. I hadn’t really heard it yet, but at the kitchen table, they gave me a mini concert. Two of the parts were sung by the grandpa and nephew and the third by the niece. It was extremely good. I couldn’t help smiling .

I think I made a pretty good tamada… with the assistance of my old friend Maker’s Mark, of course!

***

There’s too many things that I haven’t done yet
Too many sunsets
I haven’t seen
You can’t waste the day wishing it’d slow down
You would’ve thought by now
I’d have learned something

Many The Mile, Sarah Bareilles

Winter Has Passed

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If you know me, you are aware that I am painfully opposed to cold weather. And coming to Georgia, I had to brace myself for the coldest, snowiest longest winters of my life. Last year, they said it snowed everyday during the month of February. Everyday.

But fortunately this year, it has been extremely mild even for my standards. I was a little disappointed, but I am NOT going to complain. The days are getting longer, the birds are chirping and the buds are blooming!

I bet you can actually SEE the smile on my face!

***

Winter’s cold spring erases
And the calm away by the storm is chasen
Everything good needs replacing
Look up, look down, all around, hey satellite

Satellite, Dave Matthews Band

Just Dance

Without further ado…

 

 

 

***

It’s like I’ve waited my whole life for this one night
It’s gonna be me you and the dance floor
’cause we’ve only got one night
Double your pleasure
Double your fun and dance
Forever (ever, ever)
Forever (ever, ever)
Forever (ever, ever)
Forever girl forever
Forever (ever, ever)
Forever (ever, ever)
Forever (ever, ever)
Forever on the dance floor

Forever, Chris Brown

Brooke’s Birthday Weekend: Beginning and Ending

Arrived in Tbilisi early Friday morning. I don’t know why they have the trains arrive into cities before normal business hours. Tbilisi was literally still asleep. I caught a taxi from the train station to my friends’ neighborhood called Vake. Word is, it’s a posh part of the city. It was too dark for me to tell. Fortunately my friends answered the phone and opened the door for me.  Everyone understandably was still passed out. I quietly asked a dude I had never met before to push over a little on the pull out sofa, just so I could lay down. He was nice enough to even share the blanket with me. Friends for life! Three hours later, we all were awake enough to start our day. First Stop- lunch. Followed by Natural Hot Sulfur Baths.

***

Friday night after eating great shawarma, we went back to the hostel to prepare for the nightlife. We met a girl at the hostel from Poland named Kesha. She had heard about Georgia and its hospitality and decided to hop on a plane and see for herself. She is a true traveller. Next month she plans on going to Japan.

We add her to our crew for the night and go hit the bars. We start at Canudos Bar (my favorite) first. It’s too smoky in the cold months, but in the warmer weather months, it’s the BEST hangout. After Canudos, we followed Kesha to a club she had heard about from a Georgian she had met earlier in the week. I loved this club as soon as I set foot inside. It played techno music but the DJ was amazing and got better and better as the night progressed. Kevin wasn’t feeling it, so he left pretty shortly after we arrived. Erin, my party co-pilot, put up a great effort, but faded too. I hit a wall around 4 a.m. and decided to not push through only because had to go skiing at 8 the following morning.

But that will not be the last time I see that club.

***

Sunday was a beautiful day in Tbilisi. Erin, Kevin and I strolled down Rustavili Ave. headed in the direction of an America chicken place, Texas Chicken. I was going to get a shawarma myself. But Erin suggested we go to the Hanger Bar and we detoured toward Old Town.

The Hanger Bar is an American owned bar with an Irish/ Pilot theme. The beauty of this place is that you can loose yourself and be transplanted briefly back to America. Especially with the hamburgers, chicken strips, fries, and beers we ordered sitting in a booth watching college conference basketball on ESPN.

Erin and me at Hanger Bar.

Erin and me at Hanger Bar.

We stayed there for a good 6 hours. To the point that I was getting nervous about getting my stuff out of the hostel and getting to my train on time. I didn’t want to have another… nearly unfortunate situation. But Paula can speak great Georgian and got us a taxi to the hostel and then to the train station with plenty of time to spare.

It was a great end to a great weekend.

Goodbye Tbilisi! Happy Birthday Brooke!!!!

***

Sippin on coke and rum
I’m like so what i’m drunk
It’s the freakin weekend baby 
I’m about to have me some fun

Ignition, R.Kelly