Saturday, December 18, 2010

Let the Holiday's Begin

So I'm a little behind with my posts because the holiday season started a while ago but none the less I will share a few of my holiday experiences so far. So the Georgians don't celebrate Halloween, in fact they advertise against it but I love the holiday and wanted to celebrate but as I mentioned before I was in Kazbegi and Georgians don't like the holiday. Well, I only wanted to do one thing and that was carve a pumpkin. Before Halloween I couldn't find a pumpkin anywhere but a few days after I found one in a little shop as I was meandering down the street. I bought it, hid it in my bag, brought it home. It sat on my bedroom floor for nearly a month while ever once in a while I would look at it and want to carve it but I didn't know where to do it. My host family would never allow me to do it in the house, my hostess made that very clear when I carved a little jack o'lantern face into a persimmon. So, a couple days before Thanksgiving there was a Georgian holiday called St. George's Day. There was no school (i.e. no work) and my friend was visiting from Kazbegi so it seemed like a good time. So we took the pumpkin down into the park in front of my apartment building where there was a picnic bench. Trying to be a little more discrete about it, I decided to use my 4" pocket knife, that I had bought at the outdoor market a few days before, to carve the pumpkin. As I was cutting the top off of the pumpkin I notice that the knife wasn't locking open like it should have been. The pumpkin was very thick and tough to carve into so we had to use a lot of pressure. After we got the top off and pulled all the guts out I was trying to carve out an eye when the knife slipped shut on my finger. I'm pretty sure it only stopped when it hit the bone. I immediately grabbed my finger, held it up in the air and squeezed tight. It was a pretty clean cut and because I did this it didn't bleed much. So I stayed out there while my friend helped me finish carving the pumpkin. There where a few kids that stopped by to see what we were doing and thought it was very entertaining. When I went into the house to get my finger bandaged up, I told my hostess what we were doing. She told me, "I knew what you were doing and this happened because you were carving a pumpkin on St. George's Day." I knew that's exactly what she was going to say and thought it was pretty entertaining. She helped me bandage my finger and then I went back out so that we could find a candle to put into it.

Here it is:

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Making Georgian Bread

On November 24th I went up to visit my friend Jiayi in her area of the city. We had just started walking up the street when I noticed a shop where I could see them making bread in the downstairs. I stopped to watch for a second and they invited us in to see the process. They even let us participate a bit.

 They take the dough and spread it on a mold and with the mold they slap the dough on the side of the oven and it sticks.
 It is hot in there and these guys get the bread all the way down the walls of the stove.

These guys were really nice and let me keep the bread I slapped on the wall (somehow they were able to keep track of it). Jiayi went to slap her dough to the side of the oven, freaked out and her dough fell. So all that came out was a lump of burnt dough/bread. So they were nice enough to give her another bread.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Some Random, Yet, Interesting Photos of Things Around Tbilisi

This was part of one of the biggest open markets in Tbilisi. 
I just liked the way they had all the fruit set up perfectly.

Need some boots?? Almost every woman here where's big black boots.
This I found at one of the restaurants near the market. Hehe.
An interesting apartment building we saw right outside the Metro station.
 Sulfer Baths- The natrual hot springs the city of Tbilisi was built around.
Ministry of Education Building
A picture I wasn't supposed to take at the U.S. Embassy
 Crossing the river in Tbilisi 
The largest church in Georgia.

Planting Trees

On November 6th we gathered as TLG teachers and took a couple of buses out to an area near the Sea of Tbilisi (a lake near Tbilisi) where we participated in planting some trees. We spent about 2 hours there putting saplings into holes that had already been dug for us. All we had to do was to get the trees upright and fill in the holes. It was pretty easy. There were a few holes that weren't big enough so we had to make them a bit bigger but for the most part we able to go fairly quickly and planted quite a few trees.

It was another media opportunity. Anytime they set up an activity for us, the media is there.This time the Minister of Education was there with a few of his people and they helped plant a few trees in front of the cameras before they left.

I loved the shovels, they were awesome. They were, what looked like, a tree branch with a flat blade attached to one end.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My School and Students

I have so much fun at school. I co-teach English with 4 Georgian English teachers. They are all great ladies and the students are great too, they treat me like I'm a superstar.  The school system is very different here than it is in the U.S. The students have 5 to 8 classes a day depending on what grade they're in. They start learning English in the 3rd grade, so I teach from 3rd to 12th grade. I teach, or participate in, 5-6 lessons a day. The classes start at 9 in the morning and are 45 minutes long each, then they have a 10 min break in between each class until their last one. There is no lunch break, so if the kids want a snack they have to bring it with them and eat it during the 10 min between classes. There is a little store right outside the school where they can get fruit or pastry and they just barely opened the cafeteria in the school too. The first day I was there I kept wondering when lunch was so finally I asked and they told me that there wasn't any lunch break. I was dying I was so hungry. Now I've learned to bring a snack or I have to wait it out.

Also, from what I here I am lucky, my school has a teacher's bathroom separate from the kids bathroom, and it has a commode, most I guess just have a hole in the floor type. Either way, I don't touch anything in there anyway. And you have to make sure you bring your own toilet paper otherwise you're S.O.L.

Here are a few pictures of the school, the teachers and the students...I even got some on video.

Two of my co-teachers in the warmest room in the school because the sun actually shines into it.

 The school has 4 floors and this is one of the hallway and the stair well where the little kids jam up and down as fast as they can I'm surprised they haven't fallen or knocked anyone else down.

This class of 12th graders were the one's who surprised me with a cake and a giant sparkler candle coming out of it for my birthday. They are a bit crazy but fun.

The school Director
 During the 10 min breaks the boys are usually fighting in the back of the classroom and the girls are up front chatting.
 Out in front of the school, after school, these 3 4th graders were trying their best to communicate with me and not doing half bad. They are cute and some of my favorites.
 Another one of my favorite classes, 8th grade
The glowing kid was doing flips off the wall and the one next to him I like to call Justin Bieber because he slightly resembles him and he hate Justin and all the girls love him.

Check out this action I caught in between classes.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Road Down From Kazbegi

The drive down was a great surprise to me because it had been dark and rainy when we had driven up, but it was midday when I left and the sun was shining. The mountains were white with the freshly fallen snow and there were rivers all the way down the mountain. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t keep from looking out the window. I wanted to take one big picture of the whole journey, alas I couldn’t so I just took as many pictures as I could.