Since my last post was a bit of a downer, you’ll be glad to know that this post is quite positive, though it’s about a group that often gets a bad rep: teenagers.
Of course it’s entirely possible, that I only know the good kids, but from my experience these are a great group of kids/mini-adults. For background, last semester I lived with a 15-year-old host sister and 17-year-old host brother, and spent a decent amount of time hanging out with them and their friends. They joined us on our trip to Davit Gareji, and it was great fun to have them there with us. I also worked in a school that was grades 1-12. Though I only taught grades 1-6, I briefly sat in on Russian class with the 8th graders, and helped the high schoolers with some extracurricular projects. The დიდი ბიჭები (didi bidjebi big boys) volunteered to carry our wheelchair-bound third grader up and down the stairs every day so he could come to English class with his classmates. This summer, I worked with a group of disadvantaged teens, and though their educations had been disrupted, they were some of the most bright and eager students I’ve worked with.
My impression is that in Georgia, teenagers are treated as adults, and they rise to the occasion and act the part. I’ve already mentioned the teenagers who offered to carry one of the little kids to class, a very thoughtful action on their part. One of my first days with my host family, my host mother (who usually looked after me) had to go to a dentist’s appointment, so my 17-year-old brother stayed home so I wouldn’t be alone, and even cooked lunch (OK, he just boiled hotdogs–but you have to start somewhere). He’s also the one who helped me bake chocolate chip cookies, even though it wasn’t his idea of fun (he seemed to enjoy it in the end). My host sister’s studying was often interrupted by silly requests from her brother, but she never whined and I rarely saw them argue. For that matter, I have rarely heard whining from the teenagers I know here. I can’t imagine most American teenagers behaving with this maturity (I’m pretty sure I didn’t). Of course, they’re probably on their best behavior when I’m around, but I’ve been impressed. Молодец ბავშვებო! (molodets bavshvebo! Good job, kids!)