Reflecting on Teaching in Georgia, as a “50 Something”
by Ethyl and Keith St. Peter, Greenheart Travel English teachers in the Republic of Georgia
We arrived in Georgia August 1, 2011. We lived in a large village of about 70,000 people near the Black Sea. The public schools were on summer holiday so we began our time in Georgia teaching police officers. When it was time for school to start, it was decided that the police program would continue and we were asked to continue teaching at police stations rather than at a school. (We had previous experience teaching English at a military academy in China.) We agreed and ended up making some good friends.
We have talked with a gal who works in the police academy in Tbilisi. We told her that we are considering going back to Georgia if we can teach police once again. She said that if the program is still going strong in the fall she would love to have us back!
Why did we want to teach in Georgia? We had kept our eyes open for such an opportunity for several years. TLG offers many perks like providing round trip airfare, a small salary, a mobile phone to use while you are in Georgia, and they even find a host family for you to live with, which really helps you adapt to your new surroundings and language and immerses you in their culture.
Case in point: We lived in a large Soviet-era apartment complex. Day in and day out it was fairly awkward as we walked past our new neighbors. They didn’t know English and we didn’t know Georgian. One of our host family’s neighbors were having a wedding and insisted we attend because they wanted us to bring our camera and take some photos. As we waited for the bride and groom to arrive, someone told us that this was to be a traditional Georgian wedding and that this custom was fading quickly. To be sure, it was much different than any wedding we had attended before, but the greatest benefit was how it helped our relationship with all of our new neighbors thereafter. They made a point to try and say hello and to include us in whatever activity they were doing in the common yard.
We belong to the 50 something crowd. Most of the people in our group were “twenty somethings” so we were the minority. However, we enjoyed getting to know each of them and had fun in the week’s training. It was really refreshing to be around so many warm and positive young people who were willing to face unknown challenges to make a difference in an unknown culture. We are proud of all of them.