Archive for June, 2008

Day Camp

27 June, 2008

Last week I was invited to help another Volunteer out with her summer day camp. This camp was in the second largest city in the country and in a minority neighborhood. It was sometimes confusing since they didn’t speak Bulgarian very well, mostly Turkish and Romani (the language of the Roma). All in all, we (meaning the other volunteers, I was the newest of all them)  were able to communicate effectively with them.The school was located in a busy section of this minority quarter. There were stands selling all kinds of Bulgarian snacks, car repair shops, Turkish pop music blasting from local cafes, mother’s taking their infants out to the market. It was a lively little street and I enjoyed walking it every morning. The school looked like a typical Bulgarian school: run down but full of character. Next door, still on school grounds, was a collapsing building, sandwhiched between an abadoned one. The abandoned building was a crack house. I wish I could say I was exaggerating, but our games were interrupted several times by local junkies making there way to the den.

(more…)

Advertisements

School field trip!

25 June, 2008

Sorry for the backlog, I’ve been very busy. No photos since my camera was stolen (details in a later post)

Last weekend I went on an end of the year trip with students from a local school. This trip took us to Western Bulgaria and was an overnight-er. We met at the statue of Vasil Levski (the Bulgarian George Washington. I’m pretty sure every city and village in Bulgaria is required to have a street and school named after him). We climbed on board (with more people than seats), the driver turned to me, pointed forward and said: Let’s go! My weekend excursion was on it’s way! Our first stop was the mountain town of Unola. It was absolutely gorgeous. I love travelling through the Rhodopies. After a short break there, we headed Southwest to the picturesque town of Bansko. Bansko was different than most mountain towns I’d been to since it was heavily commercialized. Bansko is in prime skiing location and the Bulgarian government is taking advantage of it by suffocating it with resorts and tacky tourist traps. The town itself is quaint and beautiful. We stopped there to have lunch. Since most of the students were too cool to talk to the American, I had lunch with some of the teachers. Most of the conversation was in Bulgarian and I was happy to get some practice in. After lunch we went site-seeing around town. There was a huge statue of Kliment of Ohrid (the namesake of my school), the first Bulgarian historian.

(more…)

Deep Thought

18 June, 2008

Teaching kids how to play American football isn’t as easy as it seems.

Also, Roma street kids have some crazy footwork skills.

Deep Thought

17 June, 2008

You know you’re in with kids when one of them buys you juice.

Massive update later this week or early next week-school trip, summer camp and awesome site mate’s wedding.

The week that was

13 June, 2008

This last week has been fairly busy. A brief review:

I sat in on the summer kindergarten class. I had a blast! We (read: my site mate) did several English games. A great one was having a duck-duck-goose style game where they went around the classroom and introduced themselves. The person chosen went on and chose someone else until everyone had gone. There were several “Psssst! Pick me! Pick me!. We (again- awesome site mate) went over colors. If the wore the color, they had to come give me a high five. If they didn’t, they had to jump. All in all, it was a great day.

(more…)

What I’m Reading

13 June, 2008

At Europe’s Wild Frontier: How Bulgaria is struggling to combat organised crime.

And interesting article from the Finical Times. Well worth a read to get a better idea of corruption and its impact in Bulgaria.

…organised crime reaches deep into everyday life through an underground economy that supplies everything from cocaine to VAT-free building materials. Some 30 per cent of retail fuel comes illegally from duty-free sources, says the Bulgarian Petrol and Gas Association. About 25 per cent of the cigarette market and 75 per cent of that for ready-mixed concrete is untaxed, says the Center for the Study of Democracy (CSD), a local think-tank. …

The government has been hampered by scandals. First, the chief of the highways agency was forced to quit after it emerged that contracts were awarded to his brother’s company. Next, Brussels raised questions about possible irregularities in the distribution of pre-accession funds – and suspended some payments while investigations are carried out. Finally, Rumen Petkov resigned as interior minister after two officials were accused of leaking information to criminals and the minister himself admitted meeting crime bosses.

Deep Thought

11 June, 2008

If you give a kindergartener a high five in front of the entire class, you have to give one to everyone and it quickly becomes a competition as to who can give the hardest.

Deep Thought

10 June, 2008

New PC trainees out there: listen to the wise PCVs when they say that befriending babas will make your life easier.

Deep Thought

10 June, 2008

The difference between “може” (I can) and “може би” (maybe) can get you into trouble.

What I’m Reading

9 June, 2008

Bulgaria under pressure over crime

Just 18 months after Bulgaria became a member of the European Union, it risks losing millions worth of EU funds unless it can prove it is cracking down on corruption and organised crime. …There have been 150 contract killings since 1990, but not a single conviction. The latest took place in April, not far from one of the busiest bus stops in Sofia.

That’s not good. However, I believe that the Bulgarian government is making honest strides to clean up the corruption. It’s important to keep in mind that corruption is a global problem and it can’t be fixed overnight. According to Transparency International, Bulgaria is ranked 64th (tied with Croatia and Turkey) while the US is number 20 (between France and Belgium respectively).

I wrote a paper in college about corruption and I find it a fascinating topic. It can be very difficult to define and it’s often very murky (some definitions include using government money to cater to the upper class for legitimate expenses. For example, buying expensive hospital equipment instead of badly needed vaccines for the general public). I believe that things will be worse off if the EU cuts off Bulgaria’s aid. That being said, Bulgaria needs to take a stronger approach tackling the problem.

Also, please keep this in mind if you plan to comment. Thanks.