Like Family

Posted on February 24, 2012 by


I have now been in Georgia for over a month.  I’ve been integrating well with my host family (who is really awesome).  I have two host brothers aged 14 and 17, my host parents and grandmother.  My eldest brother speaks pretty decent English, and the younger one usually understands me but he is very shy about his English so it is difficult to get him to speak to me unless we are alone.  It is odd having brothers.  I grew up in a very female dominated family (7 guys/14 girls in my extended family not including some recent additions).  I have one younger sister, and while we did wrestle when we were young, we weren’t doing it in our teenage years with MMA influence like my host brothers.  My younger host brother almost beat the older one for the first time the other day, but big brother proved too strong and broke the submission.  Boys will be boys.

I have been placed in a small village in Guria called Zemo Natanebi.  My school has roughly 100 students with my classes ranging between 5 and 12 students.  As with all TLG volunteers I only teach 1st-6th grade.  My host family owns a large farm nearby and appear to be affluent given the area we are in.  I have good internet, two (yes two) indoor western toilets and a hot water heater.  The only downside to my situation is that it is difficult to get in and out of the village (also there aren’t any interesting places to walk to, everything is just a street lined by houses).  There are only a couple of marshutkas and they leave town at 9:30 AM and then return from their respective cities at 1:30.  I have only left the town twice in the past month.  The first was to meet my regional representative in Ozurgeti, and the second was to go to Zugdidi to meet up with some fellow TLGers.  My host father was kind enough to drive me out to the main road and pick me up on the Zugdidi trip.  My host mother takes good care of me and is an excellent Georgian cook.  I get khachapuri regularly and she makes amazing bread which is very good with a beef and potato soup she makes.

The school has really tried to make me feel at home in my new job.  My director just married one of my co-teachers and the wedding supra was last night.  Everyone has heard the term feast before, but I’m sure few Americans have truly experienced one.  Yeah we can lay down some food and go buffet style, but last night was a whole ‘nother level.  We arrived and watched the newlyweds come into the house.  The man doesn’t carry the woman across the threshold because they have to stomp on a plate together as they enter the house.  I believe the number of pieces it shatters into is supposed to be the number of years they will happily be together (I counted at least 20 bigger pieces and couldn’t count the smaller shards).  Then everyone went upstairs and individually toasted the couple with champagne.  Then it was time for serious business.  We all grabbed a spot at a table where there was already quite a spread; khachapuri, satsivi, bread, churchkela, a Georgian fruit roll-up (I didn’t catch the name), grits (name unknown), mtsvadi, and more wine than you can shake a stick it.  Also let it be known that Lemonade in Georgia is not American lemonade.  It is a brand of fruit flavored sodas (the pear one is especially good).

But enough about food, what about it made me feel like family?  Well I’m glad you asked.  I was out on the dance floor (it was outside so loose rocks and dirt) dancing with one of my 6th graders when I tried to spin, caught a loose stone with my foot, tried to catch my balance and bumped into the platform the new couple was on and proceeded to fall head first into one of the PA speakers.  I banged my knee up pretty good, got a knot on my head and dirtied up a nice pair of pants and shirt.  Everyone rushed to help me, I followed some people inside the house and my host mother came running in after me.  I got a cold rag for my head and took some kind of pain reliever for the headache.  My mother insisted we go home but I toughed it out for another 45 minutes before the loud music made my head pound worse.  It was good to know I still have a mom here to have my back (no offense to my real mother, and I know you would jump on a plane in a second if I needed it).  I’m very happy to be a part of a family here and not on my own.

Posted in: Host Family