Today is the first day of school…. again.
I have one school year of teaching and living in Georgia under my belt. I’m not gonna lie, it feels good. A good foundation to build on. I still have a ways to go in learning this culture, but at least now I have a sense of direction.
Since we live so far out from the center of town, Natia and myself with the students in my ‘neighborhood’ piled into a neighbor’s marshrutka to go to school this morning. I think it will serve as the school bus.
Same as last year, the front of the school was roped off for the first day of school ceremony. We got there extremely early (as per Natia’s personality), so I got to look around the school for the first time since last summer. Natia’s room was very ‘1st grade’; balloons, color pictures, note on desk, Jesus bookmark, books and most exciting- new computers for each student. The government is still doing that I see. Well done Georgia!
I went outside with everyone else to wait for the ceremony to start. Everything was eerily similar in my memory, but markedly different this time around from this point of view. I saw the parents come in with their little ones. They were dressed in their best ‘back to school’ clothes. They begin to cluster around their teacher like furry chicks. The older kids sauntering up in two’s and three’s and lurking in the back.
My rock start status from being a curiosity has tarnished some, but I still have love from my students. They intermittently came up and gave the traditional Georgian kiss. That was the welcome back I needed. It was soo good to see them!
The ceremony started very late this year because we were apparently waiting on the Mayor to come and say hello. (He was supposedly going to attend opening ceremonies for all five schools.) When he didn’t show up, the ceremony proceeded with poems, singing and dancing.
During the ceremony is when I also saw Elene (one of the co-English teachers) for the first time since last school year. She had gone to the States with an education program this past summer. The workshop was in Vermont, but they got to see NYC and Washington DC. She has the best experience and had sooo much to say. I love being able to see America for the first time through a Georgian’s eyes. I am most curious as to how she verbalizes the differences of the two countries. Her most favorite part of the trip was her tour past the Statue of Liberty. How fitting.
The ceremony ended with the ceremonial ringing of the bell by a first year student.
Since I am an elective teacher, we of course didn’t have classes. So we milled about initially, then another teacher told me to follow him into the book storage room. In this room, where books used to be stacked in the most uncoordinated fashion, was a table full of champagne, cakes, sweets and fruits. The books were also removed and now the walls were lined like a decent library. Upgrade!
The champagne really put the teachers in a good mood. Unfortunately only the teachers with elective classes could partake but we did so with force. The director of the school also joined us and we destroyed the champagne. I’m not gonna lie…I was buzzed. Happy first day of school.
But apparently the party wasn’t going to stop there. With what little Georgian I understood, they were planning an excursion later that day to Batumi. …Okay. We decided to meet back at the school at 5.
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
– Emma Lazarus, Statue of Liberty