Republic of Georgia, Social Customs, Teaching, Village Life

Reflections on Teachers

Walking with the teachers at my school is absolutely maddening. We are always walking somewhere and the problem is they walk like junior high girls. It’s slow motion. So slow I sometimes find it hard to keep my balance. I start walking heel-to-toe, but then almost fall over because my legs cross over each other.

And I always end up walking alone. I’ve long past exhausted my small-talk inventory. And unfortunately for me they know it. So even if I start out walking next to someone, they inevitably ditch me for someone else. No companionable walking for me. I can’t blame them really.

They also insist on arriving to any event en masse. They are firm practitioners of the “safety in numbers” principle. This past weekend, we waited in a muddy alley, positioning ourselves carefully amongst the animal excrement, waiting for the final members of our party to arrive. We were right outside the person’s door, for heaven’s sake. The hostess was probably shifting from foot to foot on the other side, wondering when the heck we were going to knock. Would it be so wrong to just go inside and let the last person arrive when they arrive? Junior high girls. Seriously.

The teachers at my school also all appear to be cut from much the same cloth. There’s the short hair that varies in color from month to month: from blonde, to purple, to raven’s wing black. There’s the wardrobe: black, black, black. And there’s the purse, which has two key requirements: big and black. I’ve always felt, since day one, that my status as a teacher is in doubt because I lack a big, black purse. My purse is leather, with birds and flowers. It is not big and black. Maybe I’m not really a teacher?

My teacher status would also be clearer if I would accede to local custom and wear a long, black skirt to go with my big, black purse. I am conspicuous in a crowd. But I am proud to see other teachers wearing slacks to school. I’d like to believe I’ve effected this change.

Shoes: Boots are THE footwear for teachers, actually for women in general here. Black, of course, and the higher the heel the better. The high heel is not for comfort or fashion, it’s for street navigation. And this is a problem for me. My boots do not have much of a heel and all my pants tend to be a little on the long side. That’s the way I like them. However, in Georgia, that means that I have about 1 to 2 inches of pants that are being constantly dragged through mud, water, and other questionable substances that are the reality of village roads.

I tried to hem all my pants when I was home for Christmas, but I am finding that hemmed pants alone are not sufficient. It’s the combination of the high heels and the hemmed pants that makes the difference. Now I have one, but, alas, I still lack the other. (Alas, a lass is what I lack, anyone?) As a result, my pant legs are always a little soggy or bespattered while the teachers are almost uniformly spotless. Sigh.

Might not be cut out to be a Georgian teacher. Or a Georgian woman for that matter.


2 thoughts on “Reflections on Teachers

  1. Lyndsay Ballew says:

    I’m headed to teach in Georgia next month! I was wondering what clothes to bring. I’ve been reading that skirts are the norm for women in the rural areas. Good to know about the boots…I was thinking heels would be less practical but I can see how they would be good when its wet. Which is apparently a lot lol.

    What about shirts? I always wear tight/form fitting shirts in America.

    • Hi Lyndsay! A good general rule is that village dress is a little more conservative than at home. I can’t speak for everywhere–that’s just what I experienced. The good news is that you can wear the same shirts all the time–much less pressure to have an extensive wardrobe! 🙂

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