by Maggie Feldman, Greenheart Travel English Teacher in Georgia
On Saturday, I met my host father, Merabi, at the hotel in Tbilisi. Our introduction was one to remember. It was very much like a junior high dance. All of the host families sat in the chairs in the lobby while the TLG volunteers stood awkwardly on the other side of the room. I think it is safe to say we were all a bit nervous. I was standing with my friend Anna when all of a sudden three women came up to us and asked where we were going. Anna said Khashuri (which was not the answer they were looking for) then I said Khoni (BINGO!). Immediately, their eyes lit up and they began expressly talking amongst themselves while making casual glances and smiles my way.
Then one of the women that knew English asked what school I was teaching in. I said Public School #3 and they all looked at this gentleman standing in the back (cue Merabi). There were five of us from TLG that were placed in the same general area (3 of us in Khoni and 2 in the surrounding villages). Because of this, all five of us plus families took one marshutka. We hadn’t even left the parking lot and the women were asking all of us if we were married. All of us replied “no” and I could immediately feel them planning all of our weddings – in fact they were taking bets!
The marshutka ride back was comprised of numerous stops, an impromptu supra, a dance party in the vehicle and ended with a nap. When I arrived at our house I met my host mom and my three host siblings: Otiko (17yrs old), Ana (14yrs old) and Giorgi (6 yrs old). This family could not be more kind and caring. They immediately took me in as their family.
On Sunday, they took me to see my school as well as show me the town. After arriving back at the house, I ended up having a snowball fight with my host siblings (with what little snow was left on the ground).
Later on that evening I crashed a 200+ wedding reception with my family. While at the reception, I ate all things carb and cheese related and got a chance to dip back in the kitchen and learn how to make khatchapuri (a traditional Georgian food—similar to dumplings).
Last night I went with the family up the mountain to visit the grandparents in a neighboring village. It is here, where I had my second dinner of the evening. I think it is safe to say that since being with my host family I have been included in family activities, cared for and VERY WELL FED! Let’s see what happens next! Gaumarjos!