Finally, I can divulge my plans for 2013. I say that with joy, but also the tiniest pinch of reservation, because things can change a lot over the course of a couple weeks. After waiting so long and working so hard to reach this point, I almost won’t believe it is real until I’m on the airplane heading to my new home.
And I am happy to say that that new home will be Tbilisi, Georgia.
The story of how it came to be this particular city would bore you. I didn’t exactly choose Tbilisi, but I was nonetheless thrilled when the option was presented to me. My focus was, and is, on the work that brings me there, rather than the destination itself. I will be working in microfinance, and I have never been so excited to start a job before.
For those who don’t know much about The Republic of Georgia, don’t feel bad; I don’t either. Over the past couple of months, I’ve been listening to Georgian music, reading books on Georgian history and culture, and ogling Georgian script. I half expect those squiggly characters to swivel themselves off the page and start dancing around.
So, here is a crash course of basic facts about Georgia (for your benefit and mine):
- Georgia is bordered by the Black Sea, Russia, Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan
- Population: approximately 4.5 million
- Language: Georgian (though many also speak Russian)
- Georgia’s current President (until elections in October, 2013) is Mikheil Saakashvili. The Prime Minister (elected in October, 2012) is Bidzina Ivanishvili.
- Georgia became part of the Soviet Union in 1921, and remained so until declaring independence in 1991. Joseph Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union until his death in 1953, was an ethnic Georgian.
- After political unrest and economic crises throughout the 1990s, the Rose Revolution took place in 2003.
- In 2008, the five-day Russo-Georgian War broke out, largely over the disputed territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
- Georgia is known for delicious (waist-expanding) cuisine, good wine, and warm hospitality. I’ll be happy.
- American visitors can stay in Georgia without a visa for 360 days. So come visit me!
This move feels more momentous than the trip to Peru that kick-started my year of volunteer work, mostly because the stakes are higher. Yes, I am thrilled to explore a new city, make new friends, and learn a new language. But this is also my opportunity to move the trajectory of my career into a field that I am passionate about, and I’m prepared to work my little American butt off to make sure that happens.
T-minus two weeks and counting.