Putting the HEART in Greenheart: Greenheart Travel Couples!

Putting the HEART in Greenheart: Greenheart Travel Couples!

Here at Greenheart Travel we had the idea to highlight couples that have participated in a Teaching English program together or met abroad – because we noticed that many of our participants were choosing to travel as couples, or falling in love abroad! For all of our programs we can work with couples to make placements together or near one another. Here are some stories that prove that traveling with your significant other can be life changing.

Victoria & Eric

In July of 2010, Eric had a gathering where some bands were playing at his home in Illinois. Mutual friends had introduced us, and a love for music kept us in contact. Despite the fact that neither of us were actively seeking a relationship, fate would find us together for the next three years, during which a slew of adventures brought us closer. Through music festivals, deep woods camping, and spontaneous road-trips we became compatible travel companions. Through this, we fostered a desire to travel beyond the bounds that previously held us back (i.e. national boundaries, jobs, college, etc.)

We had both known about TEFL teaching for some time, and it seemed like a great option once graduation came around. Just a few months shy of that time, we began researching – which brought us to information about Greenheart Travel’s Thailand program. From what we could tell, and from what we’ve learned in the first week of our course, a program that includes in-class courses and hands-on experience—in addition to job placement—was the best package one could hope for. Month’s later, with the essential mandolin and ukulele packed, the two of us had committed to take the leap.

If anyone had told us that we would one day find ourselves staring out the balcony of a hotel in Bangkok about to begin our greatest adventure yet, we would have been liable to laugh in their faces. Lo and behold, we are beginning our TEFL training and couldn’t be more excited to jump in and just begin teaching!

You can look forward to the music we will be making here in Thailand, as well as photos and writings on our blog: www.vroventures.tumblr.com

Lauren & Mirianlauren and mirian

I participated in the program TLG, “Teach and Learn in Georgia,” from August 2011-June 2012. It ended up being the greatest experience of my life, as I met my now husband in the village I was placed in.

After orientation in the city of Tbilisi, we, the volunteers, were told what villages we would be placed in. I was told that I would be living with a host family in the village Dvabzu. The day before we were to go to meet our new host families, I was informed that this particular family could no longer host me and that I would be placed in a different village, Nigvziani. Luckily, this turned out to be a very fortunate turn of events.

My husband Mirian lived only two houses away from where I was placed. To get to school, I would have to walk by his house. On most mornings, he would be waiting by his front gate to talk to me. I would typically ignore him. After much perseverance, he was finally able to engage me in conversation with one of the oldest tricks in the book: by holding a cute puppy to lure me in. I bought it hook, line, and sinker.

We are now married, and Mirian is living in the United States with me after a long a painful immigration process. We also had a baby girl at the end of September named Mila!

I’ll always remember Greenheart for providing me with such an amazing experience. In addition to meeting Mirian, I’ve also met some truly wonderful people and forged some incredible lifelong friendships.

I really did have the time of my life 🙂

Crystal-Day & Juliancrystal-day

Crystle-Day and Julian met one night in Tbilisi at a bar famous for debauchery and expats. They were living abroad for the first time, both were volunteering as English teachers at public schools in the Republic of Georgia.

As time went by they started chatting though Facebook and also over the phone. They talked about how they both wanted to travel more. They talked about the places we wanted to see in Georgia, as well as the places they wanted to visit farther afield. In time they arranged to go on a hiking trip to Svaneti, the remote mountainous northern region with some friends. The timing was impeccable. Not only did none of the invited friends make the trip with them, but it was also in the middle of the autumn and the region was at its most beautiful.  The steep mountain valleys climbed up through forests of orange, flaming red and brown leaves up to towering mountains with snow white peaks.  Slowly the days passed in walking through the cobble stoned alleys of Mestia with its clustered medieval keeps above. Hand-in-hand they hiked trails that meandered through blazing forests and past streams of white glacial water. At nights they huddled by the fireplaces of the local restaurants, eating the hearty local food and sipping champagne till the weariness in their legs and the cold in their bones melted away and just happiness was left. When they left they said to themselves (not wanting to jinx it) that “We would always have Mestia.” Little did they know that it was only the beginning of many, many more adventures together.

After a year in The Republic of Georgia together, Crystle-Day and Julian are still going strong! They decided to continue their adventurous travel lives and are currently assisting at Fairy Chimney Inn in Goreme, Cappadocia where they are living in a cave, surrounded by spectacular volcanic cavernous landscape. For the coming year they will be continue teaching English on the coast of the Mediterranean in the town of Izmir in the South of Turkey.

