Intentional Relationship Building

During Peace Corps training, we learn about the importance of intentionally seeking and building relationships with host country nationals (Georgians in our case). As a teacher, most of the Georgians I interact with are young students. While I have been a bit overwhelmed at times with the drastically different educational culture, yesterday I did something new. I played instead of working.

You must totally re-imagine recess when you come to Georgia. Instead of playing outside for 30 minutes between a couple morning classes, students drain as much energy as they can by playing during the class breaks, which can last between five and 15 minutes. Sometimes they play in the hallway, and sometimes in the classroom, but rarely outside.

Yesterday, during the 15 minute break, I heard the fifth graders running through the hallway. I tried to concentrate on lesson planning but quickly realized that my efforts weren’t productive. I left my desk and walked into the hallway to watch the kids play. One of the 5th grade girls ran to give me a hug and when a boy approached us to tag her, I instinctively yelled, “BASE!” My limited Georgian ability allowed me to explain this new word as “a safe place,” and for the rest of the 15 minute break the students continued to use their new word.

Peace Corps also teaches us to not expect quick results. But I have to say, I appreciate the rare moments when I can bypass all the planning and the lesson just falls into place… a safe place.