So it’s hard to fathom that we are now in our last week of Project Georgia. As we speed towards the end of the project, it is natural that all sorts of mixed emotions begin to surface; mild panic about wrapping things up sufficiently before we go, sadness knowing we will soon be leaving a city and people in it that we have grown very fond of, but also slight relief at the thought of home and its associated comforts.
One of the biggest fears we have is that once we leave that the sessions will evaporate. We are so grateful for the compromises the teachers have made over the past few weeks to accommodate the project and we appreciate it will be tricky for them to fit the sessions into their busy schedules going forward. We feel confident, however, that the staff can really see the benefits of using the alternative approaches we have aimed to introduce, and hope that their belief in these techniques will result in them making the effort to ensure they carry the sessions on.
The staff training session last Friday was another very positive one. There was certainly a healthy amount of debate during the session, with lots of chiming in from virtually all present, which left us feeling exhilarated and exhausted in equal measure. Jenny and I are both are optimistic that this passion for challenging the opinions and ideas which emerged indicates that the staff are engaging deeply with the concepts and methods we have been hoping to embed over the last few weeks.
Again, we were impressed last week with how they have taken on the ideas and suggestions which have been presented and are each developing their own individualised, confident and effective styles of leadership. As we enter the final week here, all of the staff members are now running the full sessions themselves. Our main task over the last few days has been to put together a staff handbook, which will hopefully serve as a useful resource once we have left. We have finished the English version and are now waiting for the text to be translated into Georgian. All being well we should have it printed and made into booklets in time to present a copy to everyone at the final staff training session on Friday.
Our last full weekend in Georgia was partially spent exploring the ancient and beautiful churches of Mtskheta, the old capital of Georgia mentioned in Jenny’s last blog. On Sunday morning, I also successfully negotiated the tirelessly trafficy streets of Tbilisi (I have definitely become a much more assertive roadcrosser after a few weeks here) to reach the Holy Trinity Cathedral, a modern, majestic and mammoth construction with striking views over the city. Unfortunately I arrived slightly too late for the Sunday morning bell-ringing…
This evening we will be joining a large group of staff from the school and Parents’ Bridge Centre for a farewell dinner at a Georgian restaurant. Apparently there is going to be traditional dancing in addition to the obligatory supra (which literally translates as “tablecloth”, but means feast), which will be a lovely way to mark the (almost) conclusion of a successful project. We will certainly be there with bells on!
I feel privileged and thankful to have had the opportunity to work on this very stimulating project, with such adept and adaptable staff, in two very warm and welcoming settings. We look forward to providing ongoing support to the staff once we are back in the UK, and hope to return again soon to this city of contrasts, khatchapuri and crazy consonant clusters.
Isabel and Jenny