Thursday, December 2, 2010

Even without knowing much Georgian, some things I understand.

Every day at school all the teachers gather in the teacher's room before school and between each class. On one side of the room there is one large table with about 20 chairs around it where most of the teachers sit and on the other side is a small desk where the head of the school sits doing.....whatever it is he does! Every morning when I enter the room, everyone greets me - some with a "hello," others with a "good morning," and the rest with a kind "gamarjobat." We can ask how each other is doing, but right now that is where my Georgian runs out. (I want to learn something new to say or ask each day, but I'm still working on getting names down - I know about 75% of them so far...) If neither Lika (I just found out today her name is spelled with a "k" not a "g") nor Tea are in the room, I can't talk to everyone. But today, there was a conversation going on that I didn't need the words to know what was happening. One of the teachers (Nino) was trying to explain something to the head of the school. I don't know exactly what they were talking about, but she was getting frustrated that he did not understand what she was saying. She kept repeating something, and soon resorted to writing out something to help him see - then he pointed at what she wrote and said something that sounded very matter-of-fact. She got flustered and reiterated what she had just explained, to which he seemed to reply the same way. He wasn't understanding what she was saying, and Nino got more and more frustrated. Another teacher picked up Nino's argument, and (I can only assume) restated her words another way - more explanation followed from Nino - and I saw the moment when he finally understood what Nino was trying to tell him! His eyes lit up - he pointed at what Nino had written, said something, and everyone collectively nodded with long, slow nods and exclamations of "Ki! Ki!" ("yes"). I realized that there are some things that transcend language. 

That conversation happened this morning during the first class (which I had off), and throughout the day I noted other things that, although I could not understand the words being said, I understood the meaning of what was happening. 

Two second-graders ran into each other in the hall and smacked heads (pretty hard!). The little girl was okay, but the little boy started to cry. Their teacher took the little boy aside, looked at his banged-up forehead, and consoled him. In any language, that conversation is the same!

The laughter of teenagers - giggling, actually - when one of them tries to say something that doesn't come out right - the sheepish grin on the face of the one who made the blunder - it's universal.

Leban and Elene were playing in the main room while Tea and I talked in the kitchen over tea. The tone and the rhythm of their playing was pleasant until one crucial moment. I don't know who did what to whom, but suddenly they were fighting as only siblings can! And Tea's scolding that followed didn't need a translation!

The kitten at my house plays the same kitten-games that every kitten I've ever had plays. 

And the smiles on all the faces of my students say more than any words ever could!

The language of love and care is a universal language. Laughter, smiles, a hug, a squeeze, or a kiss are the same no matter where you go. Even when words are not understood, actions can be. I pray that my actions speak the language of care and love to everyone I meet!

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