Monday, February 24, 2014

Holy catchapuri, what have I gotten myself into?

Wednesday February 19th

It’s my second full day and I am already exhausted.
I like school. One co-teacher is a young man who is motivated and ready to take advantage of having a native English speaker in his lessons. The other co-teacher is an older woman who is very kind to me and lets me speak or do activities when I ask, though she doesn’t plan her use of me beforehand. I absolutely love the students and want to be at school from start to finish instead of just my required classes with the 1st-6th grades, but I know that settling into two different co-teaching strategies will be challenging.

And being at home is always challenging. Don’t get me wrong, my host family is great. They are very friendly, the food is delicious, and I have the whole upstairs part of the house to myself. But not having anyone around who speaks the same language is absolutely exhausting.

I try not to stay in my room all day, as Georgian society is traditionally a collective society, and families tend to spend all day together in the common room or kitchen. However, sitting there for hours not saying much or being able to express myself is frustrating. Listening to everyone around me and still not having any clue what is going on is boring. And although my host sister-in-law is fairly good at finding a way to communicate things to me when need be, the process is very tiring. And I don’t have internet so that venue of escape or even communication with my family back home is out of the picture for now.

The only way I can rest or relax is to withdraw to my room and study Georgian or call the friends I made during orientation.
But this worries the family. This evening we are playing cards. Well, I’m not really playing cards, because even though it is a game I know, a Georgian friend of the family is “helping” me, aka playing for me. I think people have a tendency to associate language ability with mental ability. I don’t mean that in a snide way. Back at my university in Arkansas, it was something myself and some other students who volunteered with internationals were specifically warned to be conscious of. But anyway, I get bored, and eventually excuse myself and head up to my room. It isn’t long before the sister who lives in Tbilisi and speaks a little English is texting to ask how I am, which she is obviously relaying to the family. Eventually the sister-in-law comes up as well, brining catchapuri and tea and sympathizing with how much work I have.

Despite all the concerns, I stay in my room as long as I can. I’m not mad at anyone. But already, in my second full day in my village, this experience is kicking my ass. I guess I’m starting to realize what I’ve gotten myself into. There is no escape from work except for solitude. Solitude is rude, however. No freedom to come and go from the house as I please. Nowhere to go, anyway. And there is no way to change the situation. Until I learn more Georgian, at least.

But I also realize that the adventurer in me and the masochist in me are interconnected. In the past, when I heard stories like this from others, these parts, the hard parts, made my adrenaline pump as much as any others. I would always wonder if I could handle it. And how much more badass I would be for it afterward. And after all, there is no great adventure without conflict or hardship. So yes, right now it sucks, but I can handle it, and I’ll get through it. Maybe it won’t get to an easy place, maybe there will be continual struggles this semester. But this is what I was asking for-this is what I wanted. And I can do this.

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