Sunday, 28 July 2013

Beach library in Albena: now bookworms can have holidays too

EVS volunteers chosing a book.

As I write this I am lying on the beach, skin still damp after a nice swim in the Black Sea. It's summer time, let's face it. Next month, in August, probably half of Bulgaria's population will be going on holidays.

But enough about my hard life now. What I wanted to share is that I have discovered a beach library - a real library with real books located in the open, right behind sunbeds and beach umbrellas in Bulgaria's white-sanded Albena resort, some 30 kilometres away from the 'summer capital' of Varna.

If we believe the enthusiastic promotional materials, Albena's beach library is first one of such kind in the whole EU.
The setup is simple: one long, curvy shelf, stocked from both sides with books and magazines in several European languages, including English, German, Bulgarian, Romanian, French, Spanish, and Russian. There is also a small section called 'other languages' so if you happen to be a speaker of a less represented language you may still be able to find something to dig into.

I have seen plenty of recent fiction to choose from, as well as random books about health, travel and money; gardening, birdwatching and sex; arts albums, self-help guides, and digital photography manuals. There are stories for children as well as encyclopedic-looking volumes of classic French literature.  

View from the resort side. The sea is just behind the books.

The collection is always changing. You can borrow all books for free (only the name of your hotel is asked for reference) - and even keep them if you don't manage to finish them before your holiday ends. In return, readers are offered to donate their own unneeded books to the library.    

Both the library's stand itself and most of its resources still looked fresh at the time of my visit; the baseball-caps-and-shorts-wearing librarians happy and sporty. It is the library's first season of life, and, I believe, it has good hopes for the future. The sharing and reusing ideas are always welcome; and I have witnessed some interested readers. 

The Albena beach library is open between 8.30 AM - 5 PM every day. Unlike to most of other libraries you may go to this one dressed only in a bikini. 

The librarians' office.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Happy birthday, Binar! Cake, balloons and swing in the park

Happy birthday, Binar!

Last week I attended a very special birthday party. Binar, the internet radio of the Bulgarian National Radio was celebrating the first year of life, and they prepared a great party. Well, actually, they celebrated TWO parties, both in the same day. I love birthday parties (no, really) so I expend a great time with them.

The first part was in the BNR building. There were a lot of balloons, country hats, wine and one of the best cakes I’ve tasted in my life. The people who run Binar made their speeches; they cut the cake (yummy!) and the brand Max Factor, one of the sponsors, gave us a birthday present: and small box with make-up and free make up sessions with a pro.

The best cake EVER 
Only with this would be perfect, but they had more surprises for us… Then, we were invited to move to Yuzhen Park and there was the second part of the party. When we arrived there was a surprise waiting for us… a swing party! There was Lilly of the West, a Bulgarian bluegrass and country music band, which played a lot of songs from their new album while three professional pairings of dancers. Really amazing!

So, we expend the rest of the evening listening great music, drinking, and partying with all the people. I met a lot of interesting people, and the grass in the park was perfect for seat and talk with them. I didn’t dance, because sometimes I am a bit shy (ehem), but a lot of people started to dance and was very funny.

Pretty people in the park it’s not only an online radio. There you can find a lot of news about culture, science, society and much more. They have a lot of programs about different topics (only in Bulgarian, I’m afraid) and, of course, you can listen a lot of kinds of music. And all of this in Internet, so you can play videos, see pictures and more..

I really enjoyed this birthday party. Not only for the cake, of course. The people were very friendly, the music was really great and the evening in the park, surrounded of dogs and kids was simply perfect. For my next birthday I want a party like this one!

More info |

Thursday, 18 July 2013

ZIFT (ДЗИФТ): the Socialist Noir

"zift (zĭft) n. mineral pitch, bitumen, asphalt; used as bonding material for road surfacing and, in the past, as streetwise chewing gum. 2.Slang. shit. [Turkish, from Arabic]" 

ZIFT by Vladislav Todorov (the English edition).

Some people just aren't born lucky. Consider life of Moth, the main character of Vladislav Todorov's novel Zift

In 1943, at the age of eighteen, he goes to prison to serve a sentence for a murder he didn't commit. Twenty years later he is released, only to discover that the world as he knew it doesn't exist anymore. It's now 1963, one of the gloomiest times of communist Bulgaria. The whole political system has changed.

Upon leaving the prison, Moth has a vision: to settle in a tropical island and swing in a hammock for the rest of his life. Instead, he finds himself in a reality more suffocating than any prison: that of a totalitarian state.

Right outside the door a bulky soviet Pobeda car (the name means 'victory' in English) awaits; it takes him to Slug, Moth's former gang mate, and the actual killer - now a police officer. Slug has in his interest that (1) the truth about the murder is never revealed; (2) Moth tells him where a precious diamond is. Moreover, Slug sleeps with Moth's beloved Ada, a.k.a. the Mantis - although Moth has yet to find this out, the hard way.

Slug poisons Moth and declares he would be dead by the next morning. Although Moth manages to escape, he is doomed. With Slug plus companions on his heels, body & willpower declining, Moth runs through the night streets of Sofia. He is lonely, injured, being chased; the city of his youth no longer shelters. He can trust no-one, and his lover now plots with his persecutor.

Moth indeed dies the next morning: in a cemetery, at a gravediggers' office, with a pair of misshapen work boots under his head, being looked-after by the deputy-chief gravedigger - perhaps the only genuinely caring person in the whole story. He dies chewing on zift, his default choice of chew (although this last time the reason why Moth wants to munch on zift is a bit different).

Symbolically, the novel takes place during one of the longest nights of the year, that of the 21st of December. Although it does have some comic elements, the novel is gloomy, just like life back in the communist times. Through the story of Moth, we learn about the realities of a totalitarian state.     

After reading the novel, I no longer feel the same as I walk through my current neighbourhood in Sofia. Fragments of the city's recent past seem to be everywhere, and I keep thinking about the events described. Although Zift is a fiction book, it is based on real facts - it is a historical novel. It reminds me of another similarly gloomy book, Vilnius Poker by Ricardas Gavelis, about the soviet times in my home city Vilnius.

I find Zift a valuable book in a way that it tells about the realities of the communist past. A former involuntary soviet* myself, I often notice that certain people in Western Europe find things connected with Eastern Europe's socialist past exotic, adorable. Typically, those are not the most historically aware leftists who easily get hooked on symbolics such as USSR flags & hammer and sickle t-shirts.  

Therefore, I believe, historical novels like Zift are highly needed. More than 20 years have gone now since the end of the Eastern Bloc but there still is a shortage of information about what was happening in that part of the world for a half of the 20th century. We need historical fiction so that the average, lay people become more aware - not just the academics. 

In 2008 a namesake film was released, with the script written by the novel's author Vladislav Todorov. Told in a tough, laconic manner, it immediatelly became cult in Bulgaria, and won numerous awards in local film festivals.

The film is entirely black-and-white, thus giving a first impression (to me, at least) of a TV documentary from the 1960s. I have to say I have not yet had the chance to watch the film, apart from a few random episodes on YouTube.

Below is the trailer. If we excuse the earsplitting soundtrack, Zift does indeed look like a promising movie. Or exotic and/or comical - depends on what you are looking for. 

Zift, the film trailer (2008). Directed by Javor Gardev.

A copy of Vladislav Todorov's Zift (in English) can be found at the library.

* from Lithuania. During the early communist times part of my family - as well as thousands of other Lithuanians, Latvians and Estonians - were banished to Siberia and labour camps for not being 'good' socialist citizens. A historic novel Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys gives an insight into such deportations.   

Review by Agne Drumelyte.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

'Don Carlo', Verdi en el parque

Nuestra entrada al paraíso

Para escribir este post tengo que remontarme al pasado. Poco más de una semana, tampoco os vayáis a creer que voy a hablaros de algo que ocurrió hace un par de años, pero con la cantidad de cosas que hacemos a veces me cuesta un poco saber en qué día vivo. El caso es que el pasado domingo 7 de Julio tuvimos la oportunidad de asistir a la representación de la ópera Don Carlo de Giuseppe Verdi. Todo un lujo que, además, se desarrollaba en el marco único del parque de la academia militar G. S. Rakovski, aquí en Sofia.

