…amongst other adventures. I mean I guess this whole country is the land of Stalin and maaan do they love him. Awkward. ANYWAY my two older brothers came from America recently and we got to see the big dude’s childhood home and museum in Gori. After just a few hours there, while discussing some singularly destructive historical events, we caught ourselves saying things like, “no offense to Stalin, but that was kind of a shady move”: Sympathy for the Comrade, an unintended byproduct of visiting his hall of adoration.
From Gori, we went to Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave city dating from around 400 B.C. I’m pretty sure these old school Georgians were having raging wine parties back then (or at least I like to think so), even without forthcoming luxuries such as, you know, the wheel and fire and stuff. In addition to visiting museums and cave cities, Ben and Sam got to try all kinds of Georgian food–including some that had adverse affects on their bodies. As a result, we stayed around Tbilisi for the remainder of the trip and I certainly accomplished my goal of obtaining pity points by just complaining a lot…and by introducing them to my PCV friends, who also happen to complain a lot. So now my whole family has visited my country of service, which is a very unique and heartwarming gesture on their part and I’m very grateful Side note: if flying five people halfway across the world is not enough, care packages are also heartwarming and unique. Just sayin’, why settle?
A few other things of note have happened in the last month, during which you undoubtedly enjoyed a lack of emails announcing my newest blog posts. Alas, I will try to go through them briefly while maintaining an optimal level of humor and the obligatory references to periodic misery.
I was in the G13s’ training site for about five days last month serving as a mentor for their practicum. They had to put on a series of trainings, and my job was to help them adapt to Georgian realities (aka people showing up 45 minutes late, always bringing up their patriarch, etc). I was pleasantly surprised at how well they did, but simultaneously a little confused about why I’ve been here a year and still suck so bad in comparison. But I digress. A few days later, I was back at PST serving on a panel to talk about their impending first three months at permanent site–what to expect with regards to a new host family, meeting their organization, and having no idea what’s going on EVER. They asked a lot of questions. I tried not to laugh. Thus is the cycle of first vs second year volunteers: you’re new, everything’s exciting, you do PST and think that you’ll change the world with your rocking new language skills, you go to site and envision a totally new community in two years full of employment and happy dogs…then a year goes by and you’re back at PST as a mentor, trying to avoid death by emotions and rogue cars daily while passing on pessimistic wisdom to the newest class.
Anyway that was my contribution to their training. Healthy, right? Last month I also got to make a guest appearance at a summer camp put on by some of my friends on the Black Sea coast called SELF (Self Esteem and Leadership through Fitness). They did a great job with the camp, and I was asked to do some sessions on promoting volunteerism because of my committee work on the topic. Overall, I was very impressed with how much the campers knew about volunteering and how eager they were to try it in their communities. Activities like SELF and my project GLOW are some of the most rewarding experiences for participants, Georgian counselors, and PCVs so I’m really happy to have been involved.
Following my stint at their camp, it was time to celebrate my favorite holiday: 4th of July. Last year, Peace Corps put on an official event that included such mundane activities as a balloon toss, hot dog stand, and apple bobbing. This year a group of nine G12 girls and one random G10 guy with ulterior motives for being there gathered on the Black Sea and engaged in more “fluid” types of activities. We have become so patriotic, in fact, that there was some ho fo sho wearing a Union Jack headband on the beach–ON THE 4TH OF JULY–and we remedied that situation quite quickly and with utmost cultural sensitivity, of course.
Speaking of very American things, I helped with a presentation last week about American traditions and geography. I got an email from the US Embassy asking me to help out, so I did a quick trivia game for a group of high schoolers in Kutaisi. With the exception of them mistakenly saying that Michael Jackson is from California (he is from INDIANA), it went very well.
Ok I think that literally covers everything of interest that I’ve done in the last month. On Friday, I’m leaving for GLOW camp in a remote southern village and I’ll be there for a week. Then, a week after that, I leave for my 10-day vacation to Spain, directly followed by a second week of GLOW. Wooooooooot!
P.S. I’d like to give a special shout-out to Patricia Allen from Ohio State’s PR department for writing an unjustifiably nice article on Fisher College of Business’s website about my work here . Thanks for the flattering words that made my parents proud!