Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Wedding party!

what a weekend!

this weekend, the PC trainees in Ceptemvri were invited to a bulgarian wedding! it was held at the nicest restaurant in town (nice by american standards, I think) which is very near to my house. the party started at 6:30pm, and we finally made it home just before midnight. when we arrived, there was a cultural ceremony following the church wedding. the bride and groom drank from sepearate glasses, and then threw them over their shoulders. Then, someone tied a ribbon around them, and the two of them walked around a table together (this is very Greek, I believe). Finally, then kicked a giant loaf of bread called "peta" and the dancing began! there was a DJ at the party, and most of the music we heard was actaully american music. at one point during the night, the DJ came to speak with "the americans" and since his english was not very good, and our bulgarian was even worse, he spoke to one of the trainees (Alex) in german! in the end, Alex does not, apparently, understand German all that well, because we wound up ALONE on the dance floor for an entire song- the DJ played a song that was just for us. In america, we have songs that are just for the new couple, but that night in Ceptemvri, we americans had our own "first song." as the night went on and we recovered from our embaressing dancing event, we enjoyed bulgarian foods, gave our gift to the bride, took a picture with the bride, and each of us recieved little white flowers to pin on our clothes. what a great introduction to bulgarian culture!

after all of THAT excitment, myself and my fellow volunteers had additional entertainment as we traveled to our HUB city of Pazardjik to be reuined with the 45 other volunteers!!! The official purpose was to receive more training and information on health and safety, but we managed to have a lot of fun too! we stayed in a local hotel, and my roommate and I were supremely lucky and got a TWO room apartment-style room that we were able to use for entertaining our fellow trainees. :) we met a TON of volunteers who came to visit us and have panel discussion- they are such a valuable resource because they can tell us what works, what doesn't work, and general tips for surviving in Bulgaria.

I want to remind everyone how minimal our bulgarian skills are. keeping that in mind, we spent two full days in a large city full of Bulgarian speakers...what great exposure! I felt really bad for all of the restaurants who dealt with our shakey bulgarian, but it was sure a relief for the Ceptemvri trainees to find out that we were HELPING most of the other volunteers. So, I guess, even if we're all bad, Ceptemvri is the best of the worst!

I also found out that there is another nashvillian in PC Bulgaria! one of the volunteers, Anna, who served on a panel this week told me about this guy. His name is Chris, and he is in the same program as me, but he has been here for a year. I can't remember if he was a Vandy or UT/Knoxville grad though. Apparently, there are a lot of TN volunteers in Bulgaria.

the final exciting thing (that I can think of) is that *potential* permenant sites were revealed this week! for the 19 YD (youth development) trainees, there are 25 potential sites. We have a few days to look them over, and next week we are interviewing for our spots, and at the start of week 5 (two weeks from now) we'll know our permenant sites! how exciting!!! I really hope to be placed in an NGO that is looking for assistance with grant writting, and also one that is working on integration between the minority groups and the "bulgarian" majority.

the only sad news I have is that Lisa, one of the other trainees, decided to ET. an ET is an "early termination" from the program. she decided PC wasn't her thing, and she actaully left after her first weekend with her host family. we were ALL quite shocked about this, especially those of us who had made good friends with her. in addition, she was the first person to ET in our group of 50 (now 49). She was one of the people I was really looking forward to seeing at HUB, and I would never have picked her as a person to leave. hopefully, things are going well for her back in washington state.

hope that all is well!!


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