Thursday, September 9, 2010

The Start of Something New

With Orientation coming to a close, we’re all becoming quite anxious about our prospective host family stays! We are leaving TODAY!!

Since I last wrote, we’ve been busy little bees, attending class after class.  We still have Georgian all morning long, but in the afternoon, we replaced methodology with Georgian culture classes. The first day we discussed the idea of culture itself and issues surrounding it.  It was a little slow for most of us because many have discussed these ideas in college, but some of the ‘older’ generation said they really enjoyed it.  (Side note: there are people here of all ages! A majority of us just graduated from college, but there are many that are 5 years out, in their 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s! It’s been interesting hearing everyone’s life stories and what brought them to this program at this stage in their life.) Anyway, we also discussed aspects of Georgian life that are important to know before entering the culture, such as female/male gender roles and what’s expected of each.  Georgian culture is still very traditional.  The man has the final word, makes the decisions (with the help of the woman) of the household, is very strong-willed, etc.  To be honest, we haven’t heard the greatest things about Georgian men! Us girls are very wary of the men in the bars because they are very aggressive.  Again, don’t worry mothers, Nino, our director has given us COUNTLESS lectures on how to stay safe and ward off these crazy men.  We’ve all been practicing our ‘bark’ and have already learned to stop smiling to guys.  It sounds extreme, but completely necessary! 

We also talked a lot about how to act around our host family, things to do and things not to do.  This sounds strange, but we’re all prepared to be pretty much coddled for the next month or so.  After talking to the previous volunteers, all the host families have been super overprotective of their volunteers, always making sure they know where to go, how they’re getting there, what they will be eating, etc. I’m just looking forward to meeting my family and beginning the next year!

In orientation, we’ve also had several sessions on the education system, banking and insurance in Georgia and transportation.  All of them have been very helpful and everyone we work with is so willing to answer our many questions.  What’s amazing, is that several of the workers, for example, the bank employee and the our insurance representative both gave us their cell phone numbers and are literally on call 24 hours a day to take care of us!!

For those of you who were aware of my computer issues, all has been resolved, finally!! For some odd reason, my computer power cord/charger died or fried, or something! Anyway, I wasn’t able to charge my computer for about a week.  This was initially scary because as much as I don’t want to be, I’m slightly dependent on my computer… It was just scary thinking about not being able to communicate with all of you back home! Anyway, with some patience, we were able to take a trip into Kutaisi a couple days ago to go solve several IT problems.  Some needed power chargers, some needed adapters, some needed Ethernet cords.  After going to 3 different places, we finally managed to track down a compatible charger!!! I can’t tell you how excited I was! It was also quite the experience to be in the market.  It reminded me of African markets, yet it was inside and in much closer quarters.  There was literally EVERYTHING there.  We found tvs, women’s shoes, cell phones, bread, washing machines, towels, furniture, etc.  I’m excited to go back and experience it all again, when I’m not searching for 1 thing in particular.

Ok, this blog is being written in 2 sittings because our internet has been out today.  New news is: I have a location! Michelle, Melissa (2 really great friends that I’ve made here this week) and I will all be heading to a town called Samtredia.  It is west of Kutaisi and is an industrial town that is right in the middle of several main roads.  We’re excited about this because that means traveling between cities will be quite easy! We will also be stationed within the town, not in an outside village.  All of us have been preparing ourselves for the worst: small village, with no one around you, where no one speaks English and you don’t have internet.  It looks like I won’t really have to encounter many of those issues! I’m really excited to have Michelle and Melissa nearby, as we will be able to see each other often! It will help to not feel so alone.  At this point, we don’t know what our host family consists of.  We will find out today when we meet them! I’m feeling so many emotions right now that it’s hard to wrap my brain around the entire experience.  I’m excited, anxious, scared, nervous, relieved, and paranoid…all at the same time! But that’s what this year is about; learning to deal with all of these emotions while experiencing a different culture than my own.  I am so excited to update you further about my new family and place of residence! 

Also, sorry that once again I haven't posted any pictures.  It's been such a crazy last few days and loading them eats up so much internet for other people.  Once I'm settled I'll be sure to get some up though! 


  1. Em that is so exciting that you found out where your location is! It sounds perfect. In a smaller city close to other places with good friends. You will have so much fun!!

    Can't wait to hear about your family!

    Love you:)

  2. Em,

    Sounds very exciting and I'm glad to hear your Nino report on safety (it is a Dad thing). Look forward to your family selection post.

    Love you, Dad

  3. Hi Em! I hope everything goes great with meeting your new family for the first time. You're definitely in for an adventure!!! You'll have to teach me some skills in repelling creepy men in bars when you get back! haha!

    Cousin Rach

  4. Em, so glad we were able to feed you American food before you left! Glad to hear you are there safely and getting acclimated to your new home and work. Look forward to more posts of your adventure. Love, Bruce and Mary