The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of Elon University, the U.S. government, or the Peace Corps.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Monday, September 22

Tonight after a long day of studying and working on our community mural project for me, and harvesting potatoes for my host parents, I sat at a delicious meal with host parents. After we were done, and all commenting about how tired we were after a long day/weekend of work, Svetla started laughing and then offered to write me a note to my Bulgarian teacher saying I had to stay at the house and help them tomorrow, instead of going to language training. She said that way I could sleep all day if I wanted to! 
The great thing was not just that my host mom was offering me a way to skip out on school for a day, but that I UNDERSTOOD HER WHEN SHE SAID IT!!!!

Things have been going really well… I’m far away from being conversational in Bulgarian (but hey, I’ve been here for far less than 3 months), but things are clicking way more than I ever thought they would. I love my host parents to death, and I can tell that hanging out with them as much as possible is paying off. I am more comfortable trying to explain things, and every day feel like I am understanding more and more. Its hard sometimes, to pass up on time with my fellow PCV’s, but I know that time with my host parents and my babas/diado’s is what is going to get me going through the next two years out on my own. It makes me so excited to know that Svetla and Kiril are already looking forward to me making the 20 kilometer trip from Samokov back to their village for na gosti’s, weekends, or vacation time. 

Makes me happy. 

Friday, September 19, 2008

Last week I was wearing sandals and a tank top and couldn't get cool enough...

Right now, my bedroom is 55 degrees Fahrenheit (12C) at its WARMEST and I left almost all of my warm clothes in Samokov.

My host mom's solution?

"Drink more Rakia!"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Site Visit Update: SAMOKOV!!!

I have been back in my training village for about a week, and I after that much time to process, I can officially express how excited I am!!

The first two days I was in Samokov last week I sat with my boss or whoever drinking beer or coffee and basically watching the world go by. "Going to Cafe" is the lifestyle here, but as I visual person, I was majorly struggling with the purpose God had for me there. I was hearing about the youth I would be working with, but I was mentally missing the connection.

Then, on Friday, we went into the Roma (one of the top 2 minority groups in Bulgaria) neighborhood ("Mahala" in Bulgaria) and I was blown away. Samokov is a major tourist destination because it lays at the foothills of Borovets, the international ski resort. I will be living in one of the coldest regions in Bulgaria, and none of the houses in the Mahala were insulated. There is no drainage system, so the sewage just runs down the streets already filled with trash. In the Roma culture girls get married very young (as young as 12 sometimes...), and start families immediately. The school in Samokov doesn't even offer grades past the 9th. Most of the Roma community doesn't even leave the neighborhood...

My first year in college I wrote a paper that turned some heads in my Global class... The topic was female circumcision, and in many ways, I defended the practice. No, I do NOT think it is morally correct or even justifiable, but what right do we have as Americans to walk into a culture that is not our own and demand they change their religious practices of hundreds of years? I proposed that we supported cultures that chose to engage in such practices by offering them health knowledge and resources to keep things safe. If people aren't open to change, they will resist EVERY motion of improvement. If you offer doctors and sterile environments, you allow them to still practice their traditions, while promoting health and safety.

I feel very similar about my future role in Samokov. I am not there to cause drastic change or force anyone to deviate from a lifestyle they believe to be true and appropriate. I am however, there to encourage them to think forwardly and to strive for advancement. I can't wait to encourage young girls to stay in school a little longer, but not by belitting the traditions of starting a young family. I thrive on the idea of encouraging the mixing of races and tearing down ethnic walls...

But I am NOT going to Samokov to force change. I am going as a change agent to broaden horizons and encourage the betterment of their lives using resources and knowledge they already have.

And THAT folks, is why I chose Peace Corps.... :)

God knows I'm not strong enough with this, but I am so excited (and honestly? Terrified) to know I don't need to be. I always seem to acquire the strength I need, and I know this is no different situation.

Its going to be a long, hard, emotional two years, but I can't wait to see God work through me and teach me things I never thought I would know.

Samokov as a whole is a BEAUTIFUL city (the international ski resort of Borovets is right up the road), and if you didn't know the Roma community was there, you would have no clue any of this was going on. Most Roma don't even leave the neighborhood... Those are the things that drew me to New York this past year - seeing the drastic juxtaposition between the richest of the rich and the poorest of the poor, and yet again I will be driven by that here in Bulgaria.

I won't be moving to Samokov for another month, but I can't wait to share my experiences and the fruit of so many thoughts/prayers from my family and friends back home!!

Monday, September 1, 2008


I can't say my specific site on here, but if you want to know... ASK!!!

I'll be located an hour south-west of Sofia (the capital), and only 30 minutes west of Dupnitsa (which is the city half an hour from my training village).

I will be replacing a volunteer whose service is up in October at an NGO that serves a large Roma population. The Roma community in Bulgaria accounts for the largest percentage of education drop-out rates, deviance, and early pregnancies, and they are often segregated from the traditional Bulgarian community.

Job Description: "The organization works with the Roma minority and at-risk children, where the ethnic intolerance is quite visible. Your priorities will be working with at-risk children and managing their free-time, as well as: working with parents, writing project proposals/grants, youth leadership, skills transfer, english courses, and initiating sport activities."

I thought I was a hundred percent sure I wanted to work at an orphanage in a small town, but God had other plans!! You'd think I'd learn... :) 

I will be doing what I love to do - loving on kids who need it the most. :) 

So excited!!!

We leave tomorrow for our first site visits, and I will keep everyone posted!!