Friday, September 23, 2011

Georgia: The Legend We Help Write

I continue to admire the brains behind the TLG program, which has the stated purpose of bringing native English speakers (and more recently, French and Italian [and German?] speakers) to Georgia for the education of Georgia's schoolchildren and native-speaker practice for the Georgian teachers.

This stated purpose is brilliant, of course. But consider the side benefits. The Georgian and U.S. governments pay the volunteer teachers 600 lari per month, and this is the bang Georgia gets for its bucks:

  • The Georgian government retains more than 100 lari of same in taxes per month (that we volunteers don't even see); 
  • The host families receive 100 lari per month from the volunteers, which gets redistributed to the families' local economies; 
  • The volunteers spend most of their remaining 400 lari in Georgia; and 
  • The volunteers tell their friends and family about Georgia, creating positive buzz for the country, which helps it (and the U.S.) garner positive political street cred; and
  • The volunteers' stories encourage tourism and investment, bringing dollars and euros to this financially-strapped country.


The same dynamic applies to the excursions paid for by TLG (ahem, the Georgian and U.S. governments). We volunteer teachers get to go on all-expenses paid field trips to interesting places.

(Tomorrow, we will go to a vocational college in Kachreti, a village in Georgia's premier wine region, Kakheti.)

We take photos. We write blogs, write Facebook posts, send emails to families and friends. We help put Georgia on the map.

We are complicit in an ingenious public relations scheme where we add pages to The Legend that is Georgia.

As with all legends, there is the glory - the traditions, the food, the dance, the song, the beauty, the wine, the warrior spirit, the neighbor-for-neighbor ethic.  But glory has a constant companion: tragedies, troubled times, and the dark sides of traditions. Georgia has it all.

No comments: