18 March 2010

Blustery March and the Shift into High Gear

With generally warming but unpredictable weather, I finish my Russian study grant and move into the research phase of of the Fulbright.  There are many ideas I have to pursue and so much I could write up just now, but I feel I cannot do that until I have had my on-the-ground time in schools.  Everything up to now has been hearsay. 

And so off it goes...

This next week I will be in Akhalkalaki, Akhalsikhe, and the surrounding areas surveying the Armenian community (in Georgia) for language perception.  Hooray for traveling somewhere I've never been.

Map from http://www.nationsonline.org/oneworld/map/georgia_map2.htm

The study?  I am undertaking it with a friend and another acquaintance.  In short, what people think of someone speaking a given language based on where the speaker and listener are from and which language is being spoken.  So, what do Georgian Armenians feel about a Georgian speaking Armenian and vice versa, versus an Armenian speaking Armenian or a Georgian speaking Georgian.  I know...gripping research!  But, it does have importance when it comes to educational inclusion in language minority areas and governance.  So, it is a start on some broader themes I am interested in.

In the following weeks I will be making direct school contacts, doing interviews with aid agencies that work in education, data mining, copy-editing an archive's journal, applying for visas to Armenia and Azerbaijan, making travel plans to both those countries, and planning some domestic travel.

A big few months ahead of me, but exciting indeed.

02 March 2010

Snow? Yes, finally.

It did finally snow in Tbilisi. We had waited for so long, and a few weeks ago we were pleased to wake up to a wintery landscape. The snow has completely melted now, and the weather has turned warm, but for two weeks, we saw some snow around us. It wasn't too cold, so we took several walks around to look at it. Luckily, there are many hills and areas around us without roads, where the snow could stick and stay white.

On the first day of snow, we took a long walk up a street we had never been up before, to find an old church with some nice views of the city.  We saw some snow men, snow churches, and even a few kids throwing snowballs. The kids were not alone, however. After taking pictures of a monk ringing the midday bell, Nic looked away to take other pictures but was nearly hit by a holy snowball! The aggressor? The monk who had been ringing the bell. After he was finished, he picked up some snow and crafted a perfect ball for throwing at Nic. I think he intentionally missed, as it fell at Nic's feet. Perhaps this was the saintly (though funny) thing to do.