Friday, March 21, 2008

English Language Competition

The run up to the language competition was one of dread and foreboding. My students generally avoided writing the essays that would make them eligible to participate. Some grades didn’t even field a single student. And the general mood of many of my best students was one of lethargy and reluctance. However, at the last moment a few more students came forward and 18 eventually attended the competition.
Last year my school had a couple 4th place finishes. But this year Dimi kicked ass. Of the 28 prizes available Dimi won six and there were even three more schools competing this year. I was incredibly proud of them, especially of Tamuna, the 11th grade winner who came out of nowhere to win 1st place.

The students were interviewed by a pair of American volunteers, from the 20 who showed up to judge the competition. They also wrote creative essays and the judges combined the scores to determine the winners. All students received certificates of participation and the winners received books as prizes. In all, it was a great success and I’ll try to remember the days like this one when I’m back in America.

Of course after anything significant we have to have a supra and so we did. I played the role of Tamada and led the table of Georgian teachers and American volunteers in the toasting. We toasted to each other, to Georgia and American friendship, to our students and counterparts and numerous other toasts. Our toasts were long and heartfelt, our glasses refilled often, and the supra was a mixture of Georgian and American traditions.

When it was over we all went back to Jeff’s house, except those of us who were dragged into a private room in the restaurant to drink vodka shots with some local men. Normally this offer is refused, but since Jeff’s host father was one of the men we gave in.

Soon we were back at Jeff’s and turned his tiny apartment into a dance party and the revelry continued until late into the night. For the 2nd year in a row the English Competition was the party of the year and definitely the place to be. If anyone from back home could have seen the day’s events you’d all be shocked by how Georgian we’ve all become.

So thanks to all the teachers and volunteers who made this day possible. And thanks especially to the students who participated with enthusiasm and skill and made us feel like our efforts are having some impact. It was a great day and one we will cherish for years.



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