Archive for May, 2009


30 May, 2009

Here are a few pictures Trevor posted on Facebook. I’ll post more once I take some.

Walking down the main street in the Roma Mahala (Gypsy slum) with (lt-rt) Trevor, Mustafa and me.

(lt-rt) Mustafa, Toby (Trevor’s brother), Tommy. Mustafa and Tommy are fantastic football players and eager students

My class at the church in the mahala.

Trevor and I at the entrance of the mahala

That’s it for pictures I’m going to steal. I’ll post more late


Last! Day! of School!

29 May, 2009

Yesterday was my last day teaching my kindergarten class. I’ve been teaching them since the beginning of the school year, four days a week for an hour a day. With this much English, my students can now speak very well. In fact, I believe they can speak much better than the average sixth grader! I was talking with my Bulgarian tutor, who is an English teacher, and she was telling me how depressing it is as they can hardly speak at all. This is despite four or more continuous years of studying. I hope my students will keep up with their interest in learning English. If they do, they will be my gift to my tutor…three years from now.

As it was our last day, we were really light on the “teaching part” and focused more on the “let’s have fun part”. I ran through the commands I’ve taught them (stand up, sit down, run, walk, etc), played Red Light, Green Light and a rousing game of Duck Duck Goose (I swear, that game is like crack for Bulgarian six year olds). Then I asked them all to draw me a picture so I could take it home with me. They were really eager to do this. Here are a few of their drawings:

However, once they finished their pictures and discovered that I had a picture of Pluto for them to color, they became much less interested in completing their picture for me!

I had a blast teaching them and I will sorely miss them. I wish them all the best in the first grade.

Last day of school

My New Friends

22 May, 2009

Since I’ve been back I’ve been pretty busy. I’ve been hosting the PCV before me in Chirpan as well has his brother. It’s been great hanging out with his since he’s introduced me to his old friends.  But the big news is we went to the Mahala (the Roma slums). I’m going to have a lot of free time this summer so I’ve been looking for another project. What better way to finish off my service than helping the most underprivileged? Here’s how it happened:

The Roma people have historically been kicked around. During communism in Bulgaria, they were rounded up and put in separate communities only allowing them to enter town on market days. However, most Roma people are suspicious of outsiders and intentionally separate themselves. This is the biggest obstacle trying to enter the mahala-they don’t really want you there. Given this, you usually have to be invited in by someone. I didn’t have any Roma friends so this was a problem.

We walked to the edge of mahala and sat on some steps overlooking the slum, hoping to get noticed by a group of guys asking us what we were doing. We could see being out and about, some obviously wondering what those white dudes were doing looking into their neighborhood. No one came up to us to see what we wanted. We then decided to take a leap of faith and walk straight into the mahala, uninvited. We decided not to walk down the main street but a side street instead saying “hello” or “good afternoon” to everyone that made eye contact with us. We hadn’t been in the slum for more than two minutes when one of the many people eying us suspiciously asked us what we were doing in their neighborhood. We smiled, introduced ourselves, shook their hands and explained ourselves. Straight off the bat, they asked us if we were missionaries (I’ve been asked this before having been to mahalas in the past so I was prepared to dispel this quickly) As soon as I told them that I was an American looking to teach English for free, their skepticism vanished. It turns out, there is already an English group taught by the pastor of their church. We were, in fact, standing in front of their church (Adventist) and they invited us in to see their place of worship. We stressed that we were not religious and that our English lessons would be open to anyone who wanted to attend.

After our tour of their modest yet lovely church, they said their group would be meeting at six that evening. We were amazed how quickly everything went- in literally five minutes from entering the mahala, we offered a room, class and time to teach English. They then took us out to a cafe; one of the nicest I’ve been to in this country. It was on the second story, outdoors and offered a nice view of Chirpan in the not-so-far distance and the bustling street below. I wrote down my name and number for one of my new friends and he let the pastor know that an American would be joining their class that evening.

That evening we returned. I made copies of the first twenty pages or so of the text book I usually use. It’s the same book the Peace Corps provided for us to learn Bulgarian but translated for Bulgarians to learn English by a PCV. There were about eight students and the lesson went very smoothly;everyone was eager to learn. They had their second lesson the next day (Wednesday) and at the end of that class, they wanted us to return for a third day! My new friends, are quite simply, awesome.


22 May, 2009

Sorry for the lack of posts; I was in the US for 17 days due to a family emergency and my brother’s graduation.