1. Making Tolmas (Stuffed Cabbage and Grape Leaves)

    Today, I learned how to make another Georgian dish but this one is very close to my heart.  Many different countries have a rendition of this recipe and because of my polish heritage (where is is called Golumpki), it happens to be one of my father’s favorite dishes. 

    Today I learned how to make stuffed cabbage and grape leave rolls with my host mother.  I don’t know the specifics like how long to boil the cabbage leaves but it was still fun.

    This bowl has ground beef, garlic, cilantro, salt, ground pepper, onions, rice as a thickener and a little bit of ground red pepper (A TINY TINY PINCH!).  Then you mix it all together.

    How my Host mother boiled the cabbage…She did not boil the grape leaves, just pulled them out of a jar.

    Wrapping up meat in Grape Leaves and Cabbage Leaves

    Put them together in a big pot and then just add water and tomato paste

    Lastly, my host mom put salt on top and put a plate over the stuffed cabbages and grape leaves.  She let it cook on the stove top for about an hour to an hour and half.

    THE YUMMY ENDING RESULT!! I probably ate 6 of them hahaha I am so glad I learned how to make these and they are fairly easy. I am totally going to make them again :)

  2. 2nd care package from Home
THANKS SO MUCH MOM AND DAD! You have restocked my supply and have made me very happy.
(Not included in the picture: Bag of Starbursts because they were eaten before they could be included by me and my fellow volunteers YUM!!)

    2nd care package from Home

    THANKS SO MUCH MOM AND DAD! You have restocked my supply and have made me very happy.

    (Not included in the picture: Bag of Starbursts because they were eaten before they could be included by me and my fellow volunteers YUM!!)

  3. What Has Happened Since the Start of School

    Well the answer to that question is simple….A LOT!

    School started on Sept. 15th and all I did for the next two weeks after that was observe class after class.  Peace Corps wanted me to observe as many different grades and as many of my counterparts as I could (I only have three).  The goal of these two weeks was to decide what grades I was going to teach this semester and with what counterparts was I going to partner teach with this semester.

    I have to be honest, it was very hard to observe classes and decide because I wanted to work with every class.  I had to observe the students’ level of knowledge in English, how the students behaved in the classroom, how the students acted when I participated in teaching, what sort of material the different grades were learning and decide if I would enjoy teaching that subject and finally decide where I thought I would be most effective.  Naturally, I found reasons to try and teach every grade which I am not allowed to do because there are too man classes and not enough hours in the day to do so.  I also had to observe each of my counterparts to see their teaching styles and methods and see where I would be the best fit. Generally it was a little confusing but I finally figured it out.

    I am teaching with all three of my counterparts and teaching 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th and 10th grades.  I love that I am teaching many different grades because I can see how the grades start out learning English i.e. 1st and 2nd grades and then also how the teaching structure and learning abilities develop as the grades get higher.  

    Now this week, I have been teaching along side my counterparts.  It has been a great experience so far but also an eye-opening experience.  The children have been great and really love having me in their classroom.  There are definitely kids who always participate and children who are shy or don’t feel like they have the skills to participate so my goal is to will the more shy kids out of their shells, to enjoy school more or at least participate more in english class.  I am now lesson planning every night, teaching every day and add that to my own Georgian lessons twice a week and participating in some activities at an organization in town…I am ONE BUSY WOMAN!

    AND I HOPE TO DO MORE! I want to start some after school programs at my school and I want to do some projects within my school as well. I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS! SO the next step is to figure out a regular, daily schedule where I can fit everything in as well as have some time to relax.  I also need to come up with a way to survey my students for clubs and activities they want to do after-school such as a movie club or a culture.  

    Stay Tuned for me updates :)

  4. Cooking in the Corps →

    Here is the link to an interview that I did about Georgian Food.  So if you want to know more about Georgian food and culture…This blog is for you.  It also features other Peace Corps Volunteers from many countries.

    Enjoy :)

  5. Shaori Lake = The End of Summer

    Well here it is a Day Late and a Dollar Short….As always I am behind on my blog posts…I have about 3 or 4 planned but I guess I should go in order.

