You guys are sending great questions and comments so far. Thank you! Below are responses to a few of them and a small trivia question worth some Georgian candy (no Mr. Churchward you're not eligible to win - only students). I will answer more later.
1. What kind of holidays do they have there?
Like us, they have lots of holidays. Some are religious, like Easter, which is celebrated on May here this year, and St. Andrew’s Day on May 12 (he was supposedly the first to bring the message of Christianity here). As for national non-religious holidays, they have two independence days. One in May celebrating when they became an independent country (which only lasted for three years) in 1918. The second is in April celebrating their latest independence after the Soviet Union ended in 1991.
2. Have you had to speak their language so that they could understand you?
I’ve learned a few words and phrases to get me by. Some people speak English well, but most only have a very basic English vocabulary. When I spent six days in Batumi, on the Black Sea near the Turkish border, I was able to speak a lot of Turkish, which was fun. In schools, the secondary students were able to understand most of what we were saying. However, the English teacher had to translate for us in the younger classes.
3. How many grades are there in the school? And what are they called?
Georgian schools go from 1st to 12th grades. The Georgian word for school is სკოლა or skola. The only big test that students take, like the STAAr test in Texas, is at teh end of their 12th grade year. But everything rides on that one test. If you do poorly, you have no chance of getting into a good university.
4. Have you asked them to write an essay on their daily schedule? If so, about how many? Did you receive anything from them?
I did ask them to write about their typical school day. And many did. I haven’t counted them all, but I gave them 64 from Kerr and I think based on the size of the stack, there is at least that many from them. I will pass them out to those Kerr students who wrote an appropriate narrative.
5. The McDonald’s is really cool. Why are there carrots in a cup?
It is really cool. The carrots were just decoration and not real. I had to look closely because they were very life-like. This McDonald’s tried to give off a healthy, organic-vibe with its decor and signs. I think it worked. It didn’t feel like I was in an American fast food joint.
6. What does it mean by Orthodox church?
There are several groups that fall under the Christian religion. The three major groups are Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox. When we were studying Europe, we talked about the Protestant Reformation and a certain person who lead a protest movement against the pope and the Catholic church. This started a new “type” or group in Christianity called Protestant (Baptists, Methodists, etc… are all in this group). For a piece of Georgian candy, click on the link below and send me the name of this certain person who started the Protestant Reformation (no Googling, you should know this).
As for Orthodox, this is another type of Christianity that is more common in Georgia, Greece, Russia, and other European countries. Go back to my post on Georgian Orthodox to get more details by scrolling down two posts.
7. Does their classroom look like ours?
I visited two schools and the classrooms didn’t look like ours. They were much older and had one chalk board. The desks were usually put in rows. Not much covered the walls. They did have coat racks on the walls, since students stay in the same class all day and it gets really cold here. Some other American teachers visited schools that were more similar to ours. Once I get back to the states, I’ll post more videos from classroom visits so that you can see for yourself. For now check out an earlier post about my first visit to a school by clicking here.and watch the short video below.
If you have any questions or comments or want to answer the question about the Protestant Reformation above, be sure and click on this link. I will try to get back to you.
"This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are the grantee's own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State."
Stephen Blan teaches US History at Fort Worth Country Day in Fort Worth, TX and is a 2015 Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow.