Monday, February 14, 2011

Gender Politics and School Absences

I have been teaching for one week and one day. Which means that my host brother has missed half of his classes for the past week and one day. Every day, when I'm done with classes Sandro finds me and walks me home. The past couple of times he's had to chase me down just to walk me the rest of the way. Now, I found it nice the first couple of days. I didn't really know the way very well, there were quite a few turns in the road. But, trust me, I have a very good sense of direction (I was able to give directions to people visiting Telavi, despite the fact that I hadn't been here in a year and a half), I know the way home now. And it isn't that far- it's approximately 3 Lady Gaga songs away!

However, I'm not surprised by my daily escort home. During our cultural training the first week we were here, we were reminded that the families would be extra cautious regarding the safety of the girls. It's a "cultural thing." And although I know it's a "cultural thing," it doesn't mean I have to like it. Yeah, I'm a woman, but I don't want to take an hour-long stroll through the ghetto at midnight. It's a ten minute walk in a nice, quiet neighborhood in Telavi at noon. And the fact is, I'm a teacher. It looks kind of bad if I'm the reason a student continues to miss classes!

Over time I'm sure they'll realize that it's not necessary for me to be accompanied everywhere. And I'm sure that Sandro has loved having an excuse to leave school an hour or two early everyday. However, the sooner it stops the sooner I will be happy.

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