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Recent experience in Georgia (Tbilisi)?
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JacobTM



Joined: 02 Jun 2009
Posts: 73
Location: New York

PostPosted: Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:14 am    Post subject: Recent experience in Georgia (Tbilisi)? Reply with quote

Hello,

I'm hoping to hear about some recent experiences teaching in Georgia now that their government has been contracting English teachers for some time. I've read old threads about it, but they are all from years ago, so I'm hoping to hear from someone who's done it recently.

I'm aware the salary is low and I would go with savings, really I'm interested in the experience of staying in Georgia for a few months over making any money.

I've a CELTA and 2 years experience teaching in the U.S. and abroad, so I'm confident in my ability to handle the classes and succeed there.

What I'm interested in is more the specifics of how it works.

Have you been able to choose your city, or is it a roll of the dice?

How has airfare worked, is the teacher expected to buy the ticket and later be reimbursed, or is a ticket actually bought in your name by some third party?

How about living accomodations? The normal deal I see advertised is that you live with a Georgian family, have people had any problems? What is the situation with hot water, food, being able to come and go from the home etc.?

Really, any information and recent experiences from Georgia would be lovely.

Thanks,
Jacob
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Recent experience in Georgia (Tbilisi)? Reply with quote

JacobTM wrote:
Have you been able to choose your city, or is it a roll of the dice?


The government assigns you to a host family, which is likely to be in a remote village. Some people are placed in areas so remote that they can only leave their village once per week.

JacobTM wrote:
How has airfare worked, is the teacher expected to buy the ticket and later be reimbursed, or is a ticket actually bought in your name by some third party?


The government buys your tickets.

JacobTM wrote:
How about living accomodations? The normal deal I see advertised is that you live with a Georgian family, have people had any problems? What is the situation with hot water, food, being able to come and go from the home etc.?


It's all a roll of the dice. At my first placement, we lived in an unfinished Soviet style apartment building in a village. The family I lived with had an indoor toilet and shower, which was nice. I could only shower once per week because they never left the water heater on. Many other volunteers have to deal with wood burning hot water heaters or simply take ladle baths.

Regarding food, it's likely to be far below your current standard of living. At my first placement, I lost about 75 lbs in 6 months because the family only ate bread, jam, and tea for breakfast and dinner. Lunch was almost always pan fried potatoes. Note: I lost this much weight despite the fact that I went to town and ate at restaurants everyday. I'm confident in telling you that most volunteers spend the bulk of their pay going to big cities to eat out on the weekends. It's not easy having someone else determine your meals 7 days per week and it's even less easy when bread is 85%+ of what you will be eating.

I want to be fair and state that at my second placement, we have cheese at every meal, vegetables at two meals per day, and meat every other day. I no longer feel desperate to go out and eat at a restaurant almost every single day.

Regarding problems with host families, you need to send me a private message.

Males are generally allowed to come and go as they please, but you do needs to respect the family's sleeping schedule. Females may encounter problems here - I've even heard of volunteers literally being locked in their host family's house by the males of the family. Females should also expect their host family to attempt to control their interactions with males. Georgia isn't Saudia Arabia, but it's fair to say that it's halfway between Iran and Europe when it comes to women. Edit: this is true for the villages and towns. In the 3 big cities, people are somewhat more liberal and too large for people to gossip about their neighbors.
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jooooooey



Joined: 16 Dec 2009
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Wed Oct 03, 2012 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's somewhat like the South Korean gig, where they choose where you go, buy you a plane ticket before you leave, provide you with insurance and a place to live and everything. You can request a city if you have health reasons, otherwise where you go depends on when you arive. I came in October I think and the October arrivals went in and around Tbilisi. Although a lot of people get sent to far off villages, a lot of the schools are in the bigger cities.

Regarding saving, I didn't come with any money and I got by fine. Georgia's really cheap. You would be making a good salary by Georgian standards. If you want to travel a lot, you might want to bring money though.

Some people had problems, with their family or where they were placed, but if you talk to TLG they'll move you. Everyone tells you something different. I got placed with a university student in his aparment. I helped out a little on rent and bought my own food except when his family visited. I still had plenty of money. Other people didn't like where they lived and rented their own apartment (I think these people had a little bit of savings). Again, this was in Tbilisi.

