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Volunteer Spotlight: Julia Macnelly

SEEfest Staff Writer | November 16, 2014, 8:05 PM


Get to know Julia Macnelly, SEEfest 2014 Festival Coordinator and World Traveler. 

Здрасти от България!

I’m writing to you from Tryavna, a very small and equally quaint town in the center of Bulgaria that is known for artisan crafts like wood carving, silver filigree, and icon painting. We also have cobblestone streets and a clocktower that sings an operatic rendition of a famous local poet’s verse every night at 10 pm, seriously. I’m living here for the year on a Fulbright grant, teaching English to the students in 8-12th grades at Petko Slaveikov uchilishte (school). The town is situated within the Balkan mountain range, so you can basically walk ten minutes in most directions for beautiful razxodki (hikes…did I mention this blog post is also a Bulgarian language lesson?)

I’ve made several trips around Southeastern Europe in the last few years, so in some ways it feels very familiar being here in the region—but mostly my life feels so completely different. I am learning the ways of the Bulgarian school system (lots and lots of bureaucratic busywork. Your signature is literally required at least 3 times per day for various things) and trying to communicate with my very welcoming colleagues in Bulgarian (I have so far heard that I either have a Czech, Polish, Croatian, Russian, Slovenian, or Romanian accent, but never an American one, so maybe I’m on my way?) I’m also starting a chapter of the BEST Foundation (Bulgarian English Speech Tournament, at my school, which means I will be coaching students in performing prose, poetry, original work, and debates, all in English—obviously they’re brave souls!

I will be here through the end of the school year next June, which means, sadly, that I will have to miss SEEfest’s 10th anniversary. I had such a wonderful experience working with the festival for the first time this past May and can’t wait to rejoin the team when I’m back in the States. I have loved sharing my stories about Southeastern Europe with friends and family, and so I’m truly proud to be a part of this event which brings this slice of the world to an even wider audience. I hope this year is the best yet, and I look forward to keeping up with the festival from overseas.

– Julia





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