From the Appalachians to the Caucases

I’m so excited for my dad. He’s going to Armenia and Georgia!

A year or so ago, representatives from Armenian municipal governments did a tour of US micropolitan areas (those with a population of about 50K of less) to see how they run their shows, and they hit it off with my uncle, the city manager in a medium-sized city in WV. To make a long story short, my uncle was just invited to be part of a contingent of US representatives to go over Armenia for a couple of weeks this summer and consult with them on their goverment and urban development processes.

A word about my uncle: The Armenians who came here rather enjoyed my uncle. In fact, just about everybody loves my uncle. It’s hard not to. He’s always quick with generosity and self-depricating humor. And when you put him and my dad together, they are endless entertainment for each other and everyone around them, bouncing jokes off of each other and swapping stories. They are a ton of fun. My dad is a retired marketing executive (or as he puts it “professional paper shuffler and bullshit artist”). And it’s a big deal for my uncle to get this kind of opportunity. He has never been out of the country, as far as I know. So, he asked my dad to come along as a consultant on business development stuff. Yes, the Hillbilly Smothers Brothers are taking their show on the road.

As a side note, my dad and his siblings grew up in a coal mining camp in West Virginia–true hillbillies–and my uncle is very much a hometown guy. Certainly not a world traveler. And certainly not travel to a developing nation. So, my dad is joking that it’s perfect that, when two hillbillies go on vacation together, they skip Paris and London and go find some other hillbillies to hang out with half way across the world.

They’ll go in June. My dad and I talked travel last night. I might help him put together something on the potential that the internet offers to microbusinesses and just generally give him pointers on how to travel in really foreign countries.

I’m so envious. There’s no better way to get to know a place and its people than getting that kind of insider tour.

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