As this is the last post about my life in Georgia, let me summarize as best I can:
Georgia is a simple but complicated country. They are mostly a self-described Western culture leaning country, but they have deep rooted traditions and habits of Asian sensibilities. They are a developing country mostly due to the double gut punch of the collapse of the Soviet Union followed by the war with Russia over the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Their infrastructure is in severe disrepair and the social systems, i.e., Education, Health Care Systems, are underfunded and lack creative progressive direction. The political direction is still rooted in nepotism and the ‘old boy’ network. The two parties that wield power seem to be more concerned with punishing the other party or dismantling everything they did for the country (even of good and prosperous) than with the welfare and improvement of the everyday Georgian. Added to that they have the ever-present threat of Russia to their immediate north.
The majority of Georgia is agriculture based and there seems to be a subconscious, self-fulfilling prophesy to stay that way, even though it currently means a life of poverty. And even though EVERY young person I spoke to HATES the outlook of their future conditions should things not change, I think that, again, the culture of tradition supersede any push to change things.
With all that said, Georgia is a country steeped in history. It’s all around you everywhere you look. So many different cultures over the ages have left a footprint on this land. For Georgia to be so small, it has a very diverse landscape. A breathtakingly, beautiful landscape.
Georgia’s culture poses a double-edged sword for them. It holds them back in making progress in such areas like gender equality and gay rights. The unequal privilege that men enjoy in Georgia is staggering to witness. It’s so ingrained in the culture it has become institutionalized. And very recently the Georgian Orthodox Church itself endorsed physically violent methods to suppress the gay community from voicing itself in a public forum.
On the other hand, Georgian traditions regarding guests and their overall outlook on community and family is endearing and demands respect. To be conquered again and again by foreign powers, but still cling to their traditions of language, food, dance, wine making, etc., is nothing short of inspiring.
I have lived in this country for a short amount of time considering. But I have come to be an advocate for its wellbeing and growth. They are a warm and generous people. A people with a difficult and harsh past but are still quick to laugh. And with the right focus and a few breaks, they can be the envy of the world community.
There are no words to fully express the excellent opportunity I have had to experience this great country. I highly recommend that everyone come to Georgia anyway they can.
Until next time, Georgia….
It was really nice to meet you, goodbye
It’s high time I quit wondering why
‘Cause I have lost all that I can from my side
And when you think of me again, no
I tried, I tried, goodbye
Goodbye, Greg Laswell