Through out my training it was emphasized that Georgia is an extremely male dominated country and in many regions of Georgia, females are expected to wait hand and foot on the males in their family. I have definitely seen many examples of this backwards behavior, but I have to say that I've been pleasantly surprised by the strength of the women's voice in Georgia.
Three people that I have come to know and love and would not be able to get through my day without happen to all be strong women.
Firstly, my Bebia. She is the backbone of my family. I'm not sure if my family or now I, could function without her. She wakes up before I do and goes to bed way past I do, and is seriously a powerhouse. Although some of my friends also have Bebias, she is 'The Bebia' to us all. Even at only 4'11 she is a dominating figure, and you never mess with her. She cooks all the meals, does all the laundry, cleans, irons, sews, and is overall the ultimate Georgian Bebia. She also doesn't let Alvto, my Georgian Dad, tell her what to do. She is always concerned about how I'm doing, and she has been amazing about my gluten free needs. I've probably spent the most time with her out of all the family members too. However, she will never replace my American grandmas, Mom-Mom and Granny!
Next is, Nana, the head English teacher at my school. I was really concerned at first that I would be working with an older teacher since I heard they did not like new teaching methods, and were not happy to have American teachers in Georgia. However, it has been the complete opposite with her. She was thrilled that I came to work at her school, and is so thankful to have me. She is always wants me to teach her new English words, and we are always brainstorming ways to get our kids to come to class hah. She is seriously my life line at school, and I'm not sure I would be able to get by without her since my other two English teachers I can barely hold I conversation with. She has been teaching at my school for over 40 years so we always get into deep conversations about the Soviet Union, and how those times were. Its amazing how much she has been through, and yet she is still keeps up to date with current Georgian pop singers and actresses. I know the feeling is mutual because the other day she met Michelle, and she goes 'I have three grandchildren, Nanuka, Zuka, and Tara!'
My final power woman is Sopho. Sopho is a geography teacher at my school and also happens to be Nana's daughter-in-law. She is such a friendly, out-going person and I'm so happy to have her in my life. She runs the Samtredia newspaper, and introduced me to her entire office that I enjoy visiting frequently. It amazes me how much she does and sometimes I wonder if she ever sleeps! She is a mother of two, teacher, journalist and so on. One thing that I find so refreshing about Sopho is that she is always trying to better herself. She takes English lessons twice a week, and she is always asking me to practice with her. She is also learning how to drive which is very unusual for most Georgian women. I find her passion for life to be so motivating. Even though we have big language barriers sometimes it does not stop us from talking to each other. She gives me hope for young Georgian woman out there that you can have a family, work, and dress fashionably all at once!
I'm so thankful to have met these amazing Georgian women during my time here. I would also like to say that the three Samtredia go-gos are also 'power women' in my life, and without them I do not know what I would do!