As a part of American Days – a Festival of American Culture in Georgia, the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, Georgia, has invited our 2012 VSA Young Soloist Competition winner and jazz pianist, Justin Kauflin, to perform and conduct workshops throughout the country April 23-30, 2014. (For those of you wondering where Georgia is located, we’ll save you a Google Maps search and tell you it’s bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the south by Turkey and Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan.)
Justin usually travels with his service dog, Candy. Due to international travel logistics and the possibility of Candy being placed in quarantine, Justin and Candy talked it over and decided it might be best for her to stay behind this time around.
As Justin prepares for the trip and Candy prepares to stay home, the Office of VSA and Accessibility at the Kennedy Center decided to sit down one-on-one with Candy to discuss her feelings about Justin’s upcoming trip:
VSA: So, Candy, tell us, what do you plan to do with all of your free time while Justin is out of the country?
Candy: Lounging, lounging, lounging! It’ll be great to be able to sleep on his bed without him kicking me off. I especially like his pillows. Other than that, I’ll enjoy exploring the backyard and playing tug of war with the family.
VSA: We know that you really wanted to go to Georgia with Justin. What made you comfortable with the decision to stay home?
Candy: I decided that Lisa Damico from the Office of VSA and Accessibility could go in my place, as long as she promised to bring along a cutout of me to take photos with during their adventures in Georgia. I have a reputation to uphold on Instagram!
Also, I’ve been reading the Lonely Planet guide on Georgia and have come up with the top four things Justin needs to do on his trip:
- Listen to some sagalobeli (beautiful choral chanting for which Georgia is famous)
- Take part in a supra (Georgian feast) with a toast. Extra points if a toast is dedicated to me. Also make sure it’s wine, not beer, because Georgians toast their enemies with beer!
- Eat khachapuri (cheese pies, Georgia’s most common dish)
- Use some lari (Georgian currency) to buy me something nice
VSA: That sounds like a fun list of things to accomplish! Tell us, what will you miss most about Justin?
Candy: Well, he does feed me… But I know he’ll make sure someone fills my bowl. It will also be a lot quieter in the house, which I won’t mind at all.
VSA: Candy, thank you so much for sitting down with us for this chat. We wish you the best in the next couple of weeks. We look forward to many updates and to seeing your cutout traveling all over Georgia!
Obligatory Disclaimer: We promise that no animals were hurt during the making of this blog! Candy the Dog was paid generously with milk bones and belly rubs, and granted us permission via paw signature to use her photo likeness.