Chemi Dabadebis Dghe

Dear readers,

Don’t get too overwhelmed, the title just means “my Birthday.” Yes, today, December 7th, a day that will live in infamy, is my Birthday. I have only a few hours of Birthday left in Sakartvelo, but in America it has barely begun! It’s hard to imagine, because I feel like I have been celebrating nonstop for the last 30 hours!

I had my Birthday party last night because a few of my friends are in Yerevan, Armenia this weekend and I really wanted them to attend. It was perfect.

I am making a stupid face because how can I be bothered to take photos with all of this food on the table?

I am making a stupid face because how can I be bothered to take photos with all of this food on the table?

My host mother really went all out! She made all of my favorite Georgian foods, like vinagreti (which despite the name is really just potato salad) and katleti (a ground meat and onion and garlic and cilantro thing wrapped in flour and cooked) among others. I will try not to go into to much detail because I have a food only post planned for the near future. I just need a few more pictures! But I will tell you this, she made me a pizza with no mayonnaise, which is blasphemy in Georgia, because she knows that I don’t like it. There was also the familar Coca Cola, my Georgian addiction of Nabeghlavi (a mineral water native to my district that I swear cures all ailments), and as usual, wine. The grand finale was an amazing cake that I insisted on eating despite how full I was because it was beyond delicious.

You can tell from my goofy grin that I am super happy. My host family spoiled me beyond what I could have imagined and as is customary at a supra, made a series of toasts to my health, family, time in Georgia, and future. I may not know much Georgian, but I know the smiles and love they give me are genuine. They have been so welcoming and accepting of me, despite the fact that I am completely clueless as to how to function in this country. In addition, I was told by my fellow TLGvs that my host mother made the best food out of all of their families, and reminded me how lucky I am to have such a nice bathroom. Seriously folks, never take for granted your sittable toilet, access to hot water, and shower curtain.

My entire family at my party. Sister Salome, Brother Mirza, Mother Irma, and Father Misha

My entire family at my party. Sister Salome, Brother Mirza, the new daughter, Mother Irma, and Father Misha

The party was a great success. My friends left happy, my belly was full, and my host family felt satisfied  that they managed to fill the void of being away from home on such a day. After doing about 1oo dishes, no joke, and sweeping the floor I was off to bed just in time to watch the clock strike midnight. My real Birthday had only just begun!

This morning, I went to school feeling stressed and overwhelmed after hearing that one of my friends never made it to his host family after my party. His phone was turned off and the entire district was in a panic looking for him. Eventually, I remembered that his Georgian friend, Beka,  knew my co-teacher and that she likely had his phone number. She called to see if Beka had seen him, and sure enough he had found him walking home the night before and brought him to his house. He was supposed to call the host family, but forgot, causing a lot of unnecessary drama, but at least we knew he was okay now!

Once that was sorted, the teachers room wasted no time surprising me!

Once that was sorted, the teachers room wasted no time surprising me!

I honestly did not expect such a production at school. Besides my co-teachers, Shorena (pictured above) and Tsitsi, none of the faculty speaks English and besides the occasional translated question, seemed like they had lost interest in me over a month ago. But they all pitched in and bought me that beautiful cake, along with a tchatcha (moonshine) fountain with matching shotglasses, and a “Me Miqkhvars Sakartvelo” (‘I love Georgia”) coffee mug. They sang the Birthday song to me in both languages, and made me blush the whole time.

The Gut'uri teachers and me, proudly displaying my mug!

The Gut’uri teachers and me, proudly displaying my mug!

After all of the excitement in the teacher’s room, I sort of forgot about the fact that I still had teaching to do! I went to teach my 5th and 6th grade classes, and was sung to two more times, as well as given cards and artwork!

Natia, and the gifted artwork!

One of my 6th graders, Natia, and the gifted artwork!

It was really sweet to realize that my students actually cared about me beyond being a foreign spectacle. Natia drew those for me because I once caught her doodling in class and told her how jealous I was that she could draw so well. When she gave them to me she said, “Happy Birthday, I hope these inspire you to draw.” Um, what? Did I teach her the word inspire? Or even better, did she look it up or ask Shorena because she really wanted to tell me that in English? I was overtaken with cute. Then I went to my 5th grade class and got four handmade cards!

Ok, so I still have some work to do, but at least she spelled my name right!

Ok, so I still have some work to do, but at least she spelled my name right!

It is really humbling to know that in a country where the teachers make unbelievably low salaries, the schools have very limited resources, and the students rarely have school supplies beyond the bare minimum, that gifts and cards for my Birthday were a priority. Georgia is world famous for its hospitality; I read all about it on various blogs and the official TLG website during my application process. Today, as I turned 23, I saw that hospitality in full force.

Me miqkhvars Sakartvelo!

-Kacie Riann

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2 Comments

  1. Dad

     /  December 7, 2012

    Thanks for the great post. I’m glad you were able to enjoy a special birthday away from home. Also, enjoyed watching the first video you have posted.

    Reply
    • I have been taking a lot more videos lately, but they take forever to upload on my internet! I promise to make a better effort!

      Reply

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