Because I’m busy for most of the day and so much is happening, I’ve been feeling a little overwhelmed in thinking of what to blog about. My favorite soccer journalist, Sid Lowe, does weekly reviews where he goes in depth about one issue/team and provides short blurbs about other highlights from around the league, and I thought that would be a good model to try for my own records. As a way to summarize the last couple months, my first longer portion will layout an average day as a PC Trainee in Georgia.
Wake up – 7:00am.
On most days training starts at 9, so I try to be downstairs for breakfast at around 8-8:15. Of course, I’m usually stampeding downstairs at 8:10 praying that my host mom has breakfast ready…
I’ve recently resolved to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier so I can do a resistance band workout on the balcony in the morning, we’ll see how that goes.
Language class 9am – 1pm
3 hours and 15 minutes a day, 6 days a week. There have been exceptions for the odd trip, but this is the beat we’ve been marching to through the Georgian (“Kartuli”) language textbook. According to the Foreign Service Institute, Georgian is a Level 4 language for native English speakers. Level 4 is classified as “Languages with significant linguistic and/or cultural differences to English” and is estimated to take 44 weeks/ 1100 hours to learn. As the guy who took 7 years of French in high school and college and thinks “Proficient” on his resume is a stretch, I was a bit intimidated coming in. But the language teachers here are really great and I made a point to write in the alphabet from the beginning, which has helped me a lot.
Teaching Practicum 9am-1pm (Weeks 4-8)
This was our first experience with planning lessons and teaching with local counterparts. It was kind of difficult because it’s the end of the year so students have checked out a little bit (looking at you, 11th grade..) and the counterparts didn’t have that much time to plan lessons with us because they spend much of their free time doing private tutoring to make extra money, but I’m glad that I got the experience to plan and execute lessons before I actually go out to my permanent site.
Through it, I learned that I need to learn to check my class’s comprehension to make sure I’m not just speaking gibberish, that it’s invaluable that I foresee when I do the little things like writing on the blackboard and moving students into groups beforehand, and that I need to work on being more expressive with little ones. I’m far from where I want to be as a teacher, but the practicum was a good start and I’m excited to start from Square 1 with my new students.
1pm-2pm Pre-Service Training Lunch
The much heralded PST lunches. Every day, we visit a different host family in our cluster (my small group of 6 English Education trainees with whom I take languages and share a village). Take 6 mouths to feed and the Georgian impulse to be hospitable, and you get one great lunch. We’ve had pizza multiple times, khinkali (my favorite Georgian dumpling), pork and potatoes, potatoes and beef, fried potatoes (noticing a pattern here?), and always coffee or tea after. On the *really* good days we get cupcakes, cake, or cookies with the coffee and tea. The current Volunteers we’ve crossed paths with have repeatedly told us that it will not last, but is there hurt in dreaming…
2pm-6pm Technical Training
These were usually Powerpoint-based sessions based on various topics related to teaching formal and non-formal English and being a teacher in a Georgian community. Summer camps, teaching reading/writing/speaking/grammar/vocabulary, school/work culture, correcting errors, critical thinking, making a syllabus… It’s been a lot and frustrating at times because some of it seems like common sense, but everyone sees things differently so I’ve tried to be a good sport about it and I have applied a lot of it in my own lesson planning and preparation to move to my permanent site.
6:20pm-10pm Dinner and hang out with hosts
A big part of my integration into my host family has been my determination to be present, so I try to make it back home for dinner everyday and work in the living room where my two host parents watch TV and work. I live with two sisters who both teach at the school I train and taught at and it’s been great seeing them in the yard and hearing what their perspective about the kids.
Dinner rarely strays from the formula of soup + a main with salad and bread on the side. Borscht. I’ve been eating a lot of borscht. It’s a red beet and vegetable soup usually garnished with dill and sour cream.
That’s basically what I’ve been doing day-to-day. In future these posts will be focused on one topic, I just wanted to provide a rough overview of my last two months.
სასუსნავი (sasusnavi – sweet treats)
Haircuts are 4 lari here. That’s $1.66. There’s no shampoo or head massage, but I’ve been satisfied with the two I’ve gotten so far.
My host parents made me a pizza and bought me a Barcelona wristband and a small bottle of Georgian whiskey for my 26th birthday.
My legs and toes are covered in little scars from itching bug bites I’ve gotten at night and only itch in the wee hours of the morning. Why only my legs? Why only at night? I wish I knew, but they’ve started to fade thankfully.
I’m on my 4th sleeping configuration. First it was either of the twin size beds in my room, then the floor and my sleeping bag, and now I’m sleeping in a bedroom across from mine because the bed is bigger.
I stayed up until 1am to watch Real Madrid win the 2017 Champions League final 4-1. My hosts watched the first half with me. It wasn’t fun.
If you got down this far, thanks for your time, my next posts will be shorter, and I find out my permanent site on Friday!