By this point, I have fallen into my weekly routine as a teacher in the Republic of Georgia. Every Monday through Friday I teach (co-teach) four English classes a day. I work from 9:45 until 1:30 each day, except on Thursday. On Thursday, we teach a fifth class that is made up of gifted 10th and 11th grade students. On that day I work five hours instead of four. I teach every grade, 3rd through 12th, excluding 9th grade. Most of my kids are well behaved. Some of them have to be separated and constantly disciplined.
This seems normal to me.
For the most part my job has become more about correcting bad Georgian English rather than actually instructing them in English. I live to assist my host sister who is the Georgian English teacher. It is her class and I am her American co-teacher. However, I have found that a lot of our students are turning to me for help with their English assignments. Today I was proud to discover that my sixth grade students are now reading and writing in complete sentences. Of course, they still need to work on being quiet while others are reading. It’s not all work in the classroom though.
On the weekends, I try to visit the bigger cities like: Tbilisi, Kutaisi, or Batumi. In these cities I can find a lot more to see and do than in my village. I can eat at American-style restaurants (McDonald’s, New York Pizza, and Texas Chicken), visit a casino, shop at a Goodwill (Georgian Walmart), or even drink at an Irish pub. In Batumi and Sarpi you can swim in the Black Sea, visit a beautiful boardwalk, and buy really nice wine. You could even cross the border of Turkey and head into Hopa.
We had a long weekend in Armenia the weekend of the 20th of November. It was in celebration of St. Giorgi. I went to an information meeting for American citizens living in Georgia at the American Embassy. I must admit, I have never been to an American Embassy before. It turned out to be more of a party than a meeting. There were several people there including the Marines who had tables set up displaying information on the type of services that they provided.
Some of them were selling items and taking donations. Local restaurants like Texas (Churches) Chicken, McDonalds, and the Sheraton hotel were giving away free food, wine, and beer. It was fun and of course we all went out for drinks afterward.
A couple of the people that I know from my teaching group were going to Armenia for the weekend and I was invited. I had nothing else better to do and had both Monday and Tuesday off that next week. We boarded a night train on Friday night that took us from Tbilisi to Yerevan over the course of 14 hours. Once in Yerevan we found our way to our hostel which cost us 6,000 DRAM a night. 10,000 DRAM is about the same as $27. At one point I withdrew 100,000 DRAM from my bank account and felt rich. Of course it was only about $270. Well, in the course of the weekend, I saw some amazing sights, ate some great food, drank lots of wine and other things, and sang Karaoke for the first time in my life. I highly recommend you visit Yerevan if you get the chance.