Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Toni makes a return!

For the next two years, I will be residing in the lovely city of Pernick, Bulgaria! I spent wed., thurs., and friday in this city, and it should be a lot of fun! I'm pretty excited about my job, the city, and the people i'm going to work both for and with...but let me back up a little

two saturdays ago, I attended a workshop on acquiring funding from the EU in Plovdiv. This was a day long workshop full of gorey details on the EU and how Bulgaria with be affected with accession into the Union. Though it was sometimes mindnumbing, it was very valuable information. For example, before BG joins the EU, the EU will provide 70% of the funding for proposed projects, while BG will foot the other 30% of the bill. After BG is part of the EU, the funding burden is flipped- that means I had better start writing projects ASAP! ;) just kidding!

Last monday (not the 19th), permenate sites were revealed to the 49 PC trainees. We all gathered in a gym and waited expectantly around a map of bulgaria on the floor which was constructed entirely out of masking tape! people's names were drawn at random, and then their sites were announced. Luckily, I was one of the first people (maybe 15th or so) so I didn't have to get too nervous! anyway, once we heard our site, we found it on the big map and waited there while other sites were announced. My city is about 20km from the capital city of Sophia, which is great, but unfortunately, most of my friends from training were placed in the eastern part of the country! I guess that will make for some great vacation days, especially since the eastern part of BG is a BEAUTIFUL beach!!!!

In Pernick, I will be working in an NGO for Roma people. This NGO is focused on increasing the standard of living for Roma people in the town, and specifically, on school retention. In BG, many of the Roma youth stop going to school after 5th or 6th grade, and as the poverty cycle goes, the Roma have a challenging time trying to create a happy and healthy life for themselves. I will tell you more details about my job as they come, but one of the things people are most excited about is that I will organize some youth clubs and some after-school english clubs. People were so excited, in fact, that I was interviewed three times; once by the city paper, once by another local paper, and once on the TV news! this was DEFINITELY overwhelming but also exciting! the tv news interview was quite stressful though, because the reported repeatedly asked me questions about the problems that face Roma (and all minorities worldwide) and what I think the biggest problems are, and what I think the solutions are. WHEW! Luckily, since I had a translator, I was able to understand what they were asking me, and I also was able to be very politically correct- afterall- how terrible would it be to offend your community before you are even living there?!?!?!?!

okay, more later, but this is only a short break

oh, AND i DO have a GSM, and I'll be emailing that number out later!


At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Kelly Whipple said...

Hey Toni,

Just wanted to write you a short note to let you know that YOUR LIFE IS AWESOME! You seem to be very happy in BG and I LOVE reading about your experiences. It makes me want to join the PC or study abroad or even better, come visit you! Take care and enjoy yourself. You are making a differnece in peoples lives; i doesn't get much better than that!


At 7:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

HI Toni,

I try to look at your web site everyday I'm at work. It sounds so exciting what you are doing. You definitly are making a difference in peoples lives. Always knew you would accomplish great things!! Take care. Love you. Aunt Edith :)

At 7:01 PM, Anonymous Michael said...

Congrats on the site placement. Hope you find a choir to with which to sing. Glad I got to meet you this past weekend. Do Skoro - Michael.

At 3:01 AM, Anonymous alfie said...

I'm kidding!
But seriously, you get to work with Gypsy youth?

Seriously, I can't stop talking about NLGJA ... read my blog ... it was ... AMAZING!


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