Kazbegi and Meeting the Good Americans
This week has been an incredible week for cultural exchange, and for meeting people who really break the stereotypical American mould. I have met five really awesome Americans this week, and one particularly cool American who made my guests really proud of their Nationality and were so in awe of the work he was doing in his school in Kazbegi. It was a chance encounter, but he was an incredible guide and he has clearly loved his time living in Kazbegi, and had some great tales to tell about his time there. It’s a shame really, because his contract is ending and next month he will go back to America, but it really was an honour to meet him, and to see how he has enjoyed his time in Georgia. More than anything, I think he was really happy to meet some other Americans and also to show them around his village and home of the past 9 or 10 months. This was especially comforting after my experiences with so many of the American (and other) volunteers on the programme, who are drunk and rowdy and take pride in how little work they have done since they arrived. He is exactly the kind of guy that this programme was designed for, and is the perfect representative of the programme and what we should all be aspiring to.
He was also very funny, and his experiences really reminded me of my time in Vale and of village life, and I really hope he writes a book of his experiences, because he has had an amazing life and a true insight into Georgian life. Perhaps the funniest thing, which I relate to the most, is the quietness of village and rural life, and how creative you need to be to pass the time. For example, he had decided that he had nothing to do on Saturday, so he would spend the day sitting with a cow and would write a book about ‘a day in the life of a cow’! It was so funny to hear this, because cows were a big part of my life in Vale, we had two cows in my family, a mum and her calf, my host grandma would milk them, and in the morning a lady would come and collect our cows and all the other cows from the village and walk them to the nearest greenery. Then at 3pm every day, they would drop them off home, and if you were travelling by car at that time, you would always get stuck in a cow traffic jam! So, I decided that I would spend the day hanging out with the cow herders and to see what they did all day. It was not very interesting, but I got to know the cows very well! What is more funny, is that in Britain, people are not generally afraid of dogs, but are very afraid of cows, but in Georgia, people are afraid of even the smallest dogs, but have no fear in walking up to a cow and patting it!
What was especially great about meeting really nice Americans, was that the Georgians they met, were really surprised that they American, because they also had different experiences with Americans in the past, or had stereotypical expectations of what they would be like. And likewise, for the Americans in their view of Georgia and Georgians, and I really hope that in this one short week, both the Georgians and the Americans, and myself have learnt more about each others cultures and psyche, and can take those new and shared experiences into the future, to improve relations between our countries and our peoples, to dispel the stereotypical images we all have of each other, and to share our experiences with others.