    I am now into my first week of school but first, last weekend, I did a last hurrah before school with a lot of my friends at Shaori Lake and it was a blast.  It was just the usual stuff. We camped, sang, had cows storm our camp site and tents, eating people’s food as they went. Yeah normal stuff…

    I just can’t get over how I am always surprised how beautiful this country is.  Every time I travel and get to stare out the window for hours with music blasting out of my earbuds, I just admire the scenery and colors that sped by me on a Marshutka.  Georgia has such a diverse topography.  Georgia has beauty everywhere you turn and Shaori Lake did not disappoint. 

    Shaori Lake is in the Racha Region of Georgia and it is beautiful.  My weekend included Beautiful sunrises and sunsets, mist on the lake, swimming, having a HUGE picnic of sharing food, walks on the beach complete with skipping rocks, taking a lot of pictures and FREEZING cold nights where we huddled around a fire to keep warm but I created a lot of good memories. It was great end to my first summer in Georgia and a nice introduction to Fall here in Georgia. NOW THE PICTURES!! :)

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  6. SELF CAMP 2014

    Well as I have said countless time before, I am so bad at updating this blog but I have to say this time, I have an excuse because I have been crazy busy for the last two weeks.

    The big thing that I was involved in was a Peace Corps Camp called SELF Camp which stands for Self-Esteem and Leadership through Fitness and that is exactly what it is. Girls from different regions come together for a week to learn about self-esteem, leadership and a healthy lifestyle. We as volunteers introduce them to all kinds of physical games and activities and also organize trainings and lectures to give the girls needed information about a healthy lifestyle and how to be a leader in their community.

    Now this year since I am a new volunteer I just joined the camp to observe and help out so can bring the camp to my region next summer. SELF Camp was held in Kobeleti, Georgia in the Adjara region which means I FINALLY GOT TO SWIM IN THE BLACK SEA!  I learned a lot and had a lot of fun with the 21 girls who came to the camp :)  The campers who came to this camp were from the Adjara and Guria region and usually from villages in the mountains or villages that wouldn’t have these kinds of opportunities often.  I felt very happy to know that I was helping in a way for these girls to gain new knowledge and hopefully spark something within them to strive to be the best they could in their lives. We all made new friends and did a lot of exercise.  The campers surprised me a lot with how much they were willing to do actives such as T25 (the shorter version of P90X)..I mean I was exhausted after doing this workout so I expected the girls to be too but they LOVED IT! Another activity that the campers loved was Yoga which I am super excited for because I LOVE YOGA!

    One Training that I thought was a great idea was that the Peace Corps Volunteers that planned this year’s SELF camp had a women’s panel. This meant that 4 professional women with various backgrounds and ages from Georgia came to the camp and just answered any questions the campers had about being a professional woman in Georgia.  Hopefully this inspired the campers to consider going to university and having career and that it showed them that as women, they can strive for whatever they want in life.

    On the last day of camp, the campers had to prepare a project that they were going to bring back to their communities to teach their families and friends about what they learned.  This could be anything like having people do a workout video wight he girl or handing out pamphlets about healthier food Choices. Whatever the girls wanted to do in their community. This helps spread the word and mission of the camp to community members who could not attend the camp. Hopefully little by little it will spark change toads exercise, healthier eating and an overall healthier lifestyle but overall all we want as volunteers is for the campers to have a good time and to learn something at SELF camp which I think all the girls this year did.  Hopefully the projects that the girls created go well in their communities and We can hear back from them on their successes.  I am excited to hear what happens :) I

    Anyway, I had a lot of fun.  I am tired but I am excited to bring this camp to my region next summer and hopefully it will be successful. I am a little intimidated just because I don”t have all the resources to make this camp happen in my region yet but the G13s who ran this camp assure me that I will and it will come in handy. So for right now I am taking a deep breath and just waiting.  Here are a few pictures from the camp…

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    Now I am working on my own 2 week camp right here in Khashuri…I don’t know if there will be any pictures but I will for sure write a blog entry on it…Then after my camp is over…SCHOOL STARTS!

