By: Cadet Kara Barclay
Bulgaria Team five is running full force teaching English at the Bulgarian Air Force Academy, but outside of teaching we are getting to experience Bulgaria’s culture and learning more and more every day.
Before we arrived in Bulgaria many of us knew different traditions that were performed here in Bulgaria but we didn’t know about the tradition that occurs in January, which was brought to our attention on our first day of teaching during conversational practice.
It is one of the most popular Christianity feasts—also known as Bogoyavlenie, Voditsi, Vodokrushti– celebrating the consecration of the holy cross. Yordanovden/ Epiphany is a popular feast in the traditional Bulgarian calendar. It is associated with the belief that during the night before the feast the sky opens up and whoever makes a wish at that moment it will come true. On January 6th, a priest throws a cross into the river and then the miracle begins – the river starts boiling with people as they jump in. Prettily dressed residents from 10 to 50 years of age jump into the ice cold waters of the river and try to catch the cross. The tradition requires that the youngest of them all should pass the cross to the priest. The observers shed tears, thrilled by the solemn religious ritual.
Aside from traditions we have learned so much more about Bulgaria in so little time. We had the chance to have dinner with about ten Bulgarians that we have been working with. They called this dinner an “Icebreaker” even though we have been working with them for over a weak, but by now they were no longer shy and were filled with questions for us. This gave us the chance to learn more about their culture and for them to practice their English with us. The dinner we had turned out to be a huge success and we all enjoyed each other’s company and plan to have another dinner before we leave.
As we continue to teach English our focus is on conversational exercises. Our students seem to love the lessons we have planned and participate more and more every day we work with them. We have little competitions where our cadets are mixed in each team, which helps get everyone involved, brings the day to a close and sends everyone off with a good laugh and a smile.
Our mission may be coming to an end before we know it, but we are all enjoying every minute of it and wish we could help even more. Bulgaria is a beautiful place with people that welcome us with smiles every day we teach or go out for our culture visits. We can’t wait to meet more people here in Bulgaria and to continue our lessons with such great people.