I’ve been back from my trip home for just under a month now. Life has gotten back to its previous hectic pace. I’m busy with lots of work projects and busy in the evenings reconnecting with everyone after the holiday season. My English conversation classes have started back after a month long break. They’ve now split into two different levels. The higher level class is great because now I know that everyone in the class understands what is being said and can participate. But the lower level class is tough as they need to actually be taught and I am not a teacher. Luckily, my friend Tamuna is trained as an English teacher and she is helping me with this class. I would prefer that she take over the class and I participate only as the native English speaker when needed. But that seems unlikely as that is a lot to ask of a friend who is simply volunteering to help me. Hopefully I figure out what I’m doing in that class and it ends up being of some help to them. I’m also working on writing a grant proposal for a new training center for our organization. I’ll share more about that soon when I make a pitch for why you should support the project. 😉
At the end of January, I spent some time away from site. I was in Tbilisi for a weekend where we had a strategic planning meeting for GLOW. I think I mentioned GLOW previously. It stands for Girls Leading Our World and is a girls leadership camp started by the Peace Corps. There are GLOW camps in more than 60 countries around the world. This year we have created a GLOW nonprofit here in Georgia so that the program will continue once Peace Corps has left Georgia (at some point in the future). So, the weekend workshop was our first opportunity to get our board members, student volunteers, and Peace Corps GLOW committee members together to plan the future of the organization. The two-day meeting was extremely productive and we have some incredible young women on board to lead the way. I’m really excited about it. And if I accomplish nothing else in my time here, creating a sustainable GLOW nonprofit will be a worthwhile accomplishment. The weekend workshop was followed by a Peace Corps training for all volunteers for which we would depart from Tbilisi. So, naturally, everyone came to Tbilisi the weekend before. And fun was had by all. These sorts of gatherings are simultaneously exhausting and rejuvenating. It was great to see everyone but not so great to get virtually no sleep for four days straight.
So, now February is here. And it has been cold. Not nearly as cold as it has been in the States. But as I’ve said to many, if it got that cold here, we would all die. And that isn’t a joke. Central heating isn’t really a thing here and the houses aren’t really insulated. Most homes have one heat source that is in the main family room. The rest of the house or apartment is unheated. In a place like Kutaisi, that isn’t that big of a deal. My bedroom usually doesn’t dip below 45F or so. I don’t have problems with things freezing in my room. And I sleep very comfortably in my sleeping bag. Once again, my experience is much better than my fellow volunteers and I continue to be very grateful for that. It did get colder here recently though and for about a week, we had no running water in my apartment because the pipes had frozen. This is a normal occurrence in Georgia. Anytime the temperature dips below freezing for an extended period of time, the pipes freeze. Georgians just live with it. You have to wonder why those who have the means wouldn’t do something about it. But it may be a problem that can only be addressed on the collective level. And probably for historical reasons, Georgians don’t seem very inclined towards acting collectively. But a few days ago, the temps warmed up and the pipes unfroze so I now have clean laundry and have showered in the past few days. Yay, me!
So, with each day, we move closer to the spring. I’m looking forward to it. I have some potentially exciting news that I’ll save until it has actually happened. For now, I’ll just say it will improve my quality of life here tremendously. And in March, I’m planning a trip to Yerevan, Armenia where I hear they have a Mexican restaurant. Oh, other big stuff on the horizon is that the G14s arrive in country at the end of April. There will be nearly 60 of them! I’m a G13 and there are only 30 of us. So, we’re going to be overrun soon. But everyone is really excited to find out who these new people are. They’ll soon be joining our PC Georgia family. The end of April will also mark a full year in country for us. And from there, I guess it all goes by pretty quickly. Even now the G12s won’t shut up about COSing (close of service). They will begin to leave in mid-June. I’m not looking forward to that. In the end, this time is very brief. Better get to work.