Tag Archives: english teacher

overwhelmed, constantly.

The past month has been a whirlwind of weekend trips, TLG conventions, wrapping up lessons, and most prominently for me, saying all my goodbyes to all the wonderfully crazy and talented people that I call my friends/teachers/fellow travelers. At the forefront of my mind has been my countdown until I fly home. From 30 days to 2 weeks to 7 days and now, the hourly countdown. (I am a bit desperate for first world luxuries…and my family.) However, looking forward so much and with such fervor, I haven’t had a chance to come to terms with this experience.

I still remember how overwhelmed I was arriving to the hotel at 4 a.m. I remember the camaraderie of training, the frustration of learning Georgian and the struggles of jet-lag that resulted in numerous ten minute naps between workshops (usually huddled in one bed because it was freezing and yet, no central heating!) The first night in Rustavi counts as one of the most lonely nights of my life. The successes of teaching, and the trials of communication, and the many long phone conversations venting/laughing/marveling at this country with my colleagues all made this experience what it was.

In one word, this experience has been intriguing. Not all of it was good, not all of it was bad, but together everything mixed into an eclectic dance. Daily, I asked myself what I was doing here. Now, daily, I ask myself why on Earth I decided to come back. In just over 50 hours, I will board a plane to fly home for the summer, and I am anxiously awaiting that landing. But in some weird way, it’s a little bittersweet.

When I come back in September, it will not be with wide eyes and anxiety. I will know how to navigate and haggle with taxis. I won’t be talking to Surfer Matt about the latest mind-numbingly confusing thing our co-teachers have said. Brittany and I won’t be sharing our latest crazy stories, or comparing this country to Asia. There won’t be sleepovers with Hannah or conversations with Alex about the (non-existent) pros of Tolstoy over Dostoevsky or late-night rants with Lyndsay about this misogynistic culture. I will be coming back less as a tourist, I think, and with less of a safety net.

These past five months were my time to figure it out (impossible) and find my favorite places and talk through the crazy. This is when I have to internalize and focus and pinpoint what I will do to make next semester work for me. This is when I re-live the hours, days, and months until I can accept what I experienced. Right now, I don’t know what happened. It was a blur to me.

It was bumpy marshrutkas and open stares. It was frustrations and triumphs at school. It was tears and curses when I felt so alone and so frustrated with this culture. It was laughter and smiles on the weekend trips. It was learning to let go of timing and planning and my love of luxury hotels.¬† It was trying to find any strip of normalcy, even if that was McDonald’s.

I have been overwhelmed constantly.

Maybe once I land, and eat a meal with vegetables, and shower, I will be able to finalize my feelings. Until then, my mind will be whirling as I try, and fail, to process.

Am I a Teacher Yet?

First things first: check out Lyndsay (kittycat) Ballew’s blog for a glimpse at village life in Georgia. *hint–she went on a picnic and her food was still alive during the walk.


You can tell where you are in life by the thoughts you have, or what’s in your purse/murse, or how grateful you currently are for varying technologies.

Example: If you’ve recently thought ‘oh, good! I can get three hours of sleep tonight and still finish this paper!’ then you’re in college.

My life now is wrapped around thoughts like:

  • “Oh my gosh, getting these children to stay on the same page is harder than herding cats.”
  • “If I let this one sneeze on me, maybe I’ll get sick and can sleep in tomorrow.”
  • “Do not curse at the little munchkins. Do not curse.”
  • “Please stop talking.”
  • “She should get in trouble. She’s disobeying. But her persistence is admirable.”
  • “Oh good grief, child. The sentence is ‘He is running.’ Why is that hard?!?”
  • **about a teacher’s pet** “Was I this annoying in elementary school? Mrs. Aiken I am SO sorry.”
  • “Seriously, shut up.”
  • “Literally¬†just said that word out loud four times. If you would listen you would pronounce it correctly.”
  • “You’re cute, but you’re not very good at being sneaky. Now I have to be the bad person and take your phone.”
  • **follow up thought** “Why do you have a smart phone at 9 years old?”
  • “You’re my favorite…Wait, can I have favorites?”
  • “Are you really gonna make me sit next to you before you pay attention?”
  • “I wonder what would happen if I just screamed at them all. Could I surprise them into silence?”
  • “Why are they screaming so much?!?”
  • “Thank you Jesus–I just saw the light bulb turn on.”
  • “Breakthrough! We just had a breakthrough!”
  • “Okay, maybe we are making progress.”

Those last three thoughts are what make this worth it, most of the time.

And my purse? It now has a ‘healthy’ (pun intended) supply of hard candies and a myriad of stickers.

….am I a teacher yet? Even a little bit? I hope so–because otherwise I’m exhausted for nothing.

Also, props to Brooks Stevens. Wikipedia says I have you to thank for the wonder that is the clothes dryer. (developing country problems)

Reading Rainbow.

It’s been a week since I moved to Rustavi and started teaching. I use the word teaching loosely because I have been…frustrated, to say the least. I know that I don’t have a degree in teaching, and that I am not the most qualified (besides my exceptional grasp of the English language) but I had been hoping for a bit more of a hands-on approach. So far, my teachers seem content to have me sit and read in my American accent, or correct the students as they read through memorized scripts they don’t actually understand.

Today, though—Today I had a breakthrough! On Friday I had promised 5th form that if any of them wanted help with reading, I would stay after on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays to teach. Only few raised their hands to say they would come, so I wasn’t too optimistic. But today after school, I had 9 little girls waiting anxiously to learn how to read/strengthen their reading skills. We started with the Alphabet, then vowel sounds, then consonant combinations. For every consonant combination, I had them come up to the board and write a word they knew that had that combo in it. They know a lot of words! From there we wrote sentences, and practiced a bit with telling time at the end.

It was only thirty minutes, and I know it was only nine children, but it was the highlight thus far! I loved being able to teach and let them think, instead of having them just memorize. (I gave them candy for each answer, so maybe they will share that tidbit and I will have more students on Wednesday!).

I’m so glad the after-school lesson was successful; I needed that pick-me-up after the worst day of classes ever. Eleventh grade likes to make lewd comments/ ask lewd questions, and ninth grade was simply rowdy and uncooperative. Tenth grade is extremely unmotivated and it is going to prove a challenge to get those students involved and active.¬†Today started out extremely rough, but those thirty minutes are why I came to Georgia to teach, and if those sessions are the only times I have to actually be hands-on, it will be completely worth it.