Some people really didn't like it, it's a much different culture and there's some problems, especially in the schools, but I really liked Georgia.
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jooooooey wrote:
It's somewhat like the South Korean gig


Except that you're paid a fraction of what people in South Korea earn and the locals are equally xenophobic.

jooooooey wrote:
provide you with insurance


Except the insurance is restricted to 8,000 Lari and the hospitals don't even have soap, latex gloves, or running water.

jooooooey wrote:
and a place to live


A place to live where you'll have 0 expectation of privacy and be fed nothing but bread and tea for 2 meals per day.

jooooooey wrote:
You can request a city if you have health reasons, otherwise where you go depends on when you arive.


You can request a city, but the truth is that if you're male, you'll be sent where ever there is housing available. Georgia is notoriously hostile towards foreign males and the Teach and Learn with Georgia program has a wretched time finding host families for male volunteers. Males should generally expect to be placed in the most undesirable places simply because very few host families will accept them.

jooooooey wrote:
Regarding saving, I didn't come with any money and I got by fine. Georgia's really cheap. You would be making a good salary by Georgian standards.


No, you won't be making a decent salary by local standards. It's true that you'll make twice as much as a village teacher, but most educated people in the larger cities make at least twice what TLG "teachers" earn per month. In Tbilisi, 500 Lari is a joke.

jooooooey wrote:
Some people had problems, with their family or where they were placed, but if you talk to TLG they'll move you.


TLG won't move you until they have another host family for you, which could take months for males.

jooooooey wrote:
Everyone tells you something different. I got placed with a university student in his aparment. I helped out a little on rent and bought my own food except when his family visited.


In other words, your experience was very atypical for a TLG volunteer. You've never lived with a host family, nor have you lived in a non-urban environment. I have no problem saying that 95% of males who sign up for the TLG program will not be placed in Tbilisi.
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naughtybynature



Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 15
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Golsa...

I sense a lot of bitterness...

Yes you do earn a lot less than South Korea. No-one goes to Georgia to save money, but the money you make is more than enough to have a good time in most places. In Tbilisi especially if you have your own apartment then that salary isn't enough.

I personally didn't find Georgians to be xenophobic. They may be ignorant at times but not xenophobic. They were very welcoming and most foreigners get treated very well by the locals. I can't comment on South Korea as I haven't been there.

Hospitals aren't great but the insurance actually gets you better access than most locals. In Gori for instance foreign teachers are treated at the army hospital which locals do not have access to. Granted it'a developing country so resources and standards of practice are low sometimes. I have heard some ridiculous stories from Zugdidi for instance.

Males only really have trouble finding host families in Tbilisi. Elsewhere it is pretty straightforward. Care to provide examples of areas where no males are allowed. Undesirable is subjective anyway. From my friends the happiest guy was someone living in Bolnisi which is not a place desirable to me but somewhere desirable to him. Not everyone desires to go to Tbilisi. If you do want to stay in Tbilisi then just rent yourself a place.

As for the host family thing I had three host families during my time in Georgia. My first was brilliant and my second was less good and my third was decent. All had different pros and cons.Everyone has a different experience with host families and it's wrong to generalise. I was fed very well by all and all gave me my privacy. I know teachers who have had terrible experiences and those that have had wonderful experiences. It's a lottery.

Taking months for males is an exaggeration. There are issues with this process as unfortunately there is no issue with families breaching contract. So if a host family decides they don't want you anymore they can just say so without any consequence. There is no notice period stipulated either which is a negative. That said you are housed in a hostel usually in Tbilisi until a new family is found for you.

And my experience was typical for a TLG volunteer. I was initially placed in Gardabani which is about as non-urban an environment you can have in Georgia, and then Gori which is a lot closer to Tbilisi in terms of standard of living.

But the point about Tbilisi is correct. Males find it difficult to find host families there so most guys I know who want to live in Tbilisi just rent their own places. After your first term you can pretty much move wherever you like. There are always available schools so if you want to move to a new place where there are no host families you can always rent.

Your points aren't applicable to most cases in Georgia. They do happen but they are hardly typical.

