Dear friends! I invite you once again to join me on a journey. This travelogue will be reflective, per the requirement for my course, but will certainly be less emotional than my record of our adventures last summer in Amman.
I am tasked with looking into the actual and possible affects of globalization on Georgia. I spoke a little about this today with two young Georgians who accompanied us on our tour today. Katie (surely she has a Georgian name but this is how she introduced herself to me) assured me that many Georgians fear globalization, primarily the degradation of Georgia's unique culture. The country is small--and getting smaller (if Abkhazia has its way)--and Georgians view their culture almost as an endangered species. In answer to my question, she listed various traditions that seem threatened by the influence of the outside world, namely those having to do with the roles of and freedoms for women.
One aspect of Georgian culture that appears to be alive and well is the Georgian National Ballet which we were extremely blessed to see in rehearsal today. Seeing these amazing dancers perform in their "natural" element (i.e. workout attire) strengthened for me the connection between "regular" Georgians and their strong sense of culture. Each dance number was performed directly after each other with the non-dancers of any given number standing/stretching/practicing along the sides and joining in seamlessly when it became their turn.
The performance was astonishing! I have never seen anything quite like it and certainly never so close. We were sitting against the wall with our backs to the mirror where the audience normally would be (only many feet back in the concert hall). The dancers came within inches of us, as did their knives which they flung about and into the very floor of the studio. The performance moved me to tears and I hope I will discover a way to insert a clip into this account.
Finally, in list format, these are the other events of my first official day in the George Mason University GLOA 710 course:
-Jogging with my roommate and dear friend Kristin this morning along the nearby overgrown Hippodrome at 7:30am after a 12 (!!) hr sleep.
-Breakfast of Muesli, bread and cheese with my dear host family Thea and seven-year-old Liza.
-Public transport to the site of our course lectures (at the American Councils).
-Time consuming visits to the bank and cell phone shops so as to accommodate everyone's various money changing and cell phone needs. I bought a local phone.
-Lunch (tasty but overpriced) with our group to include: kabobs, dumplings, cheesy bread.
-A lengthy but interesting tour of Old Tbilisi's architecture. Our guide literally took us into the clothing line-strewn courtyards of quaint buildings where Georgians live! Despite the quaintness of their city, Tbilisians look more Western than Oriental. While I have not been to Ukraine in over 10 years I would judge Tbilisi to be far more Western than Zhitomr, Ukraine. The people may live in shabby soviet-era buildings but appear European in every other respect. I look forward to digging deeper and learning more about them as a people.
-Dinner at the home of our professor.
-Public transport back to our host's apartment without a local escort. We did it!