GROTON – For Olivia Williams, every new social interaction begins with a bit of an explanation. The Atlanta-born social worker relocated to Groton, VT several years ago, and when people inevitably ask where she’s from, she say “Georgia.”
“It always starts with that look of acceptance, as if they think they know where I’m from,” says Williams, “but then the confusion sets in and they ask me about my accent. They tell me I don’t sound like I’m from Vermont, and of course I tell them that I’m not. I’m from Georgia. And they just stare at me and say, well, but Georgia is in Vermont. It’s the same conversation every time, and it’s getting old.”
Many Groton residents have come to accept Williams’ claim that there is another Georgia further south, although some locals admit that they are just humoring her.
“Olivia’s a nice lady,” says Carl Smith, a colleague of Williams’. “If she wants to pretend like she ain’t from Franklin County, it’s none o’ my business. So we all smile and say ‘Yes, Olivia, you’re from that other Georgia. We know.’ But come on man, I know where Georgia is. My sister lives up in Georgia Plains. And it ain’t to the south.”
Taking an activist role, Williams has asked Blue Mountain Union School to reintroduce geography to its curriculum after the subject was cut due to budget restrictions in 2008, but the school maintains that it lacks the funding currently. Williams is disappointed by the answer, but has vowed to keep fighting for the subject.
“I just don’t want my place of birth to become a three minute debate every time I meet someone new,” Williams says. Although there is a silver lining to this cloud. After Williams posted a semi-viral rant about the issue online, she met her now-fiancée, Zurab Tsintsadze, who she says understands her frustration and has bonded with her over it. Tsintsadze is a cook currently living in Ryegate, but is originally from Tbilisi.