Friday, April 1, 2011

Two Worlds, One Georgia

When I first started studying international development my focus was on places like India and Uganda where the poverty is extreme to the visual eye. People are living on the streets, wearing rags to school, and fighting for survival everyday. 

Kids at my school playing football with a empty bottle
I knew that coming to teach English in Georgia was going to be quite a different experience. Yes, there are people that have little money. Yes, there are plenty of abandoned buildings. Yes, we lose power and can't drink the water in certain cities. But even with all of that, Georgia is nowhere near the underdevelopment that many countries face. 

 Georgia appears to have a it all together. People live in beautiful homes, drive nice cars, and have the newest cell phones. This isn't just in Tbilisi, but also in my town of Samtredia. So for an outsider it seem like Georgia has it all together, but in reality many of those big homes only have heating in one or two rooms, and there are more people that don't have cars than do. 

New v.s. Old
Georgia is full-on Monet. To quote one of my favorite movie characters, Cher from Clueless, "It's like a painting, see? From far away, it's OK, but up close, it's a big old mess." Georgia looks like it has it all together from far away, but in reality it still has a long way to go. 

A few months ago my friends and I went to see a play at the theater in Kutaisi. From the outside the building looks beautiful, but when we stepped inside I thought the ceiling was going to crumble on my head. Georgia may have many of the ammenities of the western world, but they are in need of a lot of love. It was a strange realization for me to understand that a developing country doesn't always mean they have nothing.

Sometimes I feel like I live in two different worlds in Georgia. I have students that talk to me about Johnny Depp movies, and the latest fashion trends in Paris. Then I have students that run off and get married at the age of 17. On the streets of Samtredia, I see young women dressed in high heels, sunglasses, and expensive looking dresses, and then on the other side of the road are little grandmas hunched over, dressed in all black, who probably haven't showered in weeks. It blows my mind!
My 7th formers huddled around the heater 

Another ironic thing that happened to me one day, was when I heard John Lennon's song 'Imagine' being play on a girl's cell phone as she walked down the street.  It just shook me to my core to hear John Lennon's message of world peace and equality being blasted onto the streets of Samtredia where just a few years ago people were fleeing from war. 

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to figure out Georgia's two worlds, but I can keep enjoying living in them!


  1. communicate -

  2. Hello ,i am sorry to disturb but have to ask for a great favour .i am a student and now i am writing my thesis on topic native and non-naitve enlish speaker teachers .and if possible i would like to ask you osme quesitons aobut TLG program and send you a questionnaire .i would really appreciate it .
    best regards ,
    i am forward to heairng form you and get your help