I am not going to tell everyone they will have a wonderful time in Georgia. We're all different and our experiences and expectations will be different too. I had a wonderful time in Georgia as do many others. There are also many who don't.

Your generalisations don't help potential teachers to make an informed decision.

[/quote]
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naughtybynature



Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 15
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Golsa...

I sense a lot of bitterness...

Yes you do earn a lot less than South Korea. No-one goes to Georgia to save money, but the money you make is more than enough to have a good time in most places. In Tbilisi especially if you have your own apartment then that salary isn't enough.

I personally didn't find Georgians to be xenophobic. They may be ignorant at times but not xenophobic. They were very welcoming and most foreigners get treated very well by the locals. I can't comment on South Korea as I haven't been there.

Hospitals aren't great but the insurance actually gets you better access than most locals. In Gori for instance foreign teachers are treated at the army hospital which locals do not have access to. Granted it'a developing country so resources and standards of practice are low sometimes. I have heard some ridiculous stories from Zugdidi for instance.

Males only really have trouble finding host families in Tbilisi. Elsewhere it is pretty straightforward. Care to provide examples of areas where no males are allowed. Undesirable is subjective anyway. From my friends the happiest guy was someone living in Bolnisi which is not a place desirable to me but somewhere desirable to him. Not everyone desires to go to Tbilisi. If you do want to stay in Tbilisi then just rent yourself a place.

As for the host family thing I had three host families during my time in Georgia. My first was brilliant and my second was less good and my third was decent. All had different pros and cons.Everyone has a different experience with host families and it's wrong to generalise. I was fed very well by all and all gave me my privacy. I know teachers who have had terrible experiences and those that have had wonderful experiences. It's a lottery.

Taking months for males is an exaggeration. There are issues with this process as unfortunately there is no issue with families breaching contract. So if a host family decides they don't want you anymore they can just say so without any consequence. There is no notice period stipulated either which is a negative. That said you are housed in a hostel usually in Tbilisi until a new family is found for you.

And my experience was typical for a TLG volunteer. I was initially placed in a remote village, and then an urban environment in my second term. I also stayed with host families for my whole stay in Georgia.

But the point about Tbilisi is correct. Males find it difficult to find host families there so most guys I know who want to live in Tbilisi just rent their own places. After your first term you can pretty much move wherever you like. There are always available schools so if you want to move to a new place where there are no host families you can always rent.

Your points aren't applicable to most cases in Georgia. They do happen but they are hardly typical.

I am not going to tell everyone they will have a wonderful time in Georgia. We're all different and our experiences and expectations will be different too. I had a wonderful time in Georgia as do many others. There are also many who don't.

Your generalisations don't help potential teachers to make an informed decision.

[/quote]
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

naughtybynature wrote:
Yes you do earn a lot less than South Korea. No-one goes to Georgia to save money, but the money you make is more than enough to have a good time in most places. In Tbilisi especially if you have your own apartment then that salary isn't enough.


I share an apartment with a roommate in a relatively obscure city and it's barely enough to get by. And by get by, I mean buying firewood, paying the utility bills, making home cooked meals, and traveling once per month.

Is 500 Lari enough to go out and have fun each weekend? Here is a quick breakdown of how the salary goes:

* 100 Lari (and 3 hours of English lessons per week) go to the host family
* 50 Lari round trip transportation costs per weekend get away
* 20 Lari per night at a hostel or guesthouse.

If you travel every weekend, you'll spend 200 Lari per month on travel expenses. Assuming you take the overnight train or bus, you still need to spend 20 Lari per night at a hostel or guesthouse, which leaves you with 120 Lari (71 US Dollars) for food and entertainment money each month.

How far does this go? Well, let me say that in Georgia, the average restaurant meal costs approximately 10 Lari and the average museum entrance fee is 2-10 Lari. Assuming you've left your host family every weekend each month, you'll need to eat out from Friday through Monday morning. How much will this cost? Anywhere between 70 Lari per weekend (assuming you eat out every meal from lunch time on Friday through dinner on Sunday) or 15 Lari (assuming you eat very basic bread, cheese, and vegetable meals).

