Sunday, November 4, 2012

Happy Two Month Anniversary, Georgia!

I have been in Georgia two months now.

Fall has well and truly begun and the nights are cold, and as I told a friend today, I am in an "autumnal mood". He said I was too young to be in a truly autumnal mood, so maybe it is only a baby autumnal mood, but I am feeling nostalgic, and at once enraptured with the fall colors and melancholy to see the mild weather slip away.

Two months have passed so quickly. At times my days, so much calmer than my hectic life in DC, have stretched on for ages. How could it be only 3 in the afternoon!? And then suddenly two weeks have up and fled.

Yesterday, two different people thought I was Georgian (a common occurrence - one asked me for directions, one to borrow my cellphone). I caught a marshutka to my friend's village without a thought to how to go about it. I've now done a cross country trip by myself. I'm getting quite good at dodging cow poop on the roads. I understand the different types of toasts at supras and how to make my shower water hot. I can tell when people are talking about me and can look sufficiently stern that even the rowdiest student will quiet down when I tell them to.

However, my very elderly neighbor still scoffs at me for not speaking Georgian (and yesterday even hit me with her cane. Gently.). I still have to be told every new word about 50 times before I remember it. There are still cultural mysteries I do not understand. Some I think I just don't like.

But I like to think I have come far. Yesterday I met two English speakers from Denmark (the first foreigners I've seen in Sagarejo!) who had only been here about 5 days and didn't know how to say "I don't know" nor how to handle the aggressive, wine-giving hospitality. Ahh, I was once there, tipsy, confused foreign people! And indeed, sometimes I am there still, but not quite as often.

For me, the measure of my success lies in my students. Have I encouraged them, made them feel seen, appreciated? I like to think so. The crayon pictures, messages written on chalkboards (LOVE Mavri Elen!) and constant "hellos!" on the streets, are, I hope, not just because I'm the weird foreigner, but also because I was willing to spend extra time patiently (and often creatively) explaining and re-explaining that you answer "Are you?" with "I am".

A note from one of my precious 4th graders. 
Notice the picture of me - not sure why I don't have hands, but I'll take it!

While this is the halfway point, and I still have about two months in Georgia, I somehow feel this is the home stretch. I have my last few trips planned and now I am planning for "post-Georgia" life. 
But anything can happen in two months.  If I've learned anything in Georgia, it's that sometimes, you really can't plan. 

Last night I was tamada (toastmaster) for the first time, of our own mini supra of six ladies. It was a crowning achievement, and I think I did well.
One last, Monday morning toast - 
                                     "to you, Sagarejo, who has welcomed me so kindly!" 

Alright school week, let's do this!

PS US elections! WOAH! So weird to be abroad. God Bless AMERICA! 

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