As much as the actual practical work itself, cultural learning is what international volunteer projects have always been about. Part of that entails changing our own perceptions and challenging the stereotypes – be they positive or negative - that we too hold. Here,
Two Bulgarian girls at a disco in their orphanage, Gutzal 2002.
What comes to mind when you think of
Since this summer I decided to attempt something a little more adventurous and a lot less superficial than your typical beach holiday in
As a university student I am no stranger to night-clubs and bars, but no amount of hi-tech lighting, after shock and elaborate garage mixes can beat the Gypsy night-club. I may have exchanged the city lights for a square concrete room with a Ghetto Blaster in the corner, but it was one of the most amazing nights of my life. People could not do enough to please, one girl and her friends spent the entire evening attempting to teach me to dance and not ancient traditional steps, rather moves that could definitely teach Madonna a thing or two!
Yanko my group leader almost gave me his entire first aid when I sneezed,a girl from one of the Kindergartens we had been working on came and sang to us and an entire church congregation shook our hands whilst attending their Sunday service. Certainly, anyone who interacts with Bulgarian Gypsies will find themselves overwhelmed with generosity and hospitality.
Admittedly, a volunteer project in