Save TLG, the 100 day press conference, parliament drama, Vano subverts state, constitution, more tapes crime and surveillance, city council, Natelashvili and Targamadze exits, cop killing, Gubaz goes his own way, Chugo with BI, Javakh stuff, stolen cars, Genady & wine, TBC in Marshutka biz, new Ambos, Salome Zurabishvili worries about Chinese, Korean protest, Pink Koba, Kareli back, free Matsne! Tamar year, cheap flights, deflation lesson, Valentines events

6 thoughts on “TBLPOD7feb2013

  1. Bidzina Ivanishvili: “The questions, which Saganelidze raised, actually exist. I was surprised when 20 people were holding a rally outside my house, when I came out yesterday. I met them when I returned. They had arrived from Abasha and they did not like the person elected as a head of the regional organization of the party. None of them was a member of the Georgian Dream political party that it quite surprising isn’t it? Mr. Saganelidze recognized two persons. One of them was the head of the Abasha regional office of the Free Democrats Party, the second was the deputy head of the party and the third person was also fro the Free Democrats. The main thing is, that none of them was a member of our party. Mr. Saganelidze has a big suspicion and I share it that all this is artificially inspired by the UNM. It`s ridiculous that we have no right to elect heads within our party. I don’t see a fault of the Free Democrats in this; I think the UNM has embedded in the party its own members”

  2. I think the following details are reasonably public so I feel relatively comfortable giving them out:

    The TLG budget was cut, like many other programs. We have enough for 160 volunteers. The office staff was downsized from the mid thirties to the mid teens. The program had maybe 400 – 500 volunteers in December, so it’s a fairly significant reduction, and many people who had wanted to stay on had to be rejected (which is what’s behind the “debacle” comment, I suspect). The assessment rubric was not made public, but we were told that school directors and regional representatives had input and that only volunteers with “perfect records” were allowed to stay on. There were some complaints from volunteers who felt they were dismissed unfairly, but overall it was not as bad as it could have been.

    The good news is that as far as I know the budget is already settled for this year, including fall 2013, so barring some crazy unforseen circumstance TLG will continue for at least one more semester after this one. TLG plans to recruit new volunteers as needed to fill the 160 open slots, but may change its recruiting strategy to cut costs (for instance, the program may forgo using third-party recruiting companies). Volunteers from very far away (e.g. Australia, New Zealand) will no longer be accepted because of the cost of flights.

    There are indications that TLG volunteers are going to be required to live with host families to increase cultural interaction rather than renting their own apartments, and are also going to be required to teach in village schools. I’m not sure how aggressively this policy is being pursued, but I personally have been moved to a village school that has never worked with a native speaker before, so I think this could be a very positive change.

    Host families are getting a raise! They will now receive 200 lari per month, net, for hosting a volunteer, and TLGVs living with host families will receive 400 lari per month, net, for teaching. This is another positive change as it generally costs more than 100 lari per month for a family to host a volunteer.

    I think there are a lot of good things to be said about the new priorities of the program – quality over quantity, more bang for the buck, and increasing focus on high-need areas and cultural integration – and so on the ground, it really seems like the new MES administration is making a good faith effort to make the program work. I’m sure it will be reevaluated next year based on the outcome of these reforms, but I think the reforms give the program a more than fair chance of continuing into 2014..

    • “The program had maybe 400 – 500 volunteers in December, so it’s a fairly significant reduction, and many people who had wanted to stay on had to be rejected (which is what’s behind the “debacle” comment, I suspect).”

      I was offered a contract extension and I turned down the offer. This is not what was behind my debacle comment.

      “The assessment rubric was not made public, but we were told that school directors and regional representatives had input and that only volunteers with “perfect records” were allowed to stay on.”

      I know of two individuals who were kicked out of host families for alcohol abuse whom were renewed. One was even kicked out of two host families for alcohol abuse. TLG was aware of why and nonetheless extended their contracts.

      It was not as bad as it could have been, but nonetheless, a variety of qualified teachers were not offered contract extensions in lieu of some who are highly unqualified. This is the biggest problem that I have observed.

      Furthermore, plane tickets, as always, were given at the last minute, and in conjunction to this, many coming upon their time of leaving were unaware of their contract situation. This presented a variety of problems for those who wanted to know if they should pack their bags entirely or bring what they needed home. Imagine trying to get from Khulo to Tbilisi in 72 hours after finding out that you have no contract and that your plane flies in 72 hours. (Not my situation for the record, but rather a friend’s).

      Finally, the position of those who had already been approved for contract renewal before the elections left those people without a fair amount of time to look for work and accommodation when their contract was not renewed after being told that it would be renewed.

      It is also worth noting(as petty as it surely sounds 🙂 ) that they had six obvious grammar mistakes inside of the letters of recommendation. This, in conjunction with it being a form letter, makes the letter more than useless.

      The TLG renewal process was a debacle.

      On a positive note, I think that moving people from the cities to the villages is excellent. Villages need a great deal more help with English education, and I have consistently been told that teachers and students are eager for the help of TLG teachers in the villages.

      Also, I think that the host family’s raise is excellent except for the fact that the means through which it is done leaves the TLGs from America with a higher tax liability. Nonetheless, it is excellent. 100 GEL was simply not enough especially during the winter.

      It is great that they are not buying plane tickets that are so expensive, but maybe they should start buying them from budget air websites instead of through their travel agent, which receives a hefty fee and buys expensive tickets. (My one way ticket to the United States, which TLG bought, was 872 Euros. My one way return ticket, which I purchased was about 900USD. I could have purchased one going through Moscow for 750USD)

      Overall, I think that TLG is a great program, and am happy that it seems to be continuing. Despite this, it is a very simple fact that contract renewal needs to be a more professional process, and communication with volunteers needs to be done in a more timely and accurate manner. Simply, this did not happen.

  3. Dear Podsters,
    Since you obviously have not succeed in capturing Mr Dunbar you could at least discuss “How to Finish a Revolution: Civil Society and Democracy in Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine” by Orysia Lutsevych to honour his memory. One of the topic is “Many large Western donors, who invest substantial resources in strengthening civil society, often support NGOs patronage networks and sustain a gap between a few well-established groups and active citizens.” It can be downloaded from Chatham House:


  4. You know, I sure hope the TLG played the, you know, TBL podcast for their students. They sure would learn how real Americans speak, you know.

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