Written on Sunday, April 28
So, I’ve officially arrived in Khashuri where I will be doing my pre-service training (PST) for the next 11 weeks. Yesterday afternoon my fellow volunteers and I were dropped at the town square, introduced to our new host families and sent on our way. I’ve been extremely anxious about this for the past few days but was feeling fairly calm when the moment came. Mostly because I was given information on what my household would consist of and I liked it. My host-mother is named Eka. She is one-year older than me. She lives with her mother-in-law, Tsira, 65 and two sons, Giga and Nika, 20 and 18. It is a woman-run household which makes me quite comfortable. Eka’s husband has been working in Ukraine for the past three years. Last night one of the neighbor girls shared that Nika will be moving to Germany for work in a month and a half also. Giga, who is the only one in the household who speaks a little English, is a student and spends Tuesday through Thursday in Tbilisi at school. Eka is a teacher.
The family was very welcoming but didn’t overwhelm me. So far Eka and I have spent a lot of time alternately looking at our phrase books, pointing and naming. “Tree” = “khe”. “mezobeli” = “neighbor”. Neighbors are a big part of the family life. As soon as I arrived, a neighbor came by to meet me. Later she and her teenage daughter arrived which was helpful as the daughter, who is in her first year at University, had studied English for three years and was able to help us communicate. This morning Eka and I took a short walk and she introduced me to many neighbors as we walked up the street. I didn’t understand much of what was said but did hear “cargi gogo” a lot. “Cargi gogo” is a very important concept here. It means “good girl”. Apparently, a woman’s reputation is the most important possession in Georgia. Establishing yourself as a “cargi gogo” as an American is especially important because they’ve seen Jersey Shore. Drinking (too much), smoking, smiling at unknown men, dressing unmodestly (skirt above the knee) would all make you not a good girl. Snooky ar aris cargi gogo! (Snooky is not a good girl!)
I had my first “this is Georgia” moment this morning. While I was sitting in my room waiting for others in the house to wake up,I heard a bell ringing as it moved up the street. Although my room is on the second floor, it has a window that is level with the street behind us. I thought the bell was perhaps a street vendor going by. Nope! It was cows being herded up the street by a man and his young son! At least twenty of them.Keep in mind, I’m in a fairly large town, not a village. Georgia is definitely going to be interesting.
I guess I should say something about my accommodations for the next three months. My room is beautiful. It is probably the largest room I’ve ever had (which isn’t necessarily saying a lot as I’ve never had a large room). It is very comfortable and has plenty of room for all of my clothing. (Side not: When I was unpacking, I was wondering why in the hell I brought so many clothes. I packed very poorly.) I can easily come and go as I please as my bedroom door has easy access to the street behind me. Nice for privacy although I can’t imagine really needing it. The house itself is quite large; it has three floors although the third doesn’t appear to be used. Eka brought me up there to show me the view from the balcony which is beautiful and I’ll be sure to take a photo to share. The ground floor is the living area including the kitchen (samzareulo), living room (misaghebiotakhi), and bathroom (abazana). The bathroom does have running water and hot shower, which makes me pretty privileged. However, in Georgia there is a distinction between abazana and t’ualet’i (sound it out). The t’ualet’I here is an outhouse in the yard with a Turkish toilet (look it up). That will take some getting used to.
Anyway, so far so good. I’ve been feeling more tired since I got here than I have the entire time so far. Turns out, struggling to communicate is exhausting. This afternoon I meet up with my cluster mates (5 of us) to explore the town a bit. Looking forward to that. I’ll take photos.