Children in Bloom

Picture this scene: I am sitting in a courtyard in a former Soviet state. With me is a woman – smart, beautiful, young, ambitious, American-educated. She sips her Red Mocha Latte as I pontificate about the sad state of sex education in American schools. She wants to do something amazing for her people and her country, but she does not yet know what. I want to help her, but I warn her that progress is often two steps forward and one step back. We put our heads together, kick around ideas, and when we talk anything at all seems possible. Inside the cafe, a reporter I have befriended interviews a girl who crossed the ocean to teach English to schoolchildren in Georgia for an article that I hope will bring the issue of sexual harassment the attention and acknowledgment that it deserves. As we talk, friends and acquaintances come and go, and I look up at the sky and a rush of euphoria comes over me, and I think, this is what it means to be young and idealistic in an old and traditional culture. This is what the founders of the world’s great social movements – and thousands of others who were never more than dreamers – must have felt like: open sky, limitless possibilities, a sense of camaraderie and unity in the face of an enormous and daunting task. I think to myself: I could do something here. My life could be really important here. And for the first time ever, I feel like I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

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23 Responses to Children in Bloom

  1. pasumonok says:

    hate to disappoint u, but there’s really not that much that u can do. or let me put it this way, u won’t be able to see it or measure it. i’ve heard many peace corps say the same stuff in the beginning and then feeling desperate. but i’ve also seen things getting better years after they’ve left. and they will have no way of knowing that something has changed.
    so, please don’t expect too much or u’ll get hurt.
    sorry 4 being negative. i am actually pretty positive in person πŸ™‚
    on an unrelated note, i am in this “intellectual” game thingy called “what , when where”. it also has a tv show, where viewers send questions and teams of 6 people try to answer them. one of the questions was based on what English teacher Marrissa wrote on her blog! u guys are getting popular! people read ur blogs!

    • panoptical says:

      Thanks for the vote of confidence πŸ˜‰

      I’ve studied both the civil rights movement and the feminist movement in America in great detail. I’m aware that change in these sorts of things is a long and slow process. Fortunately in Georgia’s case, change is already occurring, there’s global precedent, there are hundreds of foreigners here exchanging cultural awareness and values, and there’s great media and internet penetration. I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly things heat up with all the TLG volunteers here, and I just want to help channel some of that energy towards positive change rather than letting it fizzle out.

      • Rindi says:

        The change might not be very apparent now, but it sure is taking place! I believe many kids you guys teach will set better ideals and goals for themselves and will actually try to pursue them (as opposed to becoming a glorious heavy-drinking Tamada in rural Kakheti or Samegrelo)

  2. ---> says:

    Exactly my feelings about… 19 years ago when I and other gays and gals of my ago were setting up first independent Georgian daily newspaper.

    After several years and already living in different country I’ve released that for a change several, dozens or several hundred people are not enough, there is an expression in Georgian that tweets of a single swallow won’t bring spring.

    Said all above does not mean that I’m pessimistic. Quite the contrary – I’m much more optimist in life than 15 years ago.

    But for this set of mind I had to go thru three immigrations and had to see on my own example that I can accomplish something and can change someone else’ life for better.

    So… I’m really glad that you have that feeling, but I’d like to suggest to re-evaluate and set correct goals and expectations for yourself, people around you and the whole society in general. Then you can avoid bitter disappointment.

    Good luck once again. Count me (and others too) in your team and let us know what kind of help you will need.

    • panoptical says:

      “Set correct goals and expectations” – I don’t really understand this, is it some Georgian philosophical concept?

      But seriously, orienting your life around “avoiding disappointment” is the surest way to be disappointed with your life.

      And thanks for the offer of help πŸ™‚

      • ---> says:

        >is it some Georgian philosophical concept?

        β€œLord grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

        I’m sure you’ve heard that before.

      • ---> says:

        Neil, I just wanted to say that American concept ‘Anything is possible’ is not quite applicable outside of American soil and (ofter not applicable in States either, but it is subject of another conversation).

        When I was a school boy and one day got home from the school quite severally beaten by my classmates my mother asked me – ‘did you fight just because for fight or you did it to win the fight’?

        Then she said – ‘if you are going to fight on public in front of everyone pick up the one which you are going to win’.

        Looking back after all these years… quite an advice I can tell.

        • A says:

          Dear —->,
          As an American, I would like to tell you that “Anything is possible” is not a familiar concept to me. I cannot speak on behalf of all Americans (in face no one can, as we are such a diverse nation), but I do not see many people sharing the belief that anything is possible. In fact, I think that it’s the concept that people from other countries who were going to America back in the old day used to believe. Kind of like Fievel and the Mousekewitz family believed that “there are no cats in America” and “the streets are lined with cheese”. . .
          Sadly, when they arrived they found out that it wasn’t true, and America was not all it was cut out to be : /

        • ---> says:

          I’m pretty much sure that you’ve being told starting from the Elementary school that ‘America is land of opportunity’, ‘sky is limit’ and one can accomplish anything in America if he or she is persistent enough and hard working. Is not it?

          Because it (the statement(s) above) IS still told from TV screens and airwaves on daily bases. And there is significant amount of people who believes in it. Especially high this belief is among those who try to get inside the country using all means… According to polls, in the state where I live >40% families speak other then English at home.

        • A says:

          No.
          Maybe they told You that when you were in elementary school. . .

        • ---> says:

          In my elementary school I was told about Lenin and Bolshevik revolution… and it was >30 years ago…

        • Connie says:

          Hey “A”:
          I’m an American and I was told regularily as a child that Anything is possible, You make your own luck, hard work will get results and virtue is it’s own reward.
          It’s my belief-and I think a very American one-that one creates one’s own reality to a large degree. If you do not believe in opportunity, you will not find it, because even if it’s right there staring you in the face, your mindset will prevent you from seeing it.
          We all have our own filters (rose colored or otherwise). I have mine too, and I chose mine to be positive because I believe (and have seen) that this brings me better results than negativity.

          You don’t see many people sharing the belief that anything’s possible? Maybe it’s time to get some new friends.

          After all- we become most like the 5 people we spend the most time with.

          So lemme ask you, in Dr. Phils’ immortal words about your attitude-“how’s that working for you?!?”

  3. Neal's sister says:

    That post was fantastic, and I am so happy to read that my brother is happy. You sound like a young revolutionary of some sort and I feel a little bit like I’m reading a book that someone had written hundreds of years ago.
    It must be an amazing feeling to have a sight of something you can do to help rather than the sense of hopelessness that often encompasses My American life when I think about the problems of society. Go You!
    However, I am commenting before reading anybody Else’s comments to say that I am going to become extremely aggravated if I see anybody criticizing This post, telling you to stop insulting Georgia, or complaining that you can’t get laid, or something equally as ridiculous. . . however I suppose there’s not much I can do if there IS a comment like that somewhere up there. . . sooo, as I take a deep breath and try to smile, here goes! : )

    P.S. What’s with all the smiley faces Georgians use in their comments?? They seem so inappropriately placed sometimes. . .
    (eep, hope that wasn’t too insulting)

  4. pasumonok says:

    i agree with the reader. i think that in such a collectivist society, one person can’t change much…unless that person has limitless power. that can’t be right though, we can’t be depending on one man’s decisions. what if he’s wrong? u know who i’m talking about.
    i’m not saying change is not possible. i’m not even saying that u “should set realistic goals”. what the hell is realistic goals? whatever happened to “shoot for the stars…land on the moon” crap? i just want u 2 be ready 4 disappointment.
    i swear, there is one guy, a peace corp, jonathan…he’s still a legend for some of us. he’s been gone 4 maybe 5 years now. but the change he brought wasn’t anything bigger than life. i just happen 2 remember him.
    so, if many people make many small changes, overall we will progress (or regress, but at least we will move). i don’t believe in global changes made by individuals, here, in my country.
    i showered u in comments, sorry. i have a viral infection, bed rest and i am home alone 4 a week. i either watch project runway or read different blogs.

  5. Georgian Guy says:

    Thank you for your courage. This is inspiring!

  6. loe says:

    always thought a massive feminism (or some relative) movement and a nice slap(or a punch) in the face would do some good for this place and people. So I’m in all supportive/positive mode. Best of luck

  7. Mike says:

    Best luck, man!

  8. Pingback: Sex in Georgia: The Anniversary | Georgia On My Mind

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