Mid Year Conference

This weekend, TLG had a mid year conference. We all met at a hotel in Kutaisi called Tskaltubo Spa and Resort.  It is said to be a former resort conference center for the high officials of the Soviet Union. Once you got past the awkwardness of the heaviness and stark ‘hardness’ of the architecture, it was actually a pretty good place to reenergize. They call these types of resorts, sanatoriums. Which for me conjures up historical images of out of the way centers of healing, where quack doctors and specialist enticed people to visit, by claiming the newest unorthodox method to heal various ailments.


Tskaltubo Spa and Resort


Tskaltubo Spa and Resort

As I mentioned in past posts, TLG shook-up the roster the volunteers here. I call it, “The Purge”. As of September of this school year, in addition to the 25 still here working in the program they added another 60+.  So I went into the conference knowing I wouldn’t know that many people. And I still had negative verve from thinking of the prospect of spending energy on getting to know them, when they, too would soon leave the country.  But my nature won’t allow me to be around new people and NOT  get to know them.


Unbeknownst to me, TLG started another program where native Georgians can also volunteer to go into rural schools and teach English. It was so cool and refreshing to see these Georgians telling their stories. It was like seeing a glimpse of the future of the program and  of Georgia.


The morning after the first evening at the resort, we were all at breakfast. At a lull in the conversation, someone brought up being happy about taking a shower. We all yelled in agreement! Not just ‘take a shower’, because some of us, me included, have that convenience. But it was the QUALITY of the shower- hot water…high pressure… enclosed tub… clean tub… inside in the heated room… enclosed from the outside weather. Heavenly! It was soo funny that we were all thinking the exact same thing. Some of us purposed to take two a day. My roommate took a bath.   …the little things.


Words can not express how impressed and infatuated we are with our staff member, Tamara. She is the orientation coordinator for TLG. So EVERYONE who comes to this county to work with this organization is hand held through the initial shock of Georgia by her. She was obviously there this weekend with us. And she STILL remembers my name! She is simply awesome. On one of the last nights of the conference, she walks by our room as we were drinking and we begged her to stop in for a while….  and she does! And gives us a toast, too!   Classy. It’s like having a celebrity do a shot with you in a local bar. Insane.

In the same vein, I knew there was a DJ in the building we had the presentations. But none of the people that I knew and were hanging out with were going or even mentioning going. So I went over solo just to check it out one night around 1 o’clock. There were a couple of people sitting and hanging out in this lounge where the music was playing. I came in, took a trip around to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.  As I was about to leave, one of the TLG staff called me over. She said, ‘You are SANCHEZ JOHNSON, yes?”  Why, yes I am!  She said that she was impressed with my service here in Georgia and that she wanted to meet me and introduce herself. How fun and humbling is that?

Two more stories in the category of “recognition”: I was hanging out in the infamous room 126. It was packed out. But a conversation was struck up with someone I thus far had yet to meet. She mentioned that she had recognized me by my blog. I love that. Talk about warm fuzzies. The process is so voyeuristic but yet so intimate and personal.

And lastly, the main reason we were there was to make presentations on our various regions. I must confess, I wasn’t too excited about ours. But it ended up being pretty damn good!


We actually almost won the competition. Go, Guria/Adjara!!!  Because of time my little piece was cut even shorter than what I had prepared for (which was totally fine with me).  Afterward, people commented that I was a great speaker. That’s reaffirming. One Georgian lady even said I should pursue acting.  …okay.


We also where treated to an excursion to some nearby caves, Prometheus Cave.


Prometheus Cave



Prometheus Cave



Prometheus Cave

We had a really, really REALLY great time over the weekend. Most of which I can’t detail here… to protect the innocent. Reminded me of some of the weekends with my #43 crew. Good, fun people!


“The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don’t want, drink what you don’t like, and do what you’d rather not.”– Mark Twain.


3 responses to “Mid Year Conference

  1. After a false start in July, I’m happy to announce that I’ll finally be in the next group heading over. I have no idea what our group number is, but our arrival date is January 12th. I’m looking forward to finally meeting you at one of these mid-semester events. Thanks for continuing to write your blog this whole time, as it has been a wealth of information for us newbies that are heading over!

  2. Welcome to Georgia! Hopefully your orientation is going well. Hope to see you soon. And if you guys are still there this Friday, I’l be in Tbilisi! So email me. Take care and best of luck!

    • Well…. We were all supposed to start orientation yesterday, but last week were informed that we would not be flown out to Tbiisi until closer to the end of January, due to some issue with TLG’s health insurance outfit. So I’m still sitting in the States twiddling my thumbs…


      Jassen Bowman, EA

      “Uncover what you long for and you will discover who you are.” –Phil Cousineau,

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