Julian and Crystle-Day felt that Georgia truly is a unique country on so many levels.  Coming from a very modern lifestyles, the two were tested daily with adaptation to a more primitive and traditional atmosphere.  Aspects of life that they normally took for granted were suddenly seen in their eyes as blessings. Water access throughout the country was always an issue. Constant power outages and long periods of black outs were frequent.  A toilet varied from a home made porter potty in a back yard, to literally a cement hole in the ground.  The couple admits that it was inspiring that the Georgia people never complained about what they didn’t have but focused on what they DID have.

As a whole, being in The Republic of Georgia was an incredibly humbling experience for both Julian and Crystle-Day.  The two of them became more patient and understanding of the world around them. They were able to adapt together when times in the villages grew tough. They were able to inherit the local Georgia trait of literally living and enjoying life as it comes; day by day.  Finally, the couple walked away after a year in Georgia, realizing that happiness in life isn’t reliant on wealth but on taking risks to obtain the experiences one truly desires in life.

Andy & Brookeandy

Andy and I met while teaching in the Republic of Georgia. It was the day after his 27th birthday and he went to Kutaisi to celebrate with friends. I was also exploring the city with my own friends that weekend. My group had got stuck in the rain and was looking for something to do when we suddenly got a call from a friend who invited us to a local restaurant where there was warm food, good company, and shelter from the rain. We gladly accepted! Upon arrival, I noticed that the only seat available was the one next to Andy. We began talking and had such a connection that he managed to convince me to stay out longer after my friends had left. We ate khinkali (traditional Georgian dumplings) and drank wine into the early hours. By the end of the night I knew I wanted to hang out with him again, so I sneakily snagged his phone number. We began talking every day and meeting up in different cities every weekend and before we knew it, we had moved in together! We had such a blast exploring the country with each other, from the stunning mountains of Svaneti to the beautiful shores of the Black Sea. He met my Georgian family and he showed me the beautiful canyon near his village. We were also lucky enough to have his sister and parents come for a visit!

I knew our relationship had made an impact on people when I was referred to by some as “Brooke” from “Brooke and Andy” at our end of the year banquet. After our contracts finished, Andy came to visit my family in America and now we are jetting off to teach English in South Korea together! I am so thankful to Greenheart Travel for giving me the opportunity to teach in Georgia. It was one of the most rewarding, challenging and unexpectedly wonderful years of my life!

Mikkela & Sidsid

Neither of us traveled abroad with the conscious pursuit of love—we solely possessed thoughts of altruism, grammar, and using Turkish toilets. Let little did we know that Tbilisi—not Batumi—was truly the city of love.

As we sit here co-authoring this blog, we begin to bicker playfully over word choice, sentence structure, and the tone of this post. Sid, the constant romantic, wishes to use language that is both flowing and impassioned, wanting to detail the happiness of our relationship and our experience in Georgia; Mikkela prefers a more prosaic tone, giggling at Sid’s flattery of her, thinking that the words he chooses are too intimate for such a large audience.

Yet this wordplay is eerily reminiscent of our orientation, during which we fell madly in love over a plate of lobio, or beans. (Can you guess who’s authoring now??) Over the course of the coming year, our friendship and love was shaped by the brilliant landscape of this majestic Caucasian republic. From the peaks of Ushguli to the beautiful shores along the Red Sea, we explored the world hand in hand. As we moved to our separate host families and found ourselves buried deep in Ajara, we still reserved time for each other through midday walks that barely got us home—for it was an hour’s trek in the mountains for each of us—before the sun set and wolves began to howl.

As our contracts came to an end and the knowledge that our lives in America were, in fact, lived in different places, a decision demanding to be made presented itself. The realistic nature of Mikkela came into play, and her fears about Sid beginning a life in a state where he had no history were voiced. However, as the crusader for love that he is, Sid persisted. When it was announced to us by our Georgian friends that the Ajaran’s had a word for us—mokchuchguli—or something that is destined, Mikkela’s fears of the unknown were quelled.

Today, we are living in Utah and enjoying our lives together. We’re not sure what’s next for us, but we do know that we miss the people, culture, and landscape of the place that we fell in love.



3 thoughts on "Putting the HEART in Greenheart: Greenheart Travel Couples!"

  1. Natalie Meyer says:

    I stumbled over these interesting entries today and am so glad I did. While my American husband and I did not meet via CCI, we did meet in my home country of Moldova. We got married in Tbilisi, Georgia. It was so pleasant to relieve those memories through these young people who wrote about their Georgian experience. We have met some of the best people when we lived there, more than 18 years ago, right after the war!

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