© 2011 Daniel 012

Oh Take Me Back to the Start

Dear friends…

How things have changed in only a month! Work has completely turned around and I now almost have more tasks than time. I work with two schools, a kindergarten, a tutoring center, private tutoring, a reporter’s club, a cultural center, two groups of adult English learners, a book club, scouts, and a municipal administration center. I want to complain about the workload a little, but I secretly love working with so many groups and organizations because I get to color code my planner.

The entire country has been lively with the elections coming up. Bulgaria has four major political parties and many smaller ones. They are ГЕРБ (conservatives), КБ (socialists), ДПС (liberals), and Атака (nationalists). There’s been a lot of ГЕРБ campaigning in my area and they even hosted a song/dance event in my village.

Bulgaria is a unitary state, which means that power is centralized at the national level. There are still administrative divisions in the form of regions and muncipalities, but the politics function very differently from those in a federalist state. The political culture is also very different; Bulgarians are very politically active, with parliamentary elections seeing voter turnout rates of over 60%. Ironically, despite the high participation rate, Bulgarian suffers from high corruption. At a corruption perceptions index of 3.6, Bulgaria is barely more “clean” than China, Moldova, and Mexico.

Still, things can change. Children are the future and my students are fantastic. On Wednesday and Friday afternoons, I work at a kindergarten in Razgrad. We learned about animals last week. It’s frightening how quickly young kids can absorb information; We hardly were through the stack twice when some of them began trying out their spelling. They’re going to love the national spelling bee in the Spring.

I also work with young kids through the scouting program. One of the organizers brought me to a ravine in the nearby village of Poroishte to show me his vision for a park. It’s hard to see in the picture, but to the left lies a steep slope up to a forest. To the right is a slope opening up to a dirt road lined with dry hay. Descending just a few meters down dropped the temperature enough to preserve the snow from earlier in the week. Even though it’s a bit late in the game, I’m holding out some hope to put together a project and pull together funding before I leave.

At the far end of the ravine is a small cave that leads to an ancient Thracian healing spring. Some of the carvings in the wall date back over two millenia. The place was unreachable for years until a group of boy scouts from Belgium recently came to manually scoop out the mud that had covered everything. They hope to make the trail to the cave accessible for the young scouts to hike through someday.

Some of the scouts also participate at the activities center. This Friday was part one of our Halloween celebrations. Next week, we’ll watch The Nightmare Before Christmas on the projector and have a costume party. We’ll also have to go bobbing for apples. I wish we could go trick-or-treating, but I think we’d just end up scaring the old folks who don’t know about Halloween.

Even as Bulgaria chills and people bunker down in their homes, work only continues to heat up for me. It’s great and I’m finally getting good sleep. Idle hands can’t rest and I’m enthusiastic about putting that Peace Corps tagline “the hardest job you’ll ever love” to the test. I remember the feelings I had when I first read that; I’d like to go back to that place now.

Have a happy Halloween, everyone!

Daniel

One Comment

  1. hc
    Posted October 28, 2011 at 10:44 pm | #

    May God bless the work you do for Him!

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