Here is a glimpse at a training day for Teach and Learn with Georgia volunteers. They know how to keep us busy and well fed. It’s pretty intense but enjoyable all the same.
Wake up in our luxurious hotel room and get ready for the day. It has been quite surprising that the sun doesn’t begin to move over the mountains until after 8AM. I’m so used to having more light in the morning, even in the winter in order for the day to get started.
Breakfast is eaten in buffet style in the dining room. Everyone sits together around large tables while trying Georgian food. The staples that you will see at every meal of course are freshly sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, bread, a selection of cold cuts, a plate of different cheeses, and an odd selection of juices that no one is really sure what they are made from. The staples are delicious but the unique dishes (like noodles and hot dogs) are also normally very good. They even serve us cocoa puffs. I suppose it provides a decent transition for those of us still stuck on our processed foods.
The morning meeting is a great deal like any morning meeting. Some people care, others chat with their neighbors, and half of the group is sits there pretending to be awake. The jet lag is still plaguing many. It does have one benefit. If you ever get bored, you can just take a look around and laugh at the ridiculous zombie faces they all wear while waking up.
Georgian Class! This is by far my favorite part of the day. A teacher works with a small group of twenty of us. Marica is a brilliant and patient teacher who has done work with peace corp and the European equivalent of the peace corp. We have a small coffee break at 11:30 and then work more. There are lots of activities which are helpful when you are trying to learn new sounds. Georgian has a “kh” and a “gh” sound that remind you of a cat throwing up. Of course the r’s are rolled and there are multiple k, t, p, and b sounds. Writing the Georgian language is a bit difficult, but it redeems itself by being so helpful. Every letter you see you say and everything you say you write. There aren’t any crazy silent letters like in English!
Lunch includes the staples mentioned earlier and soups and mystery meats. They also like to chop up different veggies and combine them. It’s nice to give your mind a rest and just relax with friends.
This is our time for intercultural training. There are mixed opinions about these classes. The first day was a long introduction into the goals of the class and such. I think it could have been shortened in time and allowed for us to start answering our questions about Georgian manners and daily life. I’m glad we reviewed the issues and importance of stereotypes. But really, I’m a bit more concerned at the moment about how to establish a personal bubble with my host family. Today was much more informative. Luckily, it’s never just lecturing. Our teachers do case studies and ice breakers with us. We again have a coffee break (so much coffee! They give us these delightful little pastries, too. They offer tea but only Earl Gray and Green Tea. I miss my peppermint) in the middle.
Dinner was the first place I got to try the infamous Khachpuri. It’s circular bread with cheese baked in it. Every region and family have their own recipe. The hotel’s is good but very salty. Some people say it’s like cheese bread you might order with pizza in the states. I don’t think so. It’s flat and just blends better. It’s like the bread is made from a dough of solely cheese. Of course, you have plenty of other food and time to get to know fellow volunteers during this time.
We finish the day off with a meeting. We go over questions and sign our contracts. Later in the week we will be taking to current Teach and Learn with Georgia volunteers. There is free time in the evening. Many of us have walked around Tbilisi or chatted over the wine we got in our welcome bags. Sleep is a big priority after these long days. I might want to socialize more. However, being able to focus on my classes the next day is more important.