  7. Georgian Food That I Have Been Eating

    I have been getting a lot of questions about what I have been eating in The Republic of Georgia so….This entry will be show some of the food that I have eaten in Sakartvelo.

    One of my favorite dishes that I can’t get enough of is Khinkali and these are popular among all the volunteers.  They are Georgian’s version of the dumpling and usually are filled with meat but you can find them filled with cheese, mushrooms or potato as well. Khinkali are boiled but you can also boil it and then fry the outside of them to make it crispy, I just tried them this way recently and they are delicious! You usually just put pepper on the Khinkali before eating them

    P.S. I know how to make them now too :)

    Another food that I eat a lot of is khachapuri and Lobiani.  Now these two foods are very similar. They are like a quesadilla but using georgian bread. Khatchapuri is a quesadilla but using the Georgian salty cheese and Georgian bread and Lobiani is breans between the Georgian Bread. Both are very good.

    One food that I love and can’t get enough of is Badijani. It is eggplant stuffed with a walnut paste and sometimes has pomegranate seeds on top.  IT IS HEAVENLY!

    Here is a interesting one that I have never encountered before..I have only had it once so far but it is a good snack. Usually sold as a street food and sort of like the Georgian Snickers, Churchkela is a string of walnuts that have been dipped in the grape juice and flour and then dried.  It is very good and I hope to have more soon.

    Also with the Grape Juice and Flour mixture, you can make a classic Georgian dessert which just hardens into a shape and consistency similar to something between Jello and Pudding. I had this a lot during the first few months I was in Georgia.

    Well that is just a taste of what I have been eating here in Georgian so I plan to more Food entries soon. Since PST ended, I don’t have everything I have posted here everyday. I have a lot of bread, potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes but these are some of the authentic Georgian Cuisine that I have tasted and it is all excellent.

    I promise I will do more food entries because there is many, many different Georgian foods..Some that I have not even tried yet myself!

  8. Catch-up and Remembering PST

    Well as I am now an sworn-in Peace Corps Volunteer, I realized that I did not write about some the events that went on during my PST because I was busy. I have so many pictures that I want to share so I had to pick and choose what events I wanted to share.  I can’t believe I took almost 700 photos in the last 3 months.Before I mention the events,  I just have to say one thing I miss about Tezeri (my home during PS) is all of the flowers:

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    Good thing I only live so close to Tezeri so I can visit again!

    Here are some of the wonderful events that happened in the last month or month and a half of PST:

    1)A whole bunch of the volunteers hiked up to a lake just outside of Khashuri.  It took about 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours to get there.  It was very hot so it was a god-send to see the beautiful lake!  It was well worth the hike and it was great just hanging by the lake and hanging with my fellow volunteers.

    The View of Khashuri about half way up the Hike

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    The View was just Incredible!

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    The beautiful lake that I can hike to a lot since I now still live in Khashuri :)

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    A bridge we had to cross to get to the trail, Again can’t get enough of the beauty of this country

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    2) I got to visit some of the trainees in their town they were living in called Surami.  Surami is famous for having a castle in the middle of the town.  I got to go for the weekend and it was one of the best weekends I had during PST…shout out to Kala and Tom for showing me around Surami :) Surami is also only about 5 mins from where I live now so I plan on visiting again as well and taking some people who have not been there to see its beauty.

    The incredible Castle I walked around in

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    Close-up of the castle wall

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    WE EVEN MADE QUESADILLAS WHICH WERE OUT OF THIS WORLD! thanks tom!

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    3)There was the Megobari (Megobari means friend in Georgian) Picnic which was also held in Surami.  It was an event for all of us new volunteers were able to meet the current volunteers.  It was a neat event and I got to meet and hang with a lot of cool people. We talked, took pictures, played some soccer and got to be in a beautiful park.

