I can barely write after the never ending supra we just had at an amazing restaurant in Tbilisi. I am STUFFED full of delicious Georgian cuisine, which is unlike anything I've ever tasted! A supra is a traditional Georgian feast where the food just keeps coming. I am not kidding when I say there were at least eight courses! The supra was the highlight of yet another culture-filled day in Tbilisi.
|Khinkali, a meat-filled dumpling|
|Tiko, our Georgian Host|
|Me, Lela (Georgian/American student) and Joe|
After Tiko's session, we headed to the Youth Palace, where we heard from four alumni of the TEA (Teaching Excellence and Achievement Program,) also funded by the U.S. Department of State. These young people talked about their early educations in Georgia, and the wonderful opportunities they have had in the American school system or as students of American teachers (like our awesome IREX leader, Claire.) The students reflected on the differences between American and Georgian schools. One of the biggest differences they all agreed on was that American students have more choice. Our students have electives, clubs, sports etc., which is not the case in Georgia. Even group work (collaboration), and voicing one's opinion is not encouraged in the typical Georgian classroom. Technology is also very limited, with maybe one computer lab with spotty wifi in each school building. Although Georgians love Facebook, digital citizenship is not taught in the schools, and parents are very unaware of their children's digital footprints. After hearing from these students, I just reminded my own kids on Google Hangouts just how LUCKY they are to be Americans and to have access to a topnotch education. They probably don't fully appreciate what I am saying, but I will KEEP reminding them!
|The old Parliament building, the site if Georgia's|
Rose Revolution of 2003
Finally, we spent a few hour at the U.S. Embassy just outside of Tbilisi, where we were given a security briefing, as well as more specific information regarding programs targeted at improving Georgia's education system. Embassy officials kept reiterating how important our role was as educators in forming lasting relationships between the U.S. and Georgia. Georgia is an extremely important ally and our being here is clearly appreciated by our government as well as the Georgian people. What a great feeling!
Tomorrow is another busy day in Tbilisi, where we will get to visit our first school. That's all for now...Madloba! (Thank you in Georgian)
Students: What do you think? Do most American students take their freedoms and educational opportunities for granted?