We Need to Expose Ourselves to the World

Lela Iosava

Chilly Maine weather welcomed a 19-year-old intimidated and uptight girl from far away Georgia… My pretty wicked buddy never gave me a chance to enjoy the charming seaside of the Atlantic ocean, however I used to go down to waterfall to watch the fishermen, the kayakers and renew my down-in-the-dumps mind simply by hanging out under the blue, blue sky with green waves and white, elusive seagulls, swaying ships and boats and raindrops over the bays. Or just explore the palette-brushed landscapes of New England coast.

I assume, I was one of the luckiest among 18 Georgian fellows who were able to successfully complete the exchange program sponsored by the US Department of State. I have to confess that all of us had imagined the whole America just the way they present it in the movies – New York City hectic and exciting life, Chicago or Boston. Most of the foreigners do so, before they get the luck to chill in this country and then they discover a totally different image of this Superstate. Well, it’s also easy to get burned out if you are not really flexible to overcome the culture shock, or to use the approximate slang meaning-bury the hatchet. But anyway, it is fun to be even an ephemeral part of this “melting pot” - as Americans call their country.

On e typical Georgian aspect that would always permeat my ego, was my national pride and consciousness. I would get so excited when someone asked me to tell something about my country and I would talk about it for an hour or so and then I would see and hear the expressions and words of surprise meaning the audience have accepted the veracity of all information gained, no matter how unbelievable.

Another fun thing relative to me was my “strange  Georgian Accent” – as some of the newly-made acquaintances baptized it since they thought I was from the State of Georgia, down South (Well, I definitely don’t have an African American accent). I suppose they still never made it where the Caucasia and the Republic of Georgia was (I strictly avoided to mention Russia!).

Identifying the character of such a huge, multicultural, multilingual and therefore, multiangular country is definitely a big deal. Throughout my being there, I got a perfect opportunity to meet at least 15 nationalities of the World. We say – humans are all alike, but just talk to a Japanese, American, Palestinian, Mexican, Italian, French, Russian and you’ll end up discovering so many exciting, queer features within their characters. Well, there are no ethnic priorities, and no discrimination – they say. However, when I talked to some Americans about the racism, they admitted with the sombre expression – “Still, there is a discrimination, but only in some parts of the country.” Why go far? In Washington D.C. – 4H Center, where IREX Staff and Fellows stayed for orientations, we got to meet some African Americans. As we were dining in a common cafeteria, they sat apart, although too noisy. This would make some of the guys freaked out.

Still my state was the most quiet, the most welcoming and the most tolerant I guess. Although not really famous one, “the Pine State”, “the lobster State” enchanted me firstly with its myriad colors comprising the decorum of Maine. Most of you probably have never heard about this state, but you should know that an outstanding American poet – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was from Portland, Maine. His house was right next to my dormitory in Portland and I passed by this historical edifice almost three times a day. I was striked how the American people come to realize the importance of their treasure, how they popularize their culture,- although derivative of the world culture.

Don’t you think we could do better? I would wish and welcome those who will have foreigners acknowledge at least a part of Georgian cultural heritage. We need to expose ourselves to the world not only through two of our political leaders, but through our Literature. Art, Culture wouldn’t you say so?!