Yes, Georgia was occupied by the Soviet Union and since then has had mixed fortunes economically but, hard as it may be to believe, it doesn’t need saving from a recently-graduated American.This is a country that has dealt with poverty, occupation, civil war, and the health of effects of for centuries.As a country with a distinct identity, wedged between three of the largest empires in the history of the world, perhaps it ought to be you listening to Georgians about the resilience and strength in the face of adversity.
It is a common occurrence to hear American expats, both female and male, lament “those sexist Giorgis and Zazas are nothing but ugly rapists”.This is despite the amazing rates of sexual harassment and pervasive rape culture that permeates throughout American culture, with skyrocketing obesity levels a permanent issue.It would be absurd to judge someone who speaks out against sexual harassment and/or assault, but making claims that “Georgian men are just naturally sexist” is both highly disrespectful and orientalist.Sexual harassment and rape culture is a transnational issue that is highly problematic and placing the blame on national characteristics just clouds the issue.From a superficial glance, you’re going to find Lada cars throughout Georgia, apartments on the outskirts of its cities, and useless Soviet junk on the Dry Bridge of Tbilisi and think, “Wow, how Soviet! Unlike many lazily clichéd travel writers that love to begin their articles by noting the Soviet qualities of Georgia, Georgia isn’t lost in some post-Soviet abyss.
This is a country full of young, dynamic, and interesting people looking to create music, art, cinema, and other mediums of art.
Please, go listen to Gacha or არა and watch Levan Koguashvili or Nana Jorjadze as proof that this a country littered with exciting artists who aren’t lost in the past.
AS TWO DRUNKEN ROMANTICS that love our travel, we both knew the moment we came to Georgia that our lives would never be the same again. Since then, one of us has written a Master’s thesis about Georgia, while the other returns with such frequency that he is known in one village as “Blue Eyed Irish Klemens.” Naturally, we believe that the beautiful country of Georgia demands a lot more respect and attention on the world stage.
Both of us have lived in Georgia on four occasions and we have immersed ourselves in both the local and expat scenes.
Throughout these experiences, we couldn’t help but notice the rather worrying habit that American expats in the country had of being overly critical on trivial, petty reasons; we’ve surmised that this could only be a result of their delusional understanding of what they’re getting themselves involved with.
Thus, we suggest five small yet key things to consider for future American expats so that we don’t need to suffer overhearing the same story again in Canudos Bar.