by Victoria Borisch, Greenheart Travel Teacher in the Republic of Georgia

For many years, it has been a great interest of mine to work with disadvantaged children, specifically orphans, in Eastern Europe. When I came to Georgia, in mid-February, to teach English, I wondered if this could be a possibility. In addition to my work at school, I felt that this could be a great way to give back to the community so I contacted my Greenheart Travel and Teach and Learn with Georgia representatives with hopes that they could help me make arrangements to volunteer at a home for disadvantaged children.

They were supportive every step of the way. They found a volunteer opportunity for me at the Zugdidi orphanage and contacted the director on my behalf. Volunteering there has been one of the best experiences of my life. My fellow TLG volunteer and very good friend, Gabrielle Redmond, also volunteered there with me and I am so glad we could share this experience. We worked for several weeks with a small group of very enthusiastic children.

During our time at the orphanage, we presented information on various topics such as music, food, dance and everyday life in our native countries, America and Australia. Most importantly, the children were able to exercise their burgeoning language skills by sharing their traditions, thus enriching the cultural exchange. We also played many different games which kept the children interested and we encouraged them to use the English language at every opportunity. Through such activities, the children became more confident in their English skills, including speaking and comprehension.

Each visit they were using more and more conversational English than the time before. I believe that this experience has had a positive impact on everyone involved. The children at the orphanage have truly touched my heart. They are a fantastic group of kids with a lot of potential. This experience has reaffirmed my desire to embark on a professional course that would enable me to work with disadvantaged children in Eastern Europe. I will always be thankful to have been given the opportunity to work with the wonderful children at the Zugdidi orphanage during my stay in Georgia.