Archive for May, 2008

English Club

29 May, 2008

I was supposed to have my first English club this afternoon. However, tomorrow is a huge test day for most of the students so, not surprisingly, no one showed up. I do know, however, that there are some students at the agricultural school are very interested. Hopefully we’ll meet next week. I’ll be setting something up with my co-workers tomorrow.


My Bulgarian

29 May, 2008

“You tend to be off topic…but you say it really well”

Project Updates

28 May, 2008

Kindergarten English Class: I sat in on my sitemate’s class yesterday. It’s the class I’ll inherit next year. I had a blast and got to see first hand how to handle them, resonable expectations, and ideas for lessons. The class ended with coloring houses and I was given several multicolor drawings. I’ll be putting them up in my aparment. (Sadly, I have no fridge magnets). I’ll be sitting in again today.

Computer Class: I’m still the computer teacher at the school (same as the kindergarten). Tomorrow is the last day I’ll teach it until the next school year. School ends at my school this Friday.

Translation: I’ll be doing some more translation work for the At-Risk Youth Center later this week.

Student English group: After months of uncertainty, ideas and brainstorming, the student English group is a go! I’m meeting several students, ranged from 8th to 12th grade tomorrow at a cafe. I’m excited! This spurred me to arrange my co-workers English discussion. That will take place this Friday.

Day Camp: One of the PCVs in the neighboring city of Plovdiv emailed me asking if I could help her in a day camp she’s organizing. I eagerly agreed. This camp is for students from the 5th to 8th grades and will take place towards the end of next month. The camp will last for a week.

As you can see, my work is going to be picking up soon!

Your photo of the Day

28 May, 2008

My baba’s goats just had kids (pun not intended) and she was proud to show them off to me.


28 May, 2008

On Saturday, my former counterpart (she left the office to work at a bank) got married to her long time boyfriend. Under Communism, the central government tried to replace the role of the church. In attempts to do this, wedding ceremonies take place at the municipal building. As far as I know, the ceremony its self is really short (signing papers) but the party afterwards is the big deal. Unfortunately, I wasnt’ invited to the wedding since she and groom have large extended families and there wasn’t enough room. However, I went to the municipality to congratulate  her and the groom and to wish them the best of luck.

Driving up to the municipality

My co-workers with my former counterpart

Wedding procession into the municipality

I wish her and her husband the best of luck!

For more info on Bulgarian weddings, here is a good site. My sitemate is getting married next month and I’ll be posting a detailed entry with lots of photos.

Cyrillic Alphabet Day

28 May, 2008

Last Saturday was the Cyrillic Alphabet Day, the day to celebrate the alphabet developed by brothers Saints Cyrill and Methodius. The street infront of the municipality was blocked off and in front of the giant Soviet statue in town students from all over the city preformed.

The event lasted about two hours or so and it involved choreographed dancing, singing, marching and other preformances. This is probably one of the biggest holidays in Bulgaria, after St. George’s Day.

The introduction of the Cyrillic alphabet was of enormous importance. More that any other development it prevent the absorption of the Bulgarians by the Greeks to their south or the Franks to their west. It enable the Bulgarians to create their own literature. …The new alphabet also faciliatated the production of important secular texts such as legal code, Zakon Sudnii Liudim (Закон Судий Лиудим); and without an alphabet it is difficult to imagine how the Bulgarian state could have carried out administration in the Slavo-Bulgarian language. Above all, however, the new alphabet enabled the Bulgarian church to use Slavo-Bulgarian as the language of the liturgy, and had it not been able to do this it would have been impossible for the Bulgarian church to escape total Greek domination. –A Concise History of Bulgaria

As you can see, the Cyrillic alphabet had a huge impact on Bulgaria and its course in history. Without Cyrillic, Bulgarian culture would have been desemated during the “Turkish Yoke” that lasted 500 years. Bulgarian traditions, culture and language survived in the monasteries throughout the country and made a revival in the 19th century. Bulgarians realize this and they rightfully set aside a day every year to celebrate their language, and by extension, their 500 year survival during the Ottoman Empire.

[Ottoman] domination was without a doubt at times extrememly repressive but the Bulgarian nation, the Bulagrian  church, and the Bulgarian language survived. When the Ottomans departed from Bulgaria the Bulgarians still spoke Bulgarian and Bulgarian manufacturing has flourished as a supplier to the Ottoman army; when British rule ended in southern Ireland the Irish language was almost dead and Irish industry had been stifled to prevent competition with British manufacturers.–A Conciese History of Bulgaria

“Your work is to find work”

26 May, 2008

-PC Staff during training

I seem to be finding/planning work but not so much on the follow through. I have lots of plans and project ideas but they tend just be that, plans and ideas. I’ve been trying to get my English clubs off the ground. There has been enthusiasm but little action. As for my medical center project, it’s stalled. I’ve written emails to the WHO, World Bank, EEA and Ministry of Finance with nothing to show for it. I’m not really sure where to proceed with it, or if I can. Even worse, I think my lack of progress is letting down my co-workers and the doctors in the villages that I surveyed. Especially this one.

Even though I’m a COD volunteer, I’m not really doing much COD work. That’s been frustrating; part of the reason I was excited to be a Community and Organizational Development volunteer was to get more specific experience. The only COD-type work I’ve done is help with the PHARE project, the At-Risk Children’s Center- Youth Development (YD)-type work. The only real work I feel like I’ve been doing is teaching the computer class and will be a kindergarten teacher (since there will be no new TEFL in town after my site mate leaves).

I was talking about my frustrations with Cindy over the weekend and she pointed out that I’m adapting the needs of community and not to fret; I’ll be busy soon enough. If I get my English clubs off the ground with teaching kindergarten and continuing my computer classes, I’ll have my hands full. Part of this is re-assuring as I’ll feel like I’m making a difference. Both another part of me feels like I’ll be letting down my organization, the department of external resources at the municipality.

But it’s not about me, right? The bottom line (and what I need to keep front and center) is my contributions to my community. Most of my PCV friends are in similar positions- YDs feeling like CODs and vice versa while everyone feeling like a TEFL more often than not. I think I need to remember that although I may not be fulfilling my role per se, I will be leaving my community better off than I found it.

No one said the Peace Corps would be easy.

Deep Thought

26 May, 2008

The Peace Corps policy manual doesn’t say anything about getting pulled behind a car on a motorcycle…

Feast Day

23 May, 2008

Tomorrow is the feast day of Saints Cyrill and Methodius, the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet which is used by eight major languages (Belarusian, Bulgarian, Croatian, Macedonian, Russian, Rusyn, Serbian, and Ukrainian). It’s one of the largest and most important holidays in Bulgaria. There will be a parade through the center of town as well as preformances by the students at my school. I’ll be sure to take lots of photos.

It’s also an important day since it marks the end of or the near end of the school year. I went out to lunch today and it was full of dressed up students celebrating the end of high school. If I had just gotten to Bulgaria, I would have been startled by all the of them drinking beer and rakiya. It was also easy to see who the teachers were since they had massive amounts of flowers. I’ll have a full report up sometime this weekend or early next week.

How to Annoy Me

23 May, 2008

Give the cashier 20 Leva and then ask her to list all the ingredients from every carton cigarettes in the store.

Bonus point: do this while I’m trying to buy 30 stotinki worth of valfa