Abstract: In Georgia, people use different methods to solve problems that are familiar to us. Take a look and see what we can learn from how other cultures do things! See which way you prefer after considering both methods and think of how you may also solve similar problems!
Introduction: Think about your own family, classroom, or community. You probably see people use different ways to solve common problems. Can you think of an example? What do you do when you want to get someone’s attention? You can tap on their shoulder, call their name or maybe stand in front of them.
Think about bigger problems too. If there is a very long line at the water fountain and you are very thirsty, what can you do? You can find another water fountain, but you can also try to change the situation for everyone. For example, you could make a rule that everyone can take drinks for 5 seconds at a time or use the fountain to fill up cups for everyone. These ways make it faster to quench your thirst.
Here in Georgia, I discover new ways to solve familiar problems. Even though people all over the world encounter similar problems of how to eat, how to teach, how to bathe or how to have fun, they have different solutions. Georgia has had hundreds of years of its own history which is very different from America’s. Because of these differences, Georgians have very different ideas of how to approach a problem. Even Georgian solutions to new problems are different. As the country develops, new architecture, technology and jobs arrive from the West. However, sometimes the whole concept or tools needed don’t arrive and Georgians will improvise a new solution to a problem, or create a whole new application of technology!
The Crying Baby – an old solution for an old problem
A few months ago, my host family had a big surprise to tell me. They were adopting a little baby girl! I was so surprised because adoption is very rare here. Living with a baby has given me the opportunity to see how Georgians are raising their children. The way Georgians raise children is how they are passing on their culture and personality to create the next generation of Georgian people.
They sing her songs, hold her, and play with her, just like people all over the world do with their young babies. But Georgians do something interesting when the baby starts to cry. Maybe you can remember seeing parents soothing their children by gently rocking them and speaking soft words, or perhaps humming lightly. But Georgian parents do something very surprising! As they baby starts to cry, they add their voices, imitating the baby’s sound and bouncing the baby up and down. When the baby gets louder, so does the parent. You might think that this is a terrible way to sooth a baby, but it actually works! The baby becomes quiet or, just as often, begins to laugh. Even though this is opposite to the solution that we are used to seeing, it is just as successful.
Impatient Drivers – a new solution for a new problem
Many drivers in the big cities don’t obey the stop lights. They don’t want to wait and they try to go through an intersection before the lights have changed. As you can probably guess, this is a terrible idea. What can you do to make drivers abide by the law? A better question might be, how can you keep people from becoming impatient?
Georgians have a great solution. Every big traffic light comes with a counter. The counter tells you how many seconds there are until the light changes. So, when you are waiting at a red light, you know how much time you have to wait until the light changes. Now Georgian drivers have learned to wait for the light to change. Here’s a picture of one that I took from inside a bus. Do you think a timer would make you feel more patient about traffic lights? Do you think they would make your parents more patient?
Remembrance – a new solution for an old problem
When a Georgian person dies, their whole community mourns them. In the villages and towns, everyone knows everyone else, and so the death is felt by the entire community. In order to remember them, the community builds a grave site in the cemetery, which is usually on a hillside.
However, if you visit the cemetery, you will see something very strange. Georgians have a new tradition for remembering their dead. All the new grave markers are very large and contain a life sized etching of the deceased! Some of my native English speaking friends think it is creepy, but I enjoy being able to put a face with a name. The images are engraved with lots of tiny dots from a photograph. The images are so true that I’m certain that the stones are engraved with the help of new computer technology. Would you like to see these pictures in cemeteries too?