Monthly Archives: March 2013

But Tom forgot to say…..

I was unavailable for comment last night so Tom posted without me. So, let me fill in a few blank spots for you.

The writing competition was for “creating” writing. An important distinction as the Georgian students don’t seem to understand this concept. It is a learning experience as well as a competition.
The starters for their essays were according to grade level. For instance: for grade 9 one of the starters was “If clouds were edible what would they taste like”. Another class had “What should be free for everyone in the world”? I liked one of the 12th grade prompts: “If death were a person, what would he/she be like”. I think those of us who proctored went home with a lot of new ideas floating around in our brains. It was very stimulating.

Two important items for us are: 1. a visit from David and Tasha in May, and 2. 4 March birthdays to celebrate. D & T will come east to visit and combine that with some time in Turkey. Do I really need to tell you how excited we are to have them come? (Of course, NOT) The 4 birthdays were our host mother, Meri, who is a leap year baby but she celebrates on March 1st (she is 12 at present), then yours truly (whose age is irrelevant), on the 11th Aleko turned 18 and on the 17th Eliso was 16. Can you even imagine all the cake that was baked? The teens party was a joint affair on St. Patrick’s Day with lots of family and friends coming to eat an incredible amount of home-prepared food.

Since Tom’s theme was the arrival of Spring, I was surprised that he didn’t mention the calla lily plants that are blooming in our front yard. Despite a very cold, humid winter we are in a tropical zone and many plants and trees seem to survive the harsh weather just fine. Daffodils are plentiful in the yards around us and forsythia is blooming. Vegetable gardens are already being prepared by some as we see them turning over the ground in preparation for planting.

A sign of Spring.

A sign of Spring.

Now here is an FYI…teachers take note! There is no such thing as a substitute teacher in our village and I suspect in most of the country. When a teacher must be out for any reason, the class schedule gets changed for that day. Can you imagine what havoc that creates? Teachers are moved to other classes and the schedule gets changed as well as the rooms. I spent more than a few days recently trying to find out where I was supposed to be! It usually means a skipped class for some students as well as an earlier dismissal. When I explain to my counterparts about our “substitute” teachers in the U.S. they are envious.

Finally, some of you may know that besides our primary duties as teacher or business person the Peace Corps encourages us to find way to improve our primary communities. Here in Gonio, we are the 3rd PC volunteers at the school. So my predecessors were able, among other things, to get funding for an English Cabinet. The word ‘cabinet’ in Georgian merely means a room or office, and so an English cabinet is a designated English room at the school. We have our own computer and some other useful resources such as a small library of English books. I hope to be able to expand the availability of some good books for the 10 to 16 age group as these are the ones most needed. However, my major aim for the school is to achieve a Science cabinet. Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught with very old equipment and minimal supplies. So, once we have a full explanation of what is needed I will be attempting to write a SPA grant to try to fund this adventure. The science teachers are very excited and, of course, this means work for them as they must provide me with lots of information of what they need, the costs of everything, etc. So…that will keep me busy all this spring and probably into the summer. My hope is that we can have completion for the start of next September!

We LOVE hearing from YOU. Keep those cards and letters coming folks (a prize for the person who can remember who said that at the end of every radio/TV show)!

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Spring is in the air.

There is a song entitled “Spring is in the air” which goes like this:

Winter’s gone away,
Spring is in the air!
Winter’s gone away,
Spring is in the air!
Winter’s gone away,
Spring is in the air!
Winter’s gone, let’s go outside, it is spring!

Flowers start to grow,
Spring is in the air!
Flowers start to grow,
Spring is in the air!
Flowers start to grow,
Spring is in the air!
Flowers grow, no more snow, it is spring!

Warm and sunny days,
Spring is in the air!
Warm and sunny days,
Spring is in the air!
Warm and sunny days,
Spring is in the air!
Warm days, sun’s rays, spring is here!

http://listenandlearn.bandcamp.com/track/spring-is-in-the-air-2

And that is what it is like here in the village of Gonio, Adjara, Georgia.

The weather is a mixture of warm and cool days and chilly nights but you can tell that the seasons are a changing.  The days are growing longer and the young frogs in the ponds nearby are growing louder.

Not much has happened since the excitement of Suzanne’s ambulance ride to Tbilisi followed by her appendectomy, I am back at Young Scientists Union “Intellect” and she is back at Batumi School #30.

It’s hard to believe Easter is only 12 days away, where has Lent gone?  Not sure how we will celebrate here, next Sunday we will see about attending Palm Sunday services and get the information about the Easter services.  For Georgians, Easter is May 5th and May 6th, Easter Monday is a holiday.

But this is not to say everything had been quite.  For the English teachers, the regional English writing competition was held.  This was an interesting exercise as kids from grades 9 thru 12 got to participate.  We met at Batumi School #2 and divided the contenders up by class, explained the rules – they had one hour to write their essay – then gave them the topics.   Each class level had two prompts, i.e. a sentence which gave the information on what to write.  Those participating chose one of the two prompts and began their task.  From the regional competition, several will be selected to participate in the country competition.  Good luck to all who came.

After this event we were invited to help moderate the college version of the same competition which was scheduled for the following week.  The same rules applied but the topics were much different.  We will know more about the winners in a few days.

This period also saw the G11s, those volunteers who came the year before us, attend their COS (Close of Service) conference.  It’s at this meeting all the paperwork, yes there is more, that needs to be completed before leaving one’s assignment and heading home is handed out.  Volunteers also get to choose their departure day and when they can get the last medical tests.  Some volunteers go directly home while others make plans to travel as part of their route back to the states.  They also share stories, listen to speeches by various dignitaries and generally have a good time as it is most likely the last time many will see each other for a long time.

What this all means is that in a few short months we will be the “old” group, the seniors.  This also signals that the new group, the G13s, will soon be arriving.  That date is April 23, 2013.  Two of the members of the incoming group are my მეგობარები, that’s friends in Georgian, and  I have been exchanging emails with them answering any questions they might have and sending them information about what to expect when they arrive and for the first 3 months.  All very interesting.   I hope to travel to Tbilisi on the 23rd and meet them at the airport when they arrive.

March is a busy month here for birthdays.  Not only did our host mother celebrate her birthday, but also Suzanne, Aleko and Eliso.  Happy birthday to them all.

Well that about all there is for now so I will end by wishing you all a happy spring and happy Easter.

Best wishes from the lovely country of Georgia.

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