Thursday, September 28, 2006

Not PC related at all!

wow, this guy's got mad skills on the guitar!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

We made it!

YYYEeeeaaaaa!!! Bulgaria is set to join the EU on Jan 1st, 2007!!! okay, romania too...but BULGARIA! today, in lieu of english class, my coworkers huddled around the director's TV to hear the reports from the European Parliment. In my heart, I sort of expected to hear "Sorry BG, Romania, but you're not gonna make it this year. better luck next time!" so it was a pleasant surprise to hear that 2007 is in fact, the date. Bulgaria and Romania began their EU accession application proceedure back in 1995/6, and talks formally started in 2000. This, needless to say, has been a long time to wait for accession espeically when you consider that a lot of their "expectation" may or maynot be met. As all this time has elapsed, many Bulgarians have become uninterested in the EU, and many have also become extremely pessimistic towards Europe and everything that comes with it. A commen complaint I hear is that "only poor countries want to join the EU," and those critics want bulgaria to be self-sustaining entity. I think some of these people are also concerned that the cultural integrity of Bulgaria will also diminish with the distraction of Europe's boarders be more permiable. my old boss used to say that the second bulgaria joined the EU- "kaput!" no more bulgaria because all the bulgarians would leave.

on a similar theme of "we made it," my women's choir recorded its first CD last weekend! For months we tried to find "ydobni" (comfortable/convinient) dates for the whole group, and the middle of september finally worked for everyone. After months of talking about this recording and the studio we were going to use, I was started to get really impressed by bulgaria's level of technology, and even more impressed that my ugly miner's town had this stuff! When we arrived at our studio, i was suprised to instead be walking into a lecture hall built in the early 1900s. The acoustics were great, and the decor something to keep me fascinated during breaks. This particular building is the "mining administration building," though in name only as the mines have been closed for years. inside is also a museum, a brank of the national bank, and of course, an automatic coffee machine. well after about 4 hours of verbal abuse from our director, we finished up and we're currently awaiting the finished product! and if you ever wondered what it sounds like when an american sings a solo in russian with her bulgarian choir...then this CD is not to be missed!

On sunday, I headed into to sofia to attend mass and to meet a friend who was arriving from Athens. I ran to catch my train, and sat in the compartment which appeared to have the least threatening environment; non-smoking old people. about 10 minutes into the trip, the old people - who weren't aquaintences- began chatting. it soon came out that the oldest guy was on his way home from a folk music festival in Macedonia, where he had been a participant. The rest of our trip was then filled with Macedonian folk songs sung by this 80 year old man with the voice of someone perhaps twice his age. It was really quite pleasant, and I was pleased to have such an unusual occurrance that was also a positive one! a typical "unexpected" event on bulgarian public transportation usually means you get grossed out or annoyed, so this was a great change! before we all got off the train in sofia, the man gave us autographed pictures of himself. totally sweet.

okay, this is my update for now!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Back to Bulgaria

NERVE-WRACKING: adj- translating from bulgarian to english to romanian to english, and back to bulgarian. infront of regional television crew. live. eep.

let's say that today was humbling. one of the cool perks of my new job is that performers from different countries come as soloists or entire ensembles to play in our facility. Sometimes they are bulgarians who've migrated, and more recently, the performers are plain ol' foriegners who speak english. Today, a classical quartet from Romainia played a program as part of a three-city tour in bulgaria. An hour beforehand, the local media held a press conference with yours truly as a translator. Inter nerve-wracking, stage left. I think i made up a LOT of words and messed up a lot of names...but the important thing is that the Romanians didn't even notice that English was my first langauge, versus Bulgarian... (but wait, what does that say for my english? whoops...)

but as my heading says...I'm back to Bulgaria!! I spent an entire week in the fabulous republic of macedonia, our neighboor to the west. Thanks to two other volunteers, i was invited to participate in a youth worker's training course as part of the European Commission's effort to educate youth and youth workers. This particular course was on the topics of Citizenship, Globalism, and Consumerism. Guess why I wanted to go...

anyway, I was pretty pumped to go see Macedonia for myself. As far back as i can remember (read: understand what people are saying), most Bulgarians have had some type of story for me about how macedonia is the same country as bulgaria, that the langauge is simply a dialect of bulgarian, etc etc. Well, i'm not going to make any huge revalations about this age-old conflict, but I can say with assurance: macedonia is cleaner, the boys are cuter, and people actually speak english! oh yeah, they've also got great ice cream!

okay, this entry is actually pointless. appologies!