Sunday, August 25, 2013

Thoughts on Fulbright Summer Institute, Week 2

Highlights:
·      Walk with Sam and Morgan back from our end of the week dinner. Morgan and the horse I was afraid of.
·      “Sweat. Salt. Honey. Breathing. These things are my cure-alls” –Morgan
·      “This is the way.” –Stefka, Bulgarian instructor. Trying trying trying to learn Bulgarian from this remarkable, patient, snarky professor.
·      Evening heart to hearts with new friends on the patio by the lake.
·      Soaking in the bathtubs.
·      Writing blog posts.

Lowlights:
·       THE INTERNET.
·      That might be everything. Just the internet quitting everyday. I really do value wifi more than meal times.

Live music in downtown Pravets


Thoughts on what it means to be trained:
We’re in a immaculate resort in the poorest country in the E.U. We are functionally being paid to vacation. We learn Bulgarian sitting in desks and try to use phrases when we walk the mile into the center of town. The nearest town used to be the “Semi Conductor Capital of the World” and built all the computers for the Russians; now it is close to empty. We start to complain that 5 lev bottles of wine are pricey (this amounts to around $3). Various professionals at the tops of their fields give us lectures and we don’t remember a single slide or piece of information they give us. We are told “Turks are stupid” and we are told “If you try things too dramatic in your classroom, they will not respect you”; we are told “American volunteerism is the greatest export to the world”; we are told, “You are no longer private citizens.” We eat enormous meals and drink lots of “кафе” to keep us going. The sun sets golden and we can watch it from our balconies. I panic when I try to say basic “Thank you” phrases to the women who come in to make my bed. Why did I stop making my own bed? I washed my clothes to feel grounded again. 
Laundry 

These two weeks were our heartfelt, graceful, embarrassing welcome to Bulgaria. I feel welcomed and valued. I am scared I will let this whole country down when I don’t measure up to the ideals of education and democracy and intellectual exchange that Fulbright and the United States picked me to represent.

1 comment:

Anna Andrews said...

Dana,
It's scary I know, often advice was conflicting and the expectations are high with very little to truly go off of. But I know we can do it, and we will do it together. With faith, hope, perseverance, joy, laughter, humor, and the recognition we will fail but we must fail to truly enjoy our success! I am here for you, whatever you need just know I am supporting you as Stefka would say, from Burgas. <3