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Why are we afraid to admit that the Bulgarians and Greeks are alike?

06 September 2011 / 16:09:30  GRReporter
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On the other hand, something I appreciate as a positive trend is that the Bulgarians began to travel a lot abroad and of course to Greece, which is in close proximity. Our southern neighbour is of great interest to the Bulgarians as tourists and they not only visit popular resorts and islands, but also seek information and find little heavens that are not approved destinations for the general public. I find this very positive because the more places you visit, the more things you learn. Bulgarians finally began to gain confidence, which is important for the others’ perception of you. Many of our students are in very close contact with the Greek reality and they themselves see that their prejudices yield in the direct contact with our neighbours.

Who are the people who study Greek in Bulgaria?

I would divide our students into two main groups. The first group consists of young people between 25-35 years, while others are more mature people to 50 years. Young people wishing to learn Greek are motivated by the fact that they are working in a Greek company and their proficiency in the language ​​other than English will help them grow in their careers. Our other young students are interested to learn Greek, because they intend to continue their education in Greece, most often to obtain a master's degree. They choose our southern neighbour, because it is closer, cheaper than other European countries and they will gain useful experience.

The reasons for people over 35-45 years are interested to me as a teacher. It turns out that many of them not only travel around Greece, but also have bought property there. Most often, the Bulgarian owners of houses or villas in Greece are interested in the north part, which is closer to the border with Bulgaria - around Thessaloniki, Kavalla, Khalkidhiki. It turns out that they are unable to communicate with their neighbours because in most cases the local people do not speak English themselves or prefer to communicate in their own language. The Bulgarians from this group learn the language with great desire and are very consistent. Definitely, their learning of the language is a journey towards themselves.

What about the Greeks, who are learning Bulgarian?

There is interest generally, but the deepening economic crisis led to a decline in the market. I expect this interest to grow in the near future, because in Bulgaria there are still opportunities and market segments in which the enterprising Greeks could find areas for development. In general, the Greeks do not learn the Bulgarian urgently as they communicate successfully in English with their Bulgarian colleagues in the work environment. In other words, they have no need to learn the Bulgarian language for their work and their decision to do it is spontaneous and even emotional.

I would say that they are less motivated, and perhaps that is rooted in their mindset and their understanding of their own language. However, I think that Greece's interests in the Bulgarian language will only grow, mainly due to the increasing exchanges between the two countries. So far, the Greeks, who really want to learn Bulgarian, live here and want to better understand their friends.

For now, mainly large companies with heavy structures represent the Greek business in Bulgaria and their managerial bodies operate between the two countries. I think it is time to attract the small business, which is typical for Greece but is not yet known in Bulgaria.

How does it feel to be the founder of a school and share your knowledge every day, while consciously or unconsciously helping to destroy the prejudices between the two neighbouring cultures?

It may sound like a cliché, but teaching for me today is a dream that has come true. I knew even in the university that I wanted to teach, but you need courage to develop your own business. I saw that there was interest in the Greek language and I knew from the very beginning I had to make a language school specialized only in teaching Greek. In this way, we are able to provide individual or group training in general or special Greek language like business Greek, for children, legal, etc. I admit that it was brave to make Panelinika, but today it is clear that our efforts were not in vain, because we are growing very fast and the interest is great. I am glad that there are so many people who come with great desire and want to know not only the language but also the culture of the neighbouring nation. Some even say they have waited years before their final decision to learn Greek and they have chosen to trust our specialized school.

What would you say to someone who knows nothing about Greece and the Greek culture to draw his or her interest? What are your favourite things in Greece?

It would take a long time. Greece is hiding so many surprises and small wonders, and then less than four hours drive from Sofia. Therefore, it is high time those who have never set foot on Greek soil to start slowly and gradually to get to know it because there is something for everyone. Besides the magnificent Aegean Sea, it has a lovely cuisine, and of course - the songs, the dances, the historical sites. Whatever I say in terms of tourism will not be enough, so the people have to go to Greece and feel it in their hearts.

Tags: SocietyGreek languagePabellinikaLanguage school
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