Repeat these travel, hostel, museum, and meal costs for 3-4 weekends per month and calculate exactly how far your money goes.

naughtybynature wrote:
I personally didn't find Georgians to be xenophobic. They may be ignorant at times but not xenophobic. They were very welcoming and most foreigners get treated very well by the locals.


They're as two-faced as people come. Sure, they're friendly to your face, but, when you learn enough Georgian, you'll soon learn what they're saying as soon as you turn your back.

Want a perfect example? Wear shorts on to Tbilisi metro on a hot August day. What will the locals say? Here is a brief example:

Giorgi wrote:
Who does he think he is to wear shorts in public? Does he think this is the freaking beach?

Nino wrote:
I mean really what kind of man wears shorts in public? He must be gay.


Do you really doubt the locals are hostile towards you? If so, I have a simple challenge for you: go somewhere in public with a Georgian woman and watch local men harass you. Heck, do something as simple as make a waitress laugh and watch 3 men approach your table and bluntly ask "Is there a problem?"

naughtybynature wrote:
Hospitals aren't great but the insurance actually gets you better access than most locals. In Gori for instance foreign teachers are treated at the army hospital which locals do not have access to. Granted it'a developing country so resources and standards of practice are low sometimes. I have heard some ridiculous stories from Zugdidi for instance.


The medical standards are garbage and you know it. I've been to two regional capital hospitals and neither had running water or soap in the doctors' bathrooms.

Ignoring the poor hygiene standards at hospitals, exactly how far do you think the 8,000 Lari (4,761 in US Dollars) worth of medical services will go? Yes, it will cover basic colds, flues, and eye exams. No, it won't cover anything that you otherwise associate with medical care in your home country.

Is that better than the average Georgian has it? Sure it is, especially considering the low life span of the average Georgian. I'm sure that you're aware that the average Georgian dies soon after they have a major medical problem. Should you develop a major medical condition with this level of health care insurance, you too will die.

[quote="naughtybynature"]Males only really have trouble finding host families in Tbilisi. Elsewhere it is pretty straightforward. Care to provide examples of areas where no males are allowed.[quote="naughtybynature"]

I sure can. TLG left one male friend homeless for three months -- while he was forced to remain in Georgia -- this summer until he bailed on his contract and took a job in Saudi Arabia. A close friend and I were both sent to cities without host families -- and we weren't told until our bags were loaded on the marshutka. I also have several other male friends who resigned their contracts and chose to change host families and didn't like the first option TLG offered them and asked for a different location. TLG simply told them they must accept this placement because it's difficult to find host families AND schools for males.

naughtybynature wrote:
If you do want to stay in Tbilisi then just rent yourself a place.


Monthly rent on an apartment in Tbilisi is very close to TLG's monthly stipend. It's not as if this is Korea, where you're making a decent monthly salary.

naughtybynature wrote:
I know teachers who have had terrible experiences and those that have had wonderful experiences. It's a lottery.


Your stories are quite different than the poster I responded to. At the very least, you had actual host families instead of living in an apartment with a university student in Tbilisi.

naughtybynature wrote:
Taking months for males is an exaggeration.


No, it isn't. Case and point: my friend, who TLG left homeless in Georgia for 3 months this summer.

naughtybynature wrote:
There are issues with this process as unfortunately there is no issue with families breaching contract. So if a host family decides they don't want you anymore they can just say so without any consequence. There is no notice period stipulated either which is a negative. That said you are housed in a hostel usually in Tbilisi until a new family is found for you.


TLG will pay for the hostel for 5 days maximum, not including weekends, after which you must foot the bill. Will they find you housing in such an emergency case? Yes, they probably will. They're not idiots and surely reserve host families who are willing to accept males in such cases. Did this help my friend, who was left homeless for 3 months this summer? No, it didn't.

naughtybynature wrote:
But the point about Tbilisi is correct. Males find it difficult to find host families there so most guys I know who want to live in Tbilisi just rent their own places. After your first term you can pretty much move wherever you like. There are always available schools so if you want to move to a new place where there are no host families you can always rent.