La ópera 'Don Carlo' fue compuesta por Verdi basándose en el drama de Schiller Don Carlos, Infante de España. Narra, como podéis adivinar, acontecimientos importantes en la vida del Infante Don Carlos, hijo de Felipe II de España. En concreto, el drama se centra en el amor que Carlos siente por Isabel de Valois, su prometida, pero que acabará casándose con su padre como parte del tratado de paz que puso fin a la guerra italiana entre los Habsburgo y los Valois. El amor de nuestros protagonistas será el principal motor de la historia, aunque no el único, claro.

Verdi nos presenta en 'Don Carlo' un singular juego entre política y religión, entre vencedores y vencidos, entre razón y corazón. La sombría figura del Gran Inquisidor, los terribles castigos de halo religioso y el hambre y la desolación en las tierras de Flandes suponen un magnífico contrapunto a la dramática (por imposible) historia de amor entre Carlos e Isabel. 

'Don Carlo' fue representada por primera vez en la Grand Opera de París el 11 de Marzo de 1867 y os tengo que decir que no fue especialmente bien acogida por el público. Por un lado, Verdi no respetó los estrictos cánones que se imponían a las obras estrenadas en París; por otro lado, el intenso debate que la obra presenta entre religión y política no fue todo del gusto de los críticos y el público. Poco importa eso ya, puesto que 'Don Carlo' es una de las óperas más populares de su autor y una de las más representadas año tras año en teatros de todo el mundo.

Ricardo,  con el escenario ardiendo (literalmente)

Lo cierto es que me encanta la ópera, pero no soy una experta. En absoluto, nada más lejos de la realidad. De hecho, le tuve que preguntar a una amiga (que sabe bastante más que yo del tema) cuales eran las principales diferencias entre un tenor, un barítono y un bajo, además de las obvias, porque a mí estas cosas se me escapan un poco. En cualquier caso, no tener ni idea no me impidió disfrutar muchísimo de una historia que me pilla de cerca.

Y es que, cuando una está tan lejos de casa, no puede evitar emocionarse al oir sobre la historia de tu país. La terrible Inquisición, la opresiva presencia de El Escorial, el dolor del amor entre Isabel y Carlos, la amistad que une a este con Rodrigo... Es hermoso, y os confieso que en un par de ocasiones estuve a punto de llorar de la emoción, porque yo soy de lágrima fácil, y porque, bueno, me sigue pareciendo increíble que se puedan hacer cosas tan bonitas con la música.

Y después de esta magnífica experiencia me estoy planteando comprar un abono para la nueva temporada de ópera porque sé que voy a tener pocas oportunidades como esta. En mi ciudad natal no es que haya precisamente muchas representaciones (aunque me consta que le ponen empeño, ojo) y, en cualquier caso, difícilmente podría compararlas con la sensación de asistir a la Opera de Sofía.

Así que... ¿quién se viene a la ópera conmigo? 

On last July 7th we went to the park of the military academy G. S. Rakovski to see the opera Don Carlo by Giuseppe Verdi. ‘Don Carlo’ narrates the sad story about the impossible love between Don Carlos, Infant of Spain and Isabel de Valois, who was his fiancée but finally gets married with his father, Felipe II, King of Spain.

The opera in the park was an enchanting experience that we really enjoyed. Not only the music or the singers, the entire environment was perfect. Even I’m not an expert; I really like opera so I want to go to all the representations in the new season. Do you like opera? Do you want to come with me? 

Monday, 15 July 2013

NaNoWriMo in Sofia, a creative (and mad) adventure about writing novels

Are you ready, inner writer?

I have to confess that I’m a bit nervous about this project. I think I’m not mad, only nervous. This is the first time that the Sofia City Library is going to host the NaNoWriMo and, well, I really want everything to be perfect.


 The NaNoWriMo project is a great idea for this kind of people who constantly say Oh, I really want to write a novel… one day. Or Oh, I have thinking about this perfect plot for ages, maybe I have to write down… one day. 

Write a novel is quite easy. I’m not talking about a really good novel, a masterpiece. I’m talking about write a complete story, with a beginning, middle and an end. 50000 words of your story. About vampires, princesses, cheerleaders or blacksmiths. About whatever you want to write. 

And, yes, the keyword in the last sentence is WANT.

 NaNoWriMo is a very exciting project about personal goals and craziness about literature. The National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, an overcaffenaited mad man who thought that was possible to write a novel in only one month, the month of November.

 Err… Ok, Chris. Fine. Sure. Whatever.

 Actually, I trust him. Really. It’s possible to write a novel in one month. Maybe not the perfect novel, maybe only the first draft, or only the beginning of your story. But if you want, if you really want, you can write it. It’s not so much. Only 50000 words in a month. Nearly 2000 words per day.

 That’s all. 

I did the NaNo since 2004. Sometimes I reached my goal, sometimes not, but I always enjoyed the process. If writing is part of your life, part of your passion, you have to try, at least once in your lifetime. 

And why not try this next November?

 In the Sofia City Library we are preparing a lot of activities about the NaNoWriMo. Yes, the NaNo is in November what we want to do a lot of things before this crazy adventure starts. We can talk about creative writing, about plots, about how to develop characters and more and more. 

So... Do you want to write a novel… this November? Do you want to join us in this exciting challenge?

 Great! You only have to visit us at the Sofia City Library and ask about madness NaNoWriMo. I would be very glad to hear about your novel. Really. And then, we can procrastinate together, talk about your main characters or plot bunnies. So.Much.Fun. I promise. 

Stay tuned, writers!

More Info |  NaNoWriMo

Sunday, 14 July 2013

From Portugal to Tibet. A walk (out) of love.

I have been observing Marc hanging out in Slaveykov Square opposite our library for a few weeks. He is usually there around lunchtime; sometimes spending time on his own, at other times talking to people; radiating an aura of a long-term traveller; someone coming from a different environment. One day I had to stop and talk to him. 

Marc, the Luxembourgish pilgrim in Sofia.

Marc is currently on his way from Portugal to Tibet. He makes all the journey solely by walking, as promised to himself two years ago. He set off from Algarve, Portugal, in April last year (2012), and expects to reach Tibet at the end of next year (2014) - if all goes without interruptions. He is, however, not in a rush, as life on the road is his way of life now.

Up until his late 40s Marc was living a life of a normal Luxembourgish professional, working at a medical laboratory researching into newborns' thyroid gland functions. He liked the job but not the lifestyle, and certain colleagues, putting questions like what brand of car to buy next as central ones to their lives, were driving him mad: "I think I was never made for a normal life".

He had been dreaming about long journeys since childhood; the work enabled him to travel only a fortnight per year. In 2004, taking off all the unused holidays that he had accummulated during the years, Marc went to Tibet & Nepal. There, he made the "now or never" decision to change his life.

Sold his home, bought a motorbike, travelled the world for the next seven years.

In Morocco he fell in love with a local Arab girl. Her health was declining, she needed a surgery. Marc sold his motorbike to pay for the treatment and made a promise: if the girl recovers he will make a pilgrimage to Tibet. 

He has been walking for 15 months now. Although she has recovered, chances are, he says, he will never see the girl again.   

Although not a religious person himself, Marc says he prefers doing the pilgrimage the traditional way, which means living solely off other people's generosity and donations.

Sometimes he has to go for days on end with empty pockets but still prefers his current way of life to the previous one because "a miracle can happen at any time".  

"In my previous life I had everything that I needed but I was never happy because I couldn't do what I wanted. Now my life is much harder but I really enjoy it, even in a really bad situation".

His current odyssey was partially inspired by a Spanish guy Marc met during the motorbike trips. The only survivor of a ship accident, the Spaniard was walking the world's pilgrimage sites for nine years.  

In order to give his long walk more sense, Marc is trying to raise money for a few charities., according to him, is similar to the international 'Doctors Without Borders' but "smaller and more serious". The one called Earthlink works on removing children labour from manufactories in India and China.

The third one, Braille Without Borders, was established by a blind Dutch girl who travelled to Tibet and created the Tibetan version of the Braille script. The charity tries to empower blind people in developing countries.

Besides the three mentioned above, Marc is fundraising for a few smaller Himalayan foundations - the full list can be seen on his personal website 'MyJourneyToTibet' - as well as the PayPal linkto give a donation to himself.

He claims he might also write a study of people's hospitality in different cultures. 

He doesn't seem to have any insecurities about people in the countries he is about to cross, even if some of those countries currently are not among the most socially stable. Marc's main worries at the moment are about getting the necessary visas.

The Pakistani visa has already been refused so he needs to find an alternative route for that part of the journey. The border between India and Nepal is currently closed - no one can cross it. The Tibetan visa is not the easiest to get either: sometimes the entrance is banned altogether, at other times it may only be possible to enter Tibet as part of an organised group tour.

He has been stuck in Bulgaria for about a month now, waiting for a bank card to arrive. Although he regrets not being able to progress with the journey, he nevertheless enjoys meeting new people. On 26 June he even became a star of the local TV programme BNT Taxi.

Next, the walk should continue through Greece, Turkey, Iran.

The arrival to Tibet will probably be completed with a visit to the holy Mount Kailash, and then six months' work at a Tibetan community in India. "I have no plan at all to go back to Luxembourg. I think I will continue my adventures, or the crazy life, however people call it".

Marc thinks it should be compulsory for everyone to do a year of pilgrimage as part of their education. For example, a year of university could be replaced with a year of such travelling. "That would be a nice, important experience for life. It makes one open-minded, you stop judging other people, get more tolerant". 

The journey can be followed here:

The Facebook page of the journey:

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Bulgaria and Russia: a special relationship

While spending time with Bulgarian and Russian delegates at this year's International Forum I cannot help but think about the special relation between the two countries.

Obviously, both countries are predominantly Slavic, and both share the recent socialist past, but their connections run deeper than that. 

Many Bulgarians will proudly tell you that they gave the Cyrillic alphabet as well as the first Slavic Christian texts to the big cousin, via the Saint brothers Cyril and Methodius.
Monks Cyril and Methodius displaying their masterpiece. Source: Wikipedia.

A thousand years later, Russia - by then one of the world's largest empires - liberated Bulgaria from a nearly 500-years' Ottoman yoke*. This happened during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78.

Surely, the newly-liberated knew how to appreciate this. In many Bulgarian towns multiple monuments in order to honour the Russian army, its generals, and the emperor Alexander II were built.  

Alexander II. Source:

In Sofia alone, there is the Russian Church, the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, the Russian Monument (Ruski Pametnik), and the Monument to the Tzar Liberator high on a horse   - all initiated at the turn of the 20th century.

Even if nowadays some Bulgarians say they have been deeply disappointed by the recent experiences as part of the Communist Block, the monuments in their cities and some historic sentiments still remain.

* the dramatic word 'yoke' is a favoured phrase by many Bulgarians to describe the times when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire. The phrase potentially originates from Ivan Vazov's novel Under the Yoke - one of the great classics of Bulgarian literature. Bulgarian children spend long months at school reading and analysing the novel.        

It's a yoke.

Monday, 8 July 2013

The International Forum: fortifying the positions of the Russian language and culture

The Russkiy Mir Foundation is a Russian governmental organisation dedicated to promoting the Russian language and culture around the world. The Foundation has working Russian Centres in multiple countries, including one at the Sofia City Library.

On 6-10 July 2013 the library's Russian Centre runs a conference called the International Forum. Aimed at Russian-speaking teachers and university lecturers, the conference includes lecture days as well as visits to Bulgaria's tourist attractions.

The opening of the conference.

This year's conference has got around 130 participants, mostly from Bulgaria and Russia, although a few people from other countries, e.g. Kazachstan, Estonia, Turkey, are also present. We helped the library, our current employer, to set up the opening of the conference and, along with the guests, visited a few tourist attractions.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Five hours on the train, worth it: Going to Plovdiv

The Roman theatre of Plovdiv, now nearly two thousand years old, and still hosting performances.
Doing an EVS often includes a fair share of travelling. We have joined fellow volunteers from the Sofian SMART