Winter break is now officially over and school has been back in swing for the past three weeks. I’m finding that as I teach more, I’m really beginning to understand what works and doesn’t work for my classes and individual students. I’ve also learned that if you tell your students that they will get to play Bingo to review vocabulary words tomorrow, they will all show up to class bouncing off the walls.
Even though my primary job is teaching English, I have been devoting a lot of time to secondary activities lately. Since being elected onto the Life Skills committee in November, I’ve been helping plan one of the committee’s biggest projects: a two-day healthy lifestyles training of trainers (ToT) for PCVs and their counterparts. Throughout all of January, my email inbox seemed on verge of explosion every day as the five other PCVs on the committee and I exchanged and commented on presentation materials for training. The planning culminated in a five-hour “rehearsal” meeting the Saturday before the training, though we still fine-tuned our presentations until the actual training began on Thursday.
The Healthy Lifestyles ToT took place in Bazaleti (at the same hotel we had the supervisor’s conference in June) on January 31st and February 1st, immediately following the two-day in-service training (IST) focused on teaching skills, which I also attended. Originally fifteen PCVs and their counterparts were invited to the training, but a bout of illness at the IST conference left us with a few less participants. Nonetheless, the ToT still ran smoothly and was a great success.
Each member of the Life Skills committee presented his/her own presentation on subjects ranging from the eight characteristics of life skills, how to use the Life Skills health DVD lecture series, and Behavior Change Communication Theory (how to change behavior so that it becomes positive). I presented the current Life Skills resources that are available to PCVs and communities and co-facilitated a session on stigma and discrimination. The stigma and discrimination session really got the Georgian counterparts talking about what is stigmatized here. Some of the stigmas in Georgia are similar to those in America: certain religions, HIV/AIDS, homosexuality, alcoholism, and drug use. Some stigmas are different in Georgia: women smokers, men who do the dishes/housework, and men who don’t drink alcohol. We were worried that the counterparts would be too reserved during this session, but they were very engaged and continued to talk about stigma for the rest of the conference.
At the end of the training, all of the PCVs and counterparts put together an action plan for a healthy lifestyles project that they will implement in their communities. In addition to presenting at the training, I also participated in all the other sessions with my counterpart, Pikria. For our project, we have decided to organize a mini ToT in Bakhvi. We plan to recruit small groups of students in grades nine through twelve to conduct three health trainings for teachers and community members. First, Pikria and I will train the students on a certain topic (e.g. hygiene) and then give the students the resources and support they need to replicate the same training in the community. I think a lot of these health topics are very important for which my community to be educated, and this project also allows students to take leadership roles. I’m still deciding if we’ll begin this project this spring or hold off until the fall when (hopefully!) the multi-purpose room at my school will be renovated (another big project I’m beginning to work on).
Pikria and I making our action plan
The Life Skills Committee (American photo)
The Life Skills Committee (Georgian photo)
So that’s what I’ve been up to lately. Now I’m delving into some more projects: organizing a Write On! competition at my school, writing the grant for my multipurpose room renovation, and planning a four-day SELF camp for girls in June. Time to get busy!
Also, if you want to know what life in the Peace Corps is really like (i.e. not the fluffy stuff I write on my blog), read this article.