Report on the EVS-project in Georgia.(25-10-03)

Lut Jitske

At the end of last year (2002), I heard about an EVS-project in Georgia. I was well known with the activities of Falkor and would like to work with them. Due to my recent visit to Romania, I became more interested in Eastern Europe. Furthermore I found myself capable enough in the fields of English and computers to cooperate in the lessons to Georgian youth.

Life in Georgia is quite different from life in a Western European country, and I didn't know much about it. But the months before the start of the project I got more and more information about this sometimes almost forgotten part of Europe. (When referred to Eastern Europe, normally it refers to the Balkan region). But both Falkor and Internet were a big source of information and when I left the Netherlands I felt secure enough for this great new experience.

The first two weeks we (Jitske and I) stayed in an apartment in Tbilisi. We had daily training provided by Ertoba to get used to living in Georgia and retrieving more information about the project. The project would be held in Sagarejo, a small village (about 7000 inhabitants) about 40 kilometers east from the capital Tbilisi.

After the training finished we moved to Sagarejo. We have our office in the building of education. With a lot of posters we managed to change this grey place in a very colorful working area. The first day we were going to support people with education of computer and English skills we already received a lot of people who were willing to participate. So after one day we already started to work on a waiting list.

Computer classes are attended by primarily teenagers who work in pairs on one of the in total two computers. Mainly they learn general information about Windows and to work with Word. Furthermore we work in an informal way in small groups (around 8 people), on English language. From the age of 6 years old children learn English in school, but when they are teenagers their ability to speak clearly is not really developed. So we don't practice much on writing and grammar skills but mainly trying to held conversations. This is all happening in the office. Also we are going to a primary school every day, to work with children of a much younger age, between 8 and 10 years old. The way of working is not much different then with the teenagers, only on a lower level of course.

In the weekends we normally go to Tbilisi, because there is a bit more excitement over there. But in Sagarejo there is a 'big' cinema, with room for almost 400 people. We have been there for 3 times now, but every time it was us two and around 3 or 4 people more. The movies are all dubbed into Russian, but the last time especially for their foreign guests they showed the movie without dubbing, so we were able to understand the movie. We saw a.o. 'Meet the parents' and 'Blackhawk down'.
We are both fairly tall, and Jitske is blond so people can see we are definitely not Georgian, and the people in Sagarejo are not used to that. So still after one month often people are staring at us, like we are some kind of freak show. But we start feeling at home.