The Cliche Good-bye Post

Shannon and I overlooking Kutaisi
Shannon and I overlooking Kutaisi

Of course, the last two weeks I’m here things have to get super busy. I’ve had a great deal of intriguing adventures to write about and no time to do so. I went to Kutaisi to see some fossils and a cool cave. There are new volunteers in Poti. I wrote and then re-wrote some final exams about five times per grade level. But, you’ll just have to ask me about them when I get home if you want more details. (I still don’t have my ticket home, so who knows if I’ll actually get home. Just kidding, Mom, I’ll get there somehow!) For now I’m going to discuss the ending of my Georgian adventure.Be forewarned, you are about to read many a cliche. (I think, after reading other volunteer blogs, this post is required. I hope that the pictures of me with EXTREMELY frizzy hair will entertain you if you don’t like reading about me changing and Georgia changing and yadda yadda)

Shannon and I's Mandatori Class
Shannon and I’s Mandatori Class

I’m sure that Georgia has impacted me as well. Besides developing a perfect “teacher look”, you know that look teachers give you when you are in trouble that makes you feel more guilty than if you had robbed a bank, I have a better handle on classroom management. If I can keep Georgian kids quiet, I can keep anyone quiet! I’m more patient than I every used to be. I still have some work to do on that front, but I’ve made some noticeable progress. I’ll never be entirely comfortable at a supra, but I’ve learned the important cultural lesson of how to relax and to just go with the flow. I can now make Katchapuri, which will be quite useful when I get home. I’ve been told by many Georgians that I would make a fortune if I opened a shop selling Katchapuri in America; they’re probably right. I’m not sure this next one is an accomplishment or a sign of a deteriorating character, but I can hold my ChaCha pretty well for an American. Maybe it’s a sign I’m more fun? Eh, probably not, I’m still pretty nerdy!I knew that saying good-bye to my classes and teachers would be difficult in some ways and a relief in others. We only have a couple more days of school left. I’ve already had my last lesson with most of my classes. I told students how much I enjoyed teaching them. I explained that I hoped they would continue to study. Most students have already zoned out and didn’t seem to be paying attention. Then I told them that I wouldn’t be back in the Fall. A surprisingly heartfelt groan was issued by every single class I had. It made me realize that despite my many frustrations in trying to bridge the cultural and educational gaps, I had actually made some sort of impact. That was my goal but somewhere in the last 2 1/2 months I lost hope for that to be accomplished. You certainly won’t see my co-teachers actually writing out lesson plans. There are still many students who refuse to participate most days and can’t answer the question “how are you?”. Cheating still occurs in most of the classes, too. Yet, students do have better pronunciation. My 4th graders have an almost perfect mid-west accent. They no longer call each other stupid (at least not in school, I’m not that naive). The most exciting change I’ve seen is their growing courage and confidence. On the street or in a shop students will initiate conversations with me. They don’t mind making mistakes, even in front of their parents, because they know that I’ll reward their initiative and gently correct without yelling or tattling to their parents. These are good changes that their Georgian and future TLG teachers can improve upon.

Some of my 11th graders and I
Some of my 11th graders and I

Traveling has always been a dream of mine. My passport finally has a stamp in it. A large part of me would like to just continue on traveling and teaching. There are plenty of programs that would satisfy my travel bug and give me some money to make it happen. But most of those programs require a college degree. So, I’ll keep my promise and come home to finish my degree. I think I’m ready to focus again. I still don’t know if I’m transferring to Madison in the Fall. I won’t be going back to Creighton. If need be I’ll start working or just taking some basic classes to fill out some general requirements at MATC or something. It doesn’t bother me as much as it once did that I didn’t know what I’m doing in the next couple months. I’m sure it will all work out. I need to stop trying to do everything at once. The first step is just getting my Bachelor’s in physics, in whatever University allows me to do this with the right combination of support and opportunities.

I’ll be home in about a week. . . so, Good-bye Georgia. I’m starting the next chapter of my adventure
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