You need to refer to your contract and review the section where it clearly states that the employer has the ultimate say regarding your placement. Can you rent an apartment in Tbilisi and hope to be placed there? Sure, you can rent the apartment, but TLG has NO obligation to find a school for you. At best, you'll spend 90% of your monthly stipend on a weekend getaway that you may not even have enough money to travel to.

naughtybynature wrote:
Your generalisations don't help potential teachers to make an informed decision.


Sure they do. I'm here to provide a balanced view against people who come here and paint a rosey picture of how easy the TLG is based on their one semester living with a university student in Tbilisi.
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White ice



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

interesting stuff.
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Wed Oct 10, 2012 9:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What's the worst part of the gig in Georgia?

It's a toss up between watching the local teachers keep their jobs after hitting students, which is illegal under Georgian law, and your contract provision that effectively states that you're not a real teacher and your job is only to provide encouragement to the local teachers and students. Yes, one of these is obviously worse than the other, but it shows you what a charade the entire operation is.

The entire operation is a joke and everyone knows it. Oh yea, posting negative comments about the TLG program is even against the contract. I hope that I'm not jailed and abused with broom handles as Georgian prisoners were recently subjected to.
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naughtybynature



Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 15
Location: Georgia

PostPosted: Fri Oct 12, 2012 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not a fan of TLG myself from my own experience but I find that far too often there are those who are either exaggerate how good the program is or exaggerate how terrible it all is...its difficult to find a balance...

500 Gel isn't enough in places like Tbilisi and is a struggle once you don't live with a host family but if you want to live in the capital you have to find additional work. One friend of mine left Zugdidi to move to Tbilisi and made 500 Gel a month from private work. I myself found a second teaching job because I wanted to make more money.

I lived with host families so am not going to disagree with your figures. 500 Gel isn't enough to enjoy yourself while living out.

Georgians are overly nationalistic but I maintain that my experience wasn't xenophobic. We had a local place we would go to and the waitresses used to fraternise with us without a problem. The customers had no problems with us and male friends of the waitress weren't hostile to me but simply shared their chacha with me. I have taken Georgian girls out without incident. So your experiment didn't work in my case. All people have different experiences after all.

You mention what some locals say. Georgians aren't a single entity.

On the medical facilities I agree with you. They aren't great but then I knew that when I got here. However it's worth noting that the low life span of the average Georgia is 77. I can't comment on the major operation point. Do you have something to back up that point?

I've already stated that I think TLG organise the host families very badly. There is no real protection for teachers. I myself was given a few hours notice to leave my second host family so I'm not exactly someone who supports TLG in this area. That said I still maintain that males were able to find host families. The main issue was with males that wanted to move to Tbilisi. I had friends who changed host families and all the males from my group were provided host families if they wanted them. I don't know if things have changed this term but last term stories like yours were an exception rather than the norm.

Out of interest what kind of locations were your friends turning down and what locations were they requesting?

I stayed in a hostel for over a week till they found me a new host family. I didn't pay for the weekends and I didn't pay for laundry either. So your story is news to me. That said it is frustrating and for reasons I have already stated in regards to how easy it is for a host family to let you go.

For my friends that moved to Tbilisi none of them had problems finding schools. TLG has no obligation to find you schools but they generally don't have a problem finding them. The issues my male friends had in Tbilisi was finding host families. School's were not a problem.

And regarding your final paragraph, that's fair enough. Things are not always going to be rosy but that can be down to a number of factors. There are some that just can't adapt to new cultures or this was their first time away from home and they hated it. There are those who have had bad luck with host families. Some have had excellent co-teachers while others have had some that don't even speak English. Some have made an effort with the language and some haven't. All sorts of things effect ones experience here

Everyone is different and they come across different people. No one persons experience is the same and there are plenty of people in Georgia who have both positive and negative experiences of the place.
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 3:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here are some words about the TLG program written by someone who is married to a Georgian woman and has been with the program since group #2:

Quote:
You guys would be surprised at how unpopular TLG is among Georgians. Even in the liberal press, arguments are generally that:

1.TLG volunteers are unqualified nobodies who come to Georgia to get wasted and *beep* around for three months on the government dime

2. We don't respect Georgia's traditions, we mess up their houses, corrupt their children, and generally behave like foreign devils

3. There are far more efficient ways to improve English education in Georgia. Sending a Georgian teacher to the UK for a year to master English might cost as much as five or ten TLGVs for that one year, but that teacher will teach English in Georgia for another 30+ years. In the long run it's more effective to invest directly in Georgians (of verified backgrounds) than in transients (of unknown provenance).


He further comments that Georgians will never say any of this to our faces because not offending us is more important than being honest.
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mzuri



Joined: 30 May 2011
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Wed Oct 17, 2012 5:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I returned to the U.S. in June after a year in Georgia.

Some people have had truly bad experiences in Georgia; some brilliant experiences; most in between. Some had bad experiences through no fault of their own; some had bad experiences because of their attitudes or behavioral choices.

Host families run the gamut from exceptional to miserable.

TLG staff, for the most part, do a very good job under difficult conditions. Sometimes they don't.

Although not without challenges, I had a good experience in Georgia. I was placed in Rustavi and had two host families, both were good.

I see loaded words being used in some of the posts above. "Nationalistic" is one, as in Georgians being "overly nationalistic." From a different perspective - Georgians are honestly, disarmingly proud of their country, culture, and heritage. They love to share it with you, too, in enjoyable ways.

I know the person cited from Group #2 - rather than go by the tiny excerpt provided in the above post re: Neal's feelings/experience on Georgia, read his blog for yourself at http://peripateticpedagogue.wordpress.com/. He has his POV; it is not a universal one. What the poster doesn't share with you is that Neal is the editor of TLG's official blog, hardly the job one would have if he was so negative about the program and the country.

You can look at my experience, too, and judge for yourself the ups and downs re: Georgia: http://livingrootless.blogspot.com/2011/07/first-day-in-rustavi.html.

And here's a guy (a so-called, much-maligned foreign male in Georgia!) who is currently in country: http://sanchezjohnson.wordpress.com/

I was able to live and travel throughout Georgia (with a side trip to Armenia) just fine on my stipend alone. This would have been more difficult if I were placed in Tbilisi. Paying for my own apartment would have made it even more difficult. However, it's pretty easy to get private teaching gigs while there.

To say that TLG is universally despised or is considered a joke by all Georgians. Complete BS.

There's currently a hold on teacher recruitment because of the change in the national administration.
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golsa



Joined: 20 Nov 2011
Posts: 178

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mzuri wrote:
I know the person cited from Group #2 - rather than go by the tiny excerpt provided in the above post re: Neal's feelings/experience on Georgia, read his blog for yourself at http://peripateticpedagogue.wordpress.com/. He has his POV; it is not a universal one. What the poster doesn't share with you is that Neal is the editor of TLG's official blog, hardly the job one would have if he was so negative about the program and the country.


It's true that Neal is currently the editor of the official TLG blog, but it's also true that since arriving in Georgia, he has been fired from two different TLG special projects.
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mzuri



Joined: 30 May 2011
Posts: 75

PostPosted: Sat Oct 20, 2012 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know how your gossip about Neal pertains to this thread's topic, which is the TLG/Georgian experience.

I think it's an inappropriate and unfair post to make.
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Sumbo11



Joined: 22 Aug 2012
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I spent 8 months in Georgia this past year. I did a 4 month contract with TLG, and then started my own summer IEP outside of TLG. I lived in a very isolated and rural village in the mountains in Adjara.

This experience was one of the best in my entire life. I was with an incredible host family. The entire village was very welcoming to me. If I walked around, it was guaranteed that I would be invited into someone's home to eat and talk.

While I think the program is ineffective, I made a significant difference in the lives of the students. After class I would regularly play games, sports, and cards with the students. In the summer I was invited to many of their mountain homes to stay and relax.

I spent very little time with other TLG volunteers. I came to Georgia to teach in a unique cultural environment. 500 Lari is very little, but I still saved at least 30% of that. This a volunteer program with a monthly stipend.

I never received any harassment for being a male, foreigner, American, or someone who wears shorts (all of the young men wore shorts in the summer, too). If anything, because of those things Georgians were much more interested and open in speaking with me.

I wish I could have stayed longer, and I would like to return and visit my host family and friends in the future.
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