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    Posted June 20, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Eye on Georgia

    Half a year, half a world away...

    Up until six months ago I wouldn’t have been able to tell you much of much about Georgia. Georgia the country, that is, as I still find myself referring to it. Aside from when one of their lugers was killed at the Winter Olympics in my home city a couple of years ago I’d scarcely heard of it… and would have been hard pressed to even pin it on a map. Since January of this year, however, I’ve been working here as a volunteer English teacher and have had the great privilege of calling this tiny nation home.

    I arrived with very little idea of what to expect. I’d done my research, sure, but I knew I wouldn’t find out until after I landed where or with whom I would actually be living. I had initially hoped to be placed in Tbilisi; a truly fascinating city with its rich history and old-world charm lingering beneath a rapidly modernizing facade. I had no such luck though (or so I thought at the time) and ended up being placed in a small, rural village out in Kakheti (the wine region of this wine region).

    It’s ended up being the greatest cultural immersion experience I could have hoped for. I’ve been living with a lively, hospitable family of 4 who now treat me as (a blonde) one of their own. They’ve taught me how to sing and dance like a local and showed me how to make every Georgian delicacy around (and then temporarily converted me from vegetariansim with them). We’re tucked in the southeast corner of the country in the midst of endless vineyards and on a clear day we have stunning view of the Caucasus from our kitchen window (so I can essentially see Russia from my house, eat your heart out Sarah Palin).

    I resolved early on to say “yes” to every invitation extended here and, as such, it’s been one big, spontaneous, wine-fueled adventure. I’ve spent the better part of my free time baking bread in clay fire-pits, washing it down with homemade Saperavi, getting caught in sheep traffic, developing a new appreciation for indoor plumbing and turning down marriage proposals from all the local women who keep offering me their sons. To say it’s been eventful would be an understatement.

    I’ve characterized this place as being like that friend you have (we’ve all got at least one) who you constantly find yourself in “is this really happening?” situations with. With their generous spirit and sense of adventure you can always count on them for a good time and you knew, as soon as you met, you’d be friends for life.

    Georgia welcomed me with open arms and it was all too easy to embrace it in return. I came here six months ago knowing virtually nothing about this place and entirely unsure of what to expect and I’m leaving feeling like I’ve found a second home... in the middle of nowhere, Georgia.

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