Our TLG staff training began yesterday after lunch; we had about an hour of miscellaneous introductory stuff, and then we went up a hill to the open air museum of ethnography for the first of three cultural training sessions, taught by N. Where we were the museum had purchased traditional Georgian houses, moved them to the site, and then reconstructed them inside of grassy yards with some traditional furniture inside, for people to visit. We looked inside two of the houses, and had our training under a tree in the grass. N has a MA in education from America (New York), and teaches like it. We had a graphic organizer (what your hope to learn, what you’d rather not learn, ways you might best contribute), a jigsaw collaborative activity (where you break up into groups, go over some information in your group, write down what you have discussed on a large sheet of butcher paper, and then come back and give a mini presentation to the group), and a visual organizer for “the iceberg” as a way of looking at what kind of thing culture is.
The jigsaw was about the stages of culture shock:
- phase 1, where everything is new, exciting, and wonderful;
- phase 2, where one starts to be homesick and irritated by all the differences and one’s own disrupted habits;
- phase 3, where one begins to acclimate and become more comfortable in the culture; and
- phase 4, where one has undergone changes as a result of cultural immersion, and has to integrate and sort through them as one returns to one’s native culture.
According to the iceberg analogy (we had to discuss this in SEI (structured English Immersion) class in Arizona as well), lying above the service of the water are the obvious facets of culture, such as song, dance, costume, art, music, poetry, food, and so on – basically, the expressive, artistic side of a culture. It is said, however, that 90% of the mass of an iceberg lies underwater, and so it is with culture as well; underneath those expressive aspects of culture lie a number of other habits, beliefs, assumptions, values and ways of looking at or participating in the world that are mostly invisible, even to oneself.
The museum closed at six, so we had the mazurka (a van that functions between a taxi and a bus) drop us off in the old part of town, and walked a bit; we went by the old cathedral, went into a bread shop and shared a piece of bread (it was hot, good, and rather salty), and by some mineral spring baths, which had brick domes built over them in asiatic styled domes. Apparently there are a number of rooms which can be rented, and people inside who clean the bath goers. There we encountered a couple of people from Ukraine who were shooting a little video on the baths for TV, and they filmed a couple of people from our group, asking them what they thought of the place as visitors. Then we returned to the hotel for dinner All of our meals are buffet style at the hotel, and we aren’t always sure what we’re eating.