Saturday, March 1, 2008

Turning a new leaf. Or: That is, if the leaves start coming back.

So I spent the last week in Tbilisi. It was a very difficult week, punctuated by several different sources of stress during the day and then, as young people are wont to engage in, various means of releasing that stress in the evenings. Let me just say, as an illustrative example, that any beverage entitled, "The Kiss of Death," is not something about which you should contemplate, "I wonder what that will do to me tonight and tomorrow morning."

Much of what made the week difficult was that I was spending three days working with two members of my organization, on really important things like time management and long-term planning and project design. These are crucial themes for them, and I felt a really heavy sense of responsibility to be doing the best I possibly could in helping my coworkers to understand them, and to somehow correct the situation if they didn't. The first half of the training was centered around the creation of a "practice project," which for us was actually not a practice project but a real project that we will be attempting to get funding for very soon. It's an integration project where we take children from a nearby boarding school for orphans and handicapped children to a camp, where they would plan a school-year long set of further integrat...ive activities for other children. So, basically, it felt like if I f#$%ed something up, I would be causing the ruin of orphans and handicapped children. Oh, and I have not yet mentioned: I was doing the entire training in Georgian. This is something the other volunteers at this training did not have to do. Their counterparts speak at least pretty decent English (except for the one who can talk to her counterpart in Russian, which is just unfair). Mine do not, so I had to struggle through discussions of things like, "we have to make our objectives and action plans more concrete," and, "what other resources will we need to have in the budget?" in Georgian, with minimal help. I'm glad that it, seemingly, worked out, and that both me and my "counterparts" were able to communicate our ideas most of the time, but it was one of the most mentally exhausting things I can recall ever doing. People kept complimenting me on my Georgian during the trainings; obviously, it's nice to be complimented, but it would be nicer to have the sort of successes that are only possible when you can communicate your ideas in English to someone who will understand them.

Thankfully, it was a very successful week. I'd been struggling to find directions to move my organization in, recently, and this week solved those problems. We have a lot of work to do now. But it will be up to me to help my coworkers do that work. And the week did little to pull me out of the (at this point comically) extended funk I've been in. I'm sure you're all (perhaps using an open-ended, plural term to categorize my audience is overly optimistic) getting a little tired of how I have been utilizing this space recently -- basically as a limitless forum for my own complaints and whining. And I'm hopeful that I'll come back to my winter posts at some happier time (say, June) and be dismayed at how snively I have been sounding these last two months. After all, today is the first day of March, the first day of the first month in which nature begins to rouse itself from months of slumber and stupor. Spring is around the corner, friends, and perhaps with it a solution to the things I have been unable to solve purely through personal willpower. I may snap out of my troubles the first day I wake up to the sight of something other than my sleeping bag. I may begin to skip again when doing so will not result in landing in a puddle of slush, dirt, and the motor oil from a 1974 Lada sedan. I may resume posting flowery treatises on the idyllic things I see every day here once I am finally able to stop ignoring them, lost in my own head.

This would be a preferable scenario to, say, realizing that not even spring could make what I'm dealing with easier. Which is just as plausible. You can't shit a shitter. Not that I'm calling myself a shitter. I have forgotten my point entirely, here.

What I am saying is, my apologies for the woe-is-me vibes. But, at the same time, I promised a more lengthy, amusing entry on the Week That Was, and I don't really feel like writing it. So, instead, I am going to post directly after this post the other Better Know a Georgia segment that consists of an entry I wrote for the G8 Alternative Handbook: The Supra. I have already laid out for you some information about supras, in my post about my host brother's wedding, but you can never get too much supra, in Georgia. I, for instance, had a supra two nights ago, and will have another one tomorrow! Hooray! Of course, if you are reading this post in the normal way -- on the actual blog page, instead of through some fancy feedreader or whatnot -- you know what the next post is, because you have already read it! Because it is above this one! On the page! But I wrote this first! ... You have stopped caring. I know. You can't, after all, shit a shitter.

1 comment:

Brenden said...

You definitely aren't alone in the whole 'my counterpart only speaks Georgian' thing. Allison and I both have the same issue... It's very, very difficult in a way that most people can't understand to work, daily, in Georgian. Good work on successfully making it through the training intact, and good luck on your project!