    Here is my Megobari, Anastasia..  She is a great person and I miss her a lot because she has since COSed.  I really enjoyed getting to know her

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    4)4th of July Event: Peace Corps celebrates Fourth of July in style.  I have to say this past 4th of July was probably the best I have ever had.  There were balloons, Georgian version of Hamburgers and Hotdogs (EVEN PRINGLES WHICH YOU GUYS KNOW I LOVE!) , Games like Tug War and 3 legged Race and FACE PAINTING! I was in charge of face painting and I have to say by the end of the event, probably everyone at the event had something painted by me on them and there were a lot of people.

    Me during the 4th of July Event:

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    One of my many creations in face painting…I think it really encompasses Peace Corps in Georgia

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    My entire Tezeri Family Georgians and Americans together :)

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    4)  The Farewell dinner was great too because it was night before Swearing-in and it was our last time to hang with our clusters and fellow trainees before we went off to out permanent sites.  It was held in a restaurant where we had great food and great entertainment in terms of a talent show :) It was a great time.

    Our Farewell Cake

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    Tezeri and Kvishketi Cluster at Farewell Dinner with our wonderful Kartuli (Georgian) teachers  I will miss these people terribly :)

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    These events are all high lights of my PST but I think the best thing about PST is the 4 people that I spent the most time with.  I don’t think I could have gotten through PST without them and I can see them being life long friends.  Thanks you guys for being there for me and I miss you already…Heres to the next 2 years we have together and the many adventures we will have

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  9. Swearing-in Ceremony

    Well I know it had been a very long time since I have posted something…My laptop has broken and I have yet to figure out how to fix it.  So I am behind on posting everything but I wanted to write a post on the momentous event that happened yesterday!

    I WAS OFFICIALLY SWORN IN AS A PEACE CORPS VOLUNTEER IN THE REPUBLIC OF GEORGIA!

    Here is the best picture I have :)

    I am so proud to now officially call myself a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia and I can’t wait to see what I accomplish in the next two years.

  10. Mtskheta, Georgia

    So this was a few weeks back but we got a chance to visit another part of Georgia. I went with a group of Volunteers to Mtskheta, Georgia.  It is right outside of Tbilisi and is actually the old capital of Georgia.  Mtsketa has some of the most famous churches in Georgia and tourists from all over the world come to this town to see the sites.  When we were there, we ran into some British and German tourists.

    Mtskheta is one of the oldest cities in Georgia so it has some very old sites to see.

    This is an old wall that is built around one of the HUGE cathedrals in Mtsketa…it was very impressive to walk around a corner and come across this.

    One of the biggest attractions in Georgia is Jvari Monastery.  It overlooks all of Mtskheta on a very high mountain where you can take a taxi too to see or take a long walk up the mountain to see.  To Georgians it is one of the holiest places in Georgia.  It was built in the location where a king built a cross when he converted to Christianity…the church was built in the cross’s place around the 6th century.

    The view from Jvari Monastery was SPECTACULAR! it was just breathtaking, I could not stop looking at it.  You can see Jvari Monastery on its mountain from every angle when you are in Mtskheta….always keeping watch over the town.

    One of the best things I saw in Mtsketa was Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.  It was just breathtaking inside and out.  I JUST LOVED IT! Not to self and others who want to see this Cathedral and most churches in Georgia, you must wear a long skirt (if you are a woman) if you want to enter the cathedral.

    Outside View of the Cathedral

    This Cathedral was built near the 11th century.  Legend says that Christ’s robes from his crucification are buried under the church because someone brought them from his crucification, gave them to his sister who died immediately and had the robes buried with her.  The cathedral is beautiful and many people come to the cathedral every day to see it.

    The inside of this church is ornate with lots of wall paintings and ornaments to look at.  This is the picture of the front of the sanctuary.

    Picture of one of the walls of the Sanctuary in the Cathedral

    The last thing we saw in Mtsketa was the ruins of an old fortress overlooking the town.  It took a bit to walk too but it had nice views and it was nice to hang out among the ruins.

    View from inside the ruins

    It was a nice day and I just love this town….it was nice to have a Day to relax and see Georgia :) I am definitely going back again.

    Here is one of my favorite pictures I took that day and reminds me a lot of spring here in Georgia