As something new and exciting, the blog team has decided to write blog posts about exceptional TLG volunteers. When we were given this topic, Rodi was the first person who came to mind for me.
I work at a hostel in Tbilisi, and I met him just before the summer holidays when he applied to work at our sister hostel in Batumi, he seemed like a pretty reliable guy so I recommended him to the boss, who seemed to agree with my judgement and suddenly Batumi Hostel had a Rodelio. They were the better for it of course, with his big smile, amazing cooking skills and willingness to go out of his way to help you find whatever you needed. I heard so many great comments about him from our guests.
Rodelio is a Tourism graduate with a minor in Business Management who decided that he wanted to teach English, so he did a distance learning course to obtain his TESOL certificate. After he had completed this, it was time to rock and roll. He started working as a part-time conversation instructor for businesspeople and a private tutor in Japan. Just before arriving in the Georgia in April of 2012, he had been working in the Philippines, his home country, at the Mabuhay Edumaker Centre as a Man to Man and Distance Learning Instructor to all ages and levels of English. As you can tell by now, this man was ready to make things happen when he got the position working with TLG.
His reasons for coming to Georgia were simple really. He wanted to teach and share his knowledge with children, but there was another reason: Rodelio wanted to travel to the Western part of the world and discover the life and culture of the people here. He said that he had very little knowledge of this country. The only Georgia he had knowledge of was the State in America, which all of us are familiar with after telling people we are going to work in Georgia and they get excited because The USA is such a great place.
After orientation, as part of group 37, Rodelio was placed in the small village of Sugahelle in Adjara, which, along with Kobuleti, claims a spot as his favourite place in Georgia. There he learnt about how much he loved shashlik and kartopili. He also came to realise that there was a need, a fairly simple one, right there in his school that he could try and fulfill.
At school he noticed that there was a massive ratio problem of stationery to student. He wrote a short story about this problem, which I will share with you in a few paragraphs-time, and decided that there was something he could do. He could find some work over the summer and then he could try to even out the ratio.
What he ended up doing was getting tourists from countries all over the world involved in his project that he called “1GEL HEART” where he asked for just one lari, from each guest, who to their credit, were most willing to offer their help.
It is something so small to some people, having a pen, ruler, pencil and eraser available, but to these kids, it was a very big gift when he handed these treasures over. Here is what he wrote about it when he first devised this plan to collect stationery for his students:
The Parable of the Rubber
It was mid-June, the sun was shining, but the breeze was chilling, I combed my hair, sprayed my favorite cologne and put on my jacket.
The road to my school is bumpy, unpaved and steep; I was a bit lazy that day and I wished I had wings, so I could just fly from my house to school. Nevertheless, wild flowers, sprawling fields and chirping birds kept me amused, not to mention my daily physical calisthenics, which is dodging cow’s poop and puddles.
Finally, I reached school. It’s only an 8 minute walk but it feels more like an hour because of the road condition, I think of it more as my daily hike to school and home.
As I reach my school, I exchanged “Gamarjobas” and “Rogor ra khars?” with the locals as I gasp for air, trying to catch my breath whilst wearing a big smile. (They stopped asking the famous Georgian Question, “Do you like Georgia?” because I have confirmed it more than a hundred times already)
I rushed to the school and started up the chipped and almost broken steps. As I walked to the faculty room “Hello Rodelio” filled the hallways. I just smiled back at them and waved my hand as a sign of my appreciation of their efforts.
Then, its 9 o’clock and a high school student who was assigned to ring the bell started to hit a dangling piece of metal using a piece of rock. After handling 2 classes, my co-teacher approached and asked me if I could handle the next two classes as she had to catch the noon marshrutka for some personal reasons. (1hour walk from the village to the main road if you missed it!).
I nodded willingly with a big grin that almost touched my ears.
Grade 1 – vocabulary exercises.
Sky, clouds, pond, frogs, cakes etc., are some of the vocabulary I asked them to unscramble, as I wrote more words, I heard a tiny angelic voice whispering;“Could you lend me your rubber?” I moved my eyes to where the voice is coming from.
The mighty RUBBER started travelling around the classroom. I turned around and saw a lovely girl reaching for the mighty RUBBER; she paused with innocent surprise and looked at me. I stared at her and gave her the most beautiful smile I could.
As I watched her erasing her errors, using this borrowed rubber, I said to myself, “I will go to the city and find a job that will enable me to give them the most basic necessities for their schooling.”
Thanks to Brigid a fellow TLGer who brought me to Batumi Hostel , Nina & Lasha who permitted me to do my charity project in their hostel (1 Gel heart) and to all the people who gave so willingly to help children they didn’t even know.
Now I have more than RUBBERS! I have Pencils, rulers, notebooks and sharpeners too ^_^
We think that this deserves recognition as going above and beyond the call of being a teacher and being a TLG volunteer. Rodelio has a huge heart and cares so much for his students and ensuring they can do their best by giving them the resources they need. He serves as an example to the rest of us, to teach with our eyes open, to see the things that need changing and to find a way to change them. It can be the smallest things that make the most difference.
Thank you Rodelio for making a difference.