An eye-opening vacation to Bulgaria

By Andrea Boyn

I  rode a thirteen hour flight returning from Bulgaria. Anxious to come home, I walked down the confided hallway, people spilling out. As I emerged from the corridor into the grand SFO terminals, my mood lifted and a wave of happiness filled over me.

No matter where I looked, I was greeted by a friendly face. A face of varying color, ethnicity and background. Each with an individual story and a potential contribution to society.

Along the walls of the SFO airport, were depictions of the pride parade, cultural street fairs, women’s marches, as well as many other images that celebrated and welcomed the Bay Area’s diverse community. I was so proud to feel belonging to such an inclusive place and be able to call it my home.

Although this appreciation was not new founded, because I had not traveled outside of California for three years, I forgot I live in an actual bubble. A place where we are often so sheltered from the harsh reality of differing opinions.

I moved to this melting pot of cultures when I was

Burgas, Bulgaria, much like San Francisco is a sea port town however, their environments and and social norms could not be more different.

only five because my family won the green card lottery. I could not have possibly imagined the extent to which this simple stroke of luck impacted my outlook on society.

So I moved to America at the age of five, leaving my sister and the rest of my family in Bulgaria. Since I am unable to frequently visit my family, I anticipated seeing them and exploring the culture of my origin. Sadly, I was quickly awakened from how I fantasized Bulgaria as a child.

Through conversing with locals as well as my family, I realized that a big part of the common culture is a shared prejudice for others, especially people of color. A definite supremacist nationalism is felt intertwined in the culture as a whole. When I was younger and more naive, I did not notice the trend of references, but now, after gaining more knowledge and experience, I am able to analyze some of my interactions more clearly.

Despite my disappointment, I still love Bulgaria, its culture and its people. I understand that without exposure to other races and cultures, people can unintentionally force ignorance  and fear of the unknown onto themselves.

This is why it is so important for communities to integrate lessons on diversity into educational systems. Through these programs, students can increase their ability to tolerate, and respect others. Abolishing prejudice is not a simple undertaking, nor does it have a simple solution, however, difficulty is not justification for failing to try at all. I believe education is the first step in the right direction.