WorldTeach Bulgaria Summer 2009
I traveled to Sofia on June 28th, 2009 to greet the American volunteers who were going to be teaching English in the summer. I remember I arrived with Bulgarian rose oil for each of the 12 volunteers. After a week of orientation in Sofia, they were ready to travel to their placements, and that is when I met Derek and William for the first time.
They were going to be teaching at the Math high school in the town of Pazardzhik. I had just graduated from the same high school and was eager to meet these two American volunteers who would be in my country for two months. They knew no one and spoke not a word of Bulgarian.
From our first handshake onward, I was eager to share Bulgaria’s traditions and culture with them and learn about the United States. I could not have been more grateful for their presence in my country. And later in my life.
Derek was from the state of Georgia, the Peach State. William was from the Common Wealth of Massachusetts, in the heart of picturesque New England. And the home of many great sports teams.
Derek was a die-hard New York Yankees fan; William was a Red Sox fan. They quickly brought me up to speed on the Yankees–Red Sox rivalry, one of the fiercest rivalries in American sports. Despite their differences, they ended up forming a great team together.
A high school friend of mine had kindly agreed to pick us up from their hostel in Sofia and take us back to Pazardzhik, their home for the next two months. During our short trip, I was asking them endless questions about the United States: famous quotes, history, cities, and everything else under the sun.
We ended up having late night conversations about what they thought was positive, as well as negative, about the American culture all summer long. I participated in that same debate about mine.
For the two months Derek and William spent in Pazardzhik, they became the local superheroes. They were on the local TV and in the local newspaper! They even met the mayor!
Their experience was so inspiring that upon returning to the United States, they continued supporting the development of Bulgarian youth from afar. But more about that later.