Well, I haven’t blogged for a few days. Why??? Because I have been far too busy having fun, eating strawberries (which sell for about 2GEL per kilo here!!!), and scoffing far too many ice creams to maintain a decent waistline. Plus I am slowly trying to adapt to the summer temperatures. Today it is 29degrees c, sunny, and with a humidity of 61%. Did you hear that all you folk in Britain in the rain:)
You know I am only teasing all you Brits!! But seriously, what should I tell you about today, what will interest you??? Most of the cool stuff I can’t talk about publicly, but just take it from me that all is well in the world of Georgia, and life in the Capital is far more positive than the media, especially the BBC would have you know about. Its a sad fact of life, that only bad news sells, and people only want to know the drama, and not the normality.
In Georgia Today……
Fortunately, the protests all seem to have finished now, and everyone is looking forward to summer. No longer are people wearing boots, but now pretty summer dresses and sandals for the ladies, and the guys look much the same as they did in winter…shirts, jeans, and shoes. Most people seem to be looking forward to school finishing in a couple of weeks, and whilst I am also excited, I also know I will really, really miss school, and the past few weeks have been a lot of fun. But, I will be joining some of my twelfth graders during the holidays, to climb with them in the mountains of Kazbegi, and I am also hoping to keep in touch with my students through our private facebook group, which is starting to gain in popularity. A lot of the children have exams at the moment, so its nice to see them a bit more focused for once. Numbers at school have definitely dwindled recently, and I am not really sure if I will have any students during the last few days of school, but its all good still, and I can’t help but get excited for next semester.
I am still dreaming of my Oceans project, and summer is going to be a lot of work, trying to raise funds for my kids to undertake two big excursions and a day trip to Batumi. But nothing is impossible without a bit of elbow grease, and I plan to do my damnedest to achieve my dreams for them. I am loving all of my classes still, and the massive progress they have made, all bar one class who I still haven’t figured out, and who I hope I do not have to teach next semester, as they have no interest in anything. Its a shame really, because there are some great kids in that class, but on the whole, their attitude is very bad, and it makes one reluctant to bother with them, especially when there are so many other classes who are desperate to learn and practice their English.
Some Unexpected Inspiration from Bjork!
Today, was great fun at school, and whilst a little scary and a massive experiment, the kids really seemed to enjoy it, and it was nice to see the weakest students actually excel at today’s tasks. They love group work, and on the whole are very creative, so I decided to give them the Ooompahloompah poems from the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory book, showed them a video that Icelandic singer Bjork had made using human beat box, and then asked them to turn the Oompahloompah poem into a song or piece of drama to present to the rest of the class at the end of the lesson. They could perform it as a group or individually, using different sounds, items they could find in the classroom, tableaux, mime, or rap. Interestingly, each group came up with something completely different, and all opted to put the poem to music, rather than to use spoken drama (I think it would have been the opposite with English children). It was a massive risk for me, and I was very proud of my co-teacher for trusting me with my crazy ideas for today’s class.
I have been a massive fan of Bjork for a long time, and a lot of student’s have asked me recently about my favourite countries in the world, which got me thinking. Georgia is my number one place to live, but aside from Georgia, my favourite country in the world is Iceland. The landscape is magical, and Icelandic humour and quirkiness is exceptional. Most Icelandic folk believe in pixies, and folk tales are strongly woven into the culture, not surprising given the remoteness and spectacular scenery of the country. Plus, I have always had a bit of a thing for Icelandic (and Dutch) accents, and Iceland was originally settled by Irish monks, so there are close links to Celtic culture and vikings, of which my own genetics and ancestry is also interwoven. This particular song has been one of my favourites since it was released in 2004, so it was cool to draw inspiration from it for today’s lesson, but I had no idea how the kids would respond and whether it would be a triumph, or total chaos.
I only showed them the video of the song, but the makings of videos are really interesting, so I will post them for you to watch.
I really wish I had a video camera, and I would love to invest in one for next term, because what they produced in the lesson was fantastic, and really amusing to watch. The first class performed as one group, because their class was very small today. They are 8th grade, and are really creative practically, and it was kind of nice to give them permission to do all the things that they usually get in trouble for. They went for rhythm as their main feature, and were using belts, coins, plant pots, pens, and crumpled paper to experiment with different sounds. They then came up with a rhythm, and finally put the words for the Augustus Gloop poem to it, with everyone singing, and with no actions. My second class were in the 7th grade, and worked in smaller groups but focused more on lyrics and creating a chorus. It was really fascinating to watch them, because some of the weaker students in terms of English ability, are amazing singers, and so they sang the song, whilst the more academic and less musical students, tried to put a tune and rhythm together under the instruction of the singers in each group. The students who are usually weakest, actually took on a totally different role today and it was strange to see the roles reversed. They decided to focus a bit more on dance moves and gestures too, and used more bodily produced sounds rather than finding items in the class to use. Instructions given to every class were exactly the same, but the results were very different for each group. Sadly my other project class had no lesson today as they are off for exams, but I know they would have loved this. I can’t believe that next week is already our last lesson for the film project.
Georgians and Singing
Singing is such a massive part of Georgian culture, and I was honoured to be invited last night to attend a concert of Georgian folk singers at the Tbilisi Conservatoire (http://www.imerifolk.ge/), a beautiful building, with pastel balconies, and sparkly chandeliers. It was lovely to see the faces of the audience as they watched the performance, and I was extremely impressed with the high quality of the performance. It was also interesting that I was reminded of the Welsh folk singers, and it dawned on me that Georgians are really not so disimilar to other nations in terms of singing.
Here is a little bit of information about Imereti:
Yeah For Summer!
Hmmmm, lots of other things to tell you, but I am too warm and lazy today. The city is looking much cleaner for some reason, and I don’t know why, but since my last blog, the beggars on the metro seem to have been replaced with shiny new vending machines. Progress is taking shape in Georgia, and Batumi definitely looks like the place to be if your an investor or visiting the country. On 3rd July, Chris Boti will be in concert, with guest star Sting. At the end of July is Batumi Jazz Festival, featuring no other, than Macy Gray. And in September, Janet Jackson and Craig David will be performing too. So, I really need to hurry up and get my Batumi book finished……but I am almost there, and am really excited to see it in print, and to start work on my second book of the Georgian traveller’s series. I am really, really grateful for all the help and support that I have received with the book so far, and for the wealth of information and trust that has been bestowed upon me thus far. So, I really hope that I meet the expectations!!! My host mum is the most amazing lady, and I am especially grateful to her for the introduction of Roobosch tea into my life, and for showing me a great place to buy different teas and coffee beans. I felt like a Harry Potter character visiting the shop for the first time, and finding teas for just about every ailment and predicament. Unfortunately, there was no tea that would enable me to avoid a visit to the dentist, but for some reason my tooth has stopped hurting for now, so I am hoping it was just caused by my wisdom tooth pushing it, but I think that might be wishful thinking!
And, since I am feeling so summery, if you want to behave like a Brit this summer, then I suggest you follow the British summer favourites of attending a festival, such as the Cambridge Folk Festival at the end of July or Glastonbury Festival in June or T in the Park (a charity event to raise money for the Prince’s Trust) at the beginning of July:
That’s all for now folks!!!!!!