Waiting for Spring

Apparently I want a kind of project that’s not a teaching project — like an assigned essay or research project — or a small book, if I were especially inspired — that I could tinker with on afternoons like this, when I’m tired of winter, and yet it’s still snowing and snowing, with grey skies and cold rooms. I thought that last year as well, even in warm and sunny Tucson, so perhaps I just miss being a student, and don’t seem able to put that extra energy into things that would be actually appreciated, like clubs and more interesting classes. If it were really spring I would, perhaps, have gone to Nikozi today to visit some classes, or for a long walk in the hills, but it’s snowy, with lovely fresh powdery show on the trees and in empty garden, and ugly dirty slush in the streets. I’m not sure what kind of a project it is, though. Apparently not memorizing words in Georgian.

In the meantime, however, TLG posted a volunteer talk from a TEDx conference in Tbilisi last month. It’s a fairly interesting consideration of cross-cultural communication and signaling mismatches, such as the difference between a plate with food still on it in some parts of Georgia (my hosts can afford to feed me sufficiently), vs in America (I’m wasting my host’s food), and why some Americans compulsively eat everything on their plate even when they no longer want to, and why some Georgians compulsively add more food to their plates, even after they’ve already eaten rather too much for one person. Another example he uses is the pragmatics of American racial discussions, where”people of color” can be overly polite, while “colored people” can be offensively rude, and “black people” is alright for everyday speech, but not acceptable formally — and how one of our goals as language volunteers is to deal with things like this, and be “cultural ambassadors” from our home country and culture.

I have had a somewhat different experience, but his observations are generally true among the foreigner-loving partying Georgians who tend to invite strangers to supras.

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