One month in

ImageIt’s been a bit since I’ve “officially” checked in. Life has been VERY busy. For the past week and a half, we’ve had language classes in the afternoon so that the teaching volunteers could do their teaching practicum at school. It is amazing how tired afternoon language classes make me. Luckily today we switched back to morning language classes and I actually have a little bit of energy tonight.

Spring is in full bloom here in Georgia. ჩემ ეზოში (In my garden) the flowers are blooming. The photo above is of our peonies. And the roses are beginning to bloom. It’s beautiful. In about two weeks, we’ll have massive amounts of cherries from our cherry tree. I can’t wait. Tonight I’m writing from my third story perch where I often sit and privately take in the cacophony that is the Georgian spring. I can here frogs from the river one block over, dogs barking everywhere, and in a few hours the birds that chirp all night long will begin their singing. There is a reason that Peace Corps does training in the spring. The weather has been glorious since we arrived at our training site. It has been as welcoming as the people.

The big event of the past week was our community project. The IOD volunteers worked with community members to execute small community projects. We had less than a week to plan and implement them which seemed like an impossible task until we found an incredible partner in a local school’s civics club. We did the project this past Sunday. The US Embassy did a little facebook feature on our projects. I also posted a number of photos from the day on my own facebook page, if you are interested. Following the project, the students took us on an excursion to Surami, a nearby village which is a tourism hotspot. It was a great day. But exhausting. And we did it on what was supposed to be our one free day for the next few weeks. I could definitely use a day off. But there are none in sight.

On Sunday, I’ll set off to Tkibuli for my jobshadowing trip where Tiffany (fellow trainee) and I will be staying with a current Peace Corps volunteer. We’ll be visiting the organization she works for and there is a rumor we may even get McDonald’s. I will admit I never thought I’d be so excited for McDonalds. But after a full month of Georgian food (which is very good, don’t get me wrong), I’m ready for something of a change in cuisine. And I haven’t had beef in more than a month. Of course, whether one can consider what McDonald’s serves to be beef is debatable. But I’m ready for anything that resembles beef at this point. We’ll be away from our training site until Wednesday. That in itself is pretty exciting. And it will be our first independent outing in Georgia. So, it should be interesting.

Next weekend we get to take another independent trip (our cultural trip) to a site of our choosing. I’m headed to Kutaisi with two friends, Kristen and Melissa. Kutaisi is the second largest city in Georgia, the home of parliament, and has some major historical sites. In addition, it also has some pretty cool caves nearby which we plan on exploring. But I’ll admit my motivation for wanting to go to Kutaisi is the french restaurant I’ve heard tell of. It’s questionable whether or not we’ll have the money for it. But I’m hoping. (Are you picking up on the food theme here?) At any rate, I’m looking forward to exploring some more of Georgia.

We also had our site interviews this week. Site interviews are intended to help the staff determine where would be the best fit for us for our permanent placements. They make this decision based on numerous factors including our skills, the organizations’ needs, our preferences regarding the type of work we’d like to do, etc. I’m pretty open to any sort of placement, but I am hoping to work with an organization that focuses on empowering women and/or democracy building. We’ll find out on June 10, which believe it or not is just around the corner!

The last big event of the last few weeks is language class switch ups. On Monday they shuffled the language classes a bit in order to accomodate different learning speeds. I made the jump from the class which was likely the lowest level class to a mid-level class. So, the damage done by not having my alphabet down when I arrived has now officially been repaired. Language is coming along better than I expected it to although I need to do more speaking to get quicker. It’s all in my head, but it comes out rather slowly. This is where being more of a talker would be helpful. I’m pretty content to sit in relative silence at meals with my host family but that isn’t going to help develop my speaking skills. Eka continually entreats me “sprechen! sprechen!”. Yep, that’s German. German has served as a common language for us as we both know a tiny bit. Never thought my miniscule German knowledge would serve me in any way. I definitely learned more Georgian in one month here than I learned German in four semesters in college. That would be entirely my fault though.

Life is good here. I’ve had my moments of wondering if I’ll survive two years of certain aspects of Georgian culture. But for the most part, I’m very happy here. And I’ve been really impressed with the work that current volunteers are doing with their organizations and in their communities. The impact that they are having is far greater than I expected. So, I’m pretty psyched to get my own assignment and get to work.

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3 thoughts on “One month in

  1. Betsy, Thanks for the very interesting update. I love reading about your experiences. What is the usual meat protein in Georgia? My guesses are chicken, goat and sheep. Can’t wait to hear about your travels and spelunking.

    • You are correct with the Chicken guess. I’ve also seen occasional pork and lamb. But really, meat is a pretty infrequent visitor to meals here. Too expensive, I’m guessing. That would be fine if there were more leafy greens. But for the most part my diet consists largely of tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, bread, an occasional egg, pasta, and yogurt. Tough to get enough iron that way. And I’m struggling a bit with the high carb, low protein diet. Doesn’t help with the exhaustion!

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