We landed at 5 AM in Tbilisi, the capital of #theotherGeorgia. After eating and resting for a bit, we went for a tour of the city. Tbilisi is a multi-layered city that is built along a gorge. When traveling to the higher points of the city, you get a great view of different parts of the city. In that way, it reminds me of a smaller Istanbul. Our tour guide took us to ancient churches, old forts, and the old city walls. The city's modern architecture is a blend of Soviet and futuristic styles. But as we walked 10 miles around the city, the theme of our first day in Georgia was invasion.
Due to the strategic location of Georgia, sitting between the Black and Caspian Seas and along the ancient Silk Road, many empires have sought to conquer the land and its people. Ancient Greeks, Persians, Seljuks, Mongols, Ottoman Turks, and most recently the Russians have all controlled the area at some point. Georgia has been invaded and conquered around 30 times. You can still see the influence of many of these foreign cultures in the architecture of Tbilisi. One thing that remained consistent throughout all the conquests was the resilience of the Georgian people. They stayed committed to their Eastern Orthodox Christian religion (they converted nearly 1700 years ago) and kept their culture distinct through the preservation of their ancient language and traditions. This resilience is rooted in a great pride that can be found in the Georgian people. Not an arrogant pride or nationalism, but one of confidence, which is to be admired.
"This blog is not an official U.S. Department of State blog. The views and information presented are the grantee's own and do not represent the Teachers for Global Classrooms Program, IREX, or the U.S. Department of State."
Stephen Blan teaches US History at Fort Worth Country Day in Fort Worth, TX and is a 2015 Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellow.