By Sohia from Georgia
Garmajoba (hello). My name is Sohia, but all my friends call me Sopo. I live in Kakheti in the eastern part of Georgia. I wear clothing of all colors – whatever is fashionable. White, black, and blue are popular, but not green. Normally, I wear jeans and a t-shirt or a long skirt with a tight shirt. I don’t wear short skirts or dresses because my mom won’t let me. Some of my friends do, though, so they can be trendy. Older people sometimes criticize us. They tell us to wear more conservative clothes.
I like to hang out with my friends and listen to music. Sometimes, we even sing or play the panduri or chonguri – two traditional Georgian stringed instruments. My favorite singers are Whitney Houston and Bruno Mars.
Dance is very popular in my village. I learn traditional Georgian dances, but I also like hip hop, samba, and the waltz. Every region of the country has its own traditional dance. Every region also has its own traditional clothes and colors that are worn for the dances and ceremonies. Most dances are group dances for girls and boys. The kartuli dance is just for one girl and one boy and is meant to represent marriage. However, the samaya dance is always performed by three girls.
Most of my friends want to be doctors, business women, lawyers, economists or teachers. When I grow up I want to be a policewoman, but my mom doesn’t think that working as a police officer is appropriate for a woman.
In my community, girls are expected to be shy and not as independent as boys. All girls are expected to know how to cook traditional dishes. Some people think that women should stay in the home and take care of the family. We don’t have nice gender balances. We have a common saying, “to be a good wife, you must be a good housekeeper.” Traditionally, the first child should be a boy. In an older tradition, parents decided who a girl would marry as soon as she was born. I’m glad this tradition is no longer practiced.
This personal essay was developed as part of the Girl Child Project. For the project, Peace Corps Volunteers around the world collected and shared stories of girls in their communities to celebrate their diverse paths toward opportunity and success. This project was facilitated by the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Working Group at Peace Corps Headquarters.