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Greenheart Travel - Teach in the Republic of Georgia
Meet Ken Monette, English Teacher in Georgia
GO: What originally inspired you to want to teach abroad in Georgia?
Ken: I spent many years living and traveling abroad as member of the U.S. Navy and I just could never shake the urge to travel abroad even more. After leaving the Navy I taught English in Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Nicaragua, Taiwan and China, and worked as a conflict mediator and volunteer for two years at a Peace & Reconciliation Centre in Glencree, County Wicklow, Ireland. So when I found out about the program here in Georgia I jumped at the opportunity to come and teach English in the beautiful Caucasus.
GO: Describe your day to day activities as an English teacher in Georgia.
Ken: My typical day in the mountain resort town of Surami, Georgia consisted of a hearty breakfast with my Georgian host family, Dato, my host father, a woodworker, his wife Irma, a chemistry teacher at school, their daughter Tamuna, 15 and son, Varshiko, 14 and also Dato's mother Sato who also lived with us. I made the 15 to 20 minute walk depending on the rain, mud or snow to Surami School Number 1 where I taught English along with my two co-teachers Dali and Nino. I tried to split time equally with both of my co-teachers and taught grades 3 through 12. The school itself was over 120 years old and in pretty rough shape with holes in the walls and blackboards, no lights most of the time and of course no heat in winter. There was roughly 250 students and each classroom had a small wood burning stove to provide some heat, although I can say sometimes it was warmer outside than inside the school. Most days just about everyone, students and teachers, kept their coats on during the cold winter months.
In the beginning most of the students were very shy, but as we got to know each other all were very eager and excited to fully participate in the English lessons. I would say most of the students were very good with grammar, writing, reading and comprehension but their biggest difficulty was speaking and communicating in English. So, that's where I came in. Most of the students had never met or heard from a native English speaker or teacher and I can honestly say that after teaching here for one year I definitely noticed a marked improvement in the Georgian students' English speaking abilities.
Lessons began at 9:00 in the morning and typically ended around 2:30 in the afternoon with classes lasting about 45 mins in nice weather and cut back to 40 mins in the dead of winter. I usually taught about 20 classes during a five day work week. After school since their was not much to do in the town I usually played some soccer or basketball with the students in the school yard and I also introduced them to frisbee and American football. It was another great way to interact with them, get them to try to speak more English and also answer their many curious questions about me and life in the USA.
GO: What are your future plans? How has this experience changed them?
Ken: Initially, I only planned to stay and teach English here in Georgia for one year but I had such a great experience I stayed on here and am currently teaching English to the police men and women of the Borjomi police department for 12 weeks. Borjomi is a resort city located in the lesser Caucasus and home to one of Europe's largest national parks and is also known for its mineral water. After this 12 week course is finished I plan to stay on and teach another semester either here in Borjomi or in the capital Tbilisi.
About Greenheart Travel
We are so glad you are taking a moment to read our story, and we hope that we can write the future together. Environmentalism has always played a major role in the lives of the Center of Cultural Interchange's President, Emanuel Kuntzleman and CEO, Laura Rose.
Together in 1995, 10 years after starting CCI, they founded the Foundation for the Future in Madrid, Spain. The foundation supports an ecological group on the island of Ibiza, Spain known as Greenheart. Inspired by the unyielding work of environmentalists growing the green movement in Ibiza, Emanuel and Laura took the decision to orient their work at CCI with the concepts of love and respect for planet earth by incorporating Greenheart into CCI's mission and all departments.