EEKK!! I haven’t had a chance to blog for a little while, but should try and make it a quick one, as still lots to do!
The Twitter site is now up and running, and we have 200 followers so far, including some very cool explorers and quite a few Ministers and Prime Ministers from around the world, plus some amazing conservation and cetacean organisations, so that is very inspiring.
Am so touched by the amount of support we have received so far, and it really motivates me to continue working hard every day. Life is pretty good here, the plague of locusts have disappeared now, and the temperature has dropped substantially so its much more pleasant for working now. Life couldn’t be sweeter really. My only issue is that due to a Ministry muck up, I haven’t been paid for two months of work, which has added a lot of pressure as I only have 6gel (just over £2) to live off and feed a dog and two cats for the next two months. No idea what to do about that, as its tricky to find work right now, and my new job starts on 15th September. Thankfully my boss is letting me stay at her old house in the city free of charge and paying the bills so that I can focus on the project before I start teaching at her school on 15th September. The rest I will have to try and figure out, but its very worrying! If the Ministry/TLG paid me for the work I have done then I would be fine and not in such dire straits, but since they are all away on holiday now, and playing hard to get it seems, there is no point stressing about it. They also didn’t pay the teachers from school either, and they only got their salaries for July last week! Joys of living in a country undergoing reform and where there are no consequences for actions!!
Anyway, enough of that rubbish. My PhD proposal is coming along very nicely indeed, has been submitted to Brunel University, and I am hoping that they accept it ready for me to start in October.
The PhD is basically about the Oceans Project, and whether it might be a good method for teaching English and about the environment. I want to see what knowledge people have at the beginning, and then at the end. Its mainly social psychology based, but also has a strong marine mammal/biology/conservation element.
The PhD will last four years and the main aspect will be the Oceans Project which will run over 12 months total. I can then decide whether to run it again for another target audience, or to continue with the same participants on other related projects, or to do something different.
The plan is to measure environmental literacy in the participants, their families, TLG volunteers, students across schools in Georgia, fishermen, and fishing families along the coast of Georgia, as well as summer tourists in Batumi and other coastal resorts.
My marine related interest will be the Black Sea dolphin and porpoise as both are under threat, and there is little information on them from the Georgian side of the Black Sea. I plan to become an expert in bottle nose dolphins over the four years, to fill in knowledge gaps about them from a Georgian perspective and to work with cetacean researchers around the world and to undertake small studies related to my experiences. This will keep me pretty busy over the school holidays, and with any luck I can get funding and papers published over time, ready to set up some educational programmes at schools along the Georgian coast, and to work with fishermen to study cetacean by-catch, to establish data on the health and distribution of the dolphins, and to find ways to prevent cetacean by-catch.
So, in all, it will be a busy four years, but hopefully a lot of fun! Today, I am working on a possible corporate sponsorship package with McDonalds in Georgia, and if that comes off that could be very exciting and fantastic news for Georgia, as I am sure that people will be less afraid to follow suit when they see that McDonalds is already involved in environmental and conservation initiatives worldwide, and hopefully Georgian businesses will follow suit. I am now liaising with their PR and corporate sponsorship people in UK, Europe, and USA. So fingers crossed that we can pull that off, as it would be an amazing partnership. McDonalds have previously worked with Earthwatch in the UK, so are already aware of the benefits to their staff, and if we can set up a similar scheme here, it would be very exciting to have the McDonalds Georgia staff involved in the project.
OK, so that is all for now. Time to get on with some more work!