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Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Bad Things in Georgia

I feel like my time is slowly looming to an end here in Georgia, but I am happy to say that I am excited about coming home. A month into Georgia, there is no way I would have left willingly; however, I really feel that I have gotten almost as much as I can here, or, at least, everything I wanted. I am and have always been incredibly positive about Georgia, and my sentiments have not changed. I plan on returning here one day with friends to show them the power of Georgian passion. I would like to document, however, the things that really bug me, and I the reader should find them interesting as well.

First of all, laziness is rampant among Georgians. The men on my street play board games 10 hours a day, 7 days a week and it drives me crazy. Now, some of them are a tad bit older, so I can rationalize that, but a lot of the men are 20-40. In a country that is trying to become modern, to better itself, to present itself as a first world, so many of its people do absolutely nothing. To be honest, inherent laziness is something I abhor anywhere I am, hence my conservatism; however, it’s an epidemic here. It is funny to hear the older people talk about how good Stalin was, because he forced individuals to contribute and the country supposedly ran quite smoothly. Believe me, I am not a Stalin fan like most of the older people here, but it is interesting to hear that take on things for sure. As a leader, Saakashvili (their controversial president), has had the daunting task of inspiring and motivating a country for years now. Although many would swear he is failing (the opposition party here calls for his resignation weekly), the city is running a hell of a lot better than it was 10 years ago. It’s interesting to be in a country with thousands of years of history but is only 20-years-old. Good luck Georgia.

The second thing that bothers me is hygiene. I know that this is no new news to you experienced travelers, but, shit it’s just gross sometimes. I have a couple funny examples that will put things into perspective and serve as microcosms of the general hygienic theory here. First is my host dad who wore the exact same outfit for 11 days. I know he didn’t physically overexert himself playing backgammon all day, but after a week, I would think one would want a change for change’s sake alone. Second, my friend Lawrence’s host mother stole a pair of his socks and has had them on for over a week now. I don’t know how she thinks she can get away with this, because Lawrence, a gay Irishman, has…colourful socks to say the least. What are they thinking man?! My third and final example is the horror of marshutka travel (the vans). Those things always smell, and the best way I can explain it is to compare it to a Subway restaurant. You can smell that thing from blocks away, and if you go in there, you will go home smelling like Subway. The marshutka has the same permeating ability and it is distressing to go home smelling like the hairy hobo that sat next to me. As painful as these experiences can be, however, sometimes it is ridiculous you can’t help but laugh. The other day a dude stepped on to the marshutka and absolutely reeked of BO and what I think was car fluids. He sat behind me which made me tear up for multiple reasons… I was pissed. Right after he got on an obese, smelly Georgian man sat down next to me and let a huge fart go. He even leaned over, pointed it in my direction and then looked at me and showed off his missing teeth as he mischievously smiled. Right after this, a Georgian that looked exactly like Ben Stiller got on the marshutka! At this point I succumbed to the ridiculous situation and now treasure it as a hilarious Georgian memory. Things are what you make of them.

The third thing that bothers me is the education system. Discipline is really poor in the classrooms, teachers don’t come up with their own lesson plans and the parents at home don’t give a shit which makes it impossible to force anything upon them. Not to toot Stalin’s horn too much, but everyone I have talked to here loved the USSR educational system, and now Georgia has this generally lackluster approach… kinda sucks. I don’t have any idea how they should go forward with their system or improve it, but I know there are serious issues. I think a lot of the laziness common among the people starts in the schools, so something must be done – perhaps my presence here is an example of such a something. Something else that bugs me is that all the kids cheat on everything: homework, tests, papers, assignments, everything. The worst part (for me anyways… ) is that they suck at it. In the States people pride themselves on being great cheaters and innovators. Even their cheating is lazy! Ugh, good luck to Georgian education.

The fourth and final thing I would like to rant about is how women are treated. I am nowhere near a feminist, I think men and women are equal. Georgia violates women’s rights constantly, and, the worst part is, everyone knows it. I will give a couple examples of the unfair shit that happens to women and I will let you be the judge of such transgressions. First, men are not faithful to their wives, and this is not only expected, but laughed about. I have met multiple married men who have girlfriends and laugh about how nice it is. Prostitutes are also really common, and I must assume there are some nasty STDs everywhere in Georgia. Anyways, this bugs the hell out of me, and I feel so sorry for the Georgian wife. Another example is bride-napping… I can’t exactly remember if I ranted about this already, but I will do a quick summary anyways. Basically the dude stuffs the girl in his car against her will, takes her to his house, likely has his way with her and then she is socially obligated to marry him because she is no longer pure (though he has been having sex with prostitutes for years now). I know of multiple individuals who have suffered such a fate, and, in every single case, it has ended in divorce. It’s absolute bullshit, and I can’t figure it out. The social ignorance involved in every aspect of bride-napping is astounding, and many people lost all respect for Georgians when they heard about this (most Georgians will refute this, and I don’t mean to offend anyone. I am just calling it like I say it {and how every other volunteer here sees it}). Anyways, I feel bad for the women here. As Georgia becomes more modern I am hoping the gender roles do as well, but we’ll see. Good luck to Georgian women.

So, those are some basic complaints I have about Georgia. Honestly, a lot of the things I dislike here can be found in all countries, including America. I guess it is human nature to suck, or at least that is what we believe as Christians. I really, really want to bring people to this country eventually, but I suspect it will be very different in a couple years because the country is very dynamic. For better or worse, they are trying to be more like the US, and, regarding gender roles and education, I hope they achieve it. I hope that everyone understands how much I love this country and how much I have grown as a person because of it, so don't take my few complaints and blow them out of proportion. I still don’t know if I really agree with this program politically because they are spending so much money on us, but whatever. I have loved being here and I know I will enjoy my last three weeks here.

In other news, I had a good week at school, an interesting weekend and I am heading out to Armenia here in 2 hours. It should be a blast, and we are only gonna spend about $100 for the 3 days trip. I might get to go see Mt. Ararat which would be the first Biblical thing I have ever seen, or at least I think so. So, I am excited about that, and I will update everyone on how the trip went and post more pictures asap.

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