Teach and Learn with Georgia: Reflections

Teach and Learn with Georgia (TLG) is a project established by the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia (MES) aiming to recruit 1,000 native English speakers who are willing to teach English at Georgian schools for 2010-2011 academic year. The first wave of teachers arrived in Georgia in the end of July; Georgian government expects that by the end of 2010 all 1,000 will be in Georgia and will start to teach. Any native English speaker who is interested in the project may register on the official website of the program tlg.gov.ge. They should provide personal information, describe why they would like to participate, send a copy of their passport and provide other necessary documents; all of these and additional information may be found on the website of TLG. Besides the fact that they will be educating Georgian schoolchildren, MES hopes that teachers will learn about Georgia and when they return to their home countries they will share stories with family and friends, therefore they will promote Georgia.

Several teachers who already began their program in Georgia started their own blogs where they share their experience with relatives, friends and others who are interested in the matter. Teachers write about everything: their students, cultural experiences, sex, Georgian cuisine and etc. Let’s take a look at some interesting entries:

Drew Sobota is from USA, he arrived in Georgia in July and he teaches English in Kutaisi (western Georgia). According to his blog, people of Kutaisi are willing to learn English:

I’ve added some more teaching hours outside of school.  I made some friends at the local mall & they’re very serious about learning English.  I might start a club if I don’t get too busy with other projects I’ll be involved with.  One is Tinico’s (my main companion) English grammar text book that she, herself, wrote.  She wants me help her finish & be the editor.  I’m honored.  The other endeavor is an organization of which she’s the chairwoman called S.O.S. Village.  The objective is to provide the same quality education that well-off children receive, to those that may be homeless or whose parents are unemployed or what have you.  More on those later.

For more stories from Kutaisi go to Drew’s blog

Not all of the teachers are located in big cities like Tbilisi (capital of Georgia) or Kutaisi, some of them are sent to countryside. Paul Knettel Arrived in Georgia from USA in August, 2010. He leaves and teaches in Zeda Etseri, a village near Zugdidi (western Georgia). Despite a significant cultural difference it seems in Paul’s posts that he has much fun and enjoys being in Georgia:

“I am enjoying my time here immensely. The Georgian family is wonderful and way too hospitable! I have been able to meet up with some of the other English teachers in my area (whom I trained with in Kutaisi for 1 week), and we have gone to the Black Sea for a breath-taking sunset and an invigorating swim! We also played some football (soccer for us strange American-folk) against a group of Georgians, which was a blast despite the scorching heat: so much for a cooler environment than Texas!”

Here are some pictures from Paul’s blog:

Paul Knettel with other teachers from his school. From: http://paulknettel.wordpress.com/

Paul Knettel's room. From http://paulknettel.wordpress.com/

Samegrelo and Svaneti mountains. From: http://paulknettel.wordpress.com/

One of the TLG volunteers touched “sensitive topic” – Sex in Georgia and received more than 200 comments on his post. Neal Zupancic is from Slovenia, he currently teaches and resides in Tbilisi. Neal wrote several posts about sex and gender in Georgia, and all of them received numerous responses from locals and foreigners. As Neal says, even though he has met some women who openly talked about sex, in general it’s a “hush-hush” topic in Georgia. Here’s what he concluded in one of his posts:

Finally, a note about talking about sex in Georgia. The subject seems to be a lot more taboo than it is in the US. Even when you talk to Georgians about dating, they are generally taken aback by the idea that anyone would talk publicly about any kind of romantic interactions between men and women. It’s pretty strange.

Some of the Georgians said in their comments that it very much depends on an area where one lives and that in cities it’s not that much of a taboo. You can read all of these at Neal Zupancic’s blog

TLG Volunteers. From http://tlg.gov.ge

Here are some other blogs by TLG volunteers that you might find interesting to read:

http://raughley.wordpress.com/
http://paulingeorgia.wordpress.com/
http://wishdafishwasme.wordpress.com/
http://michelleingeorgia.blogspot.com/
http://peripateticpedagogue.wordpress.com/
http://mfgold-whatthehellamidoinghere.blogspot.com/
http://emily-in-georgia.blogspot.com/
http://ilanasworldadventures.blogspot.com/
http://georgianbacon.blogspot.com/
http://drewsobota.wordpress.com/
http://mkisteachingingeorgia.blogspot.com/
http://asenseofadventure.blogspot.com/
http://stevenfdiamond.blogspot.com/
http://gnjb.blogspot.com/
http://charlotteinzion.blogspot.com/
http://rickgove.wordpress.com/
http://teachingeorgia.blogspot.com/
http://mygeorgianadventures.blogspot.com/
http://mneedles.wordpress.com/
http://gamecaucasus.wordpress.com/
http://jasonkylebrown.blogspot.com/
http://geoconstruction.blogspot.com/
http://travelsbytara.blogspot.com/
http://storyshewrote.wordpress.com/
http://www.the-other-georgia.com/
http://infinitedreamernicole.blogspot.com/
http://ayearingeorgia.blogspot.com/
http://gypsygolightly.blogspot.com/
http://paulknettel.wordpress.com/
http://theothergeoriga.wordpress.com/
http://travelwithkathi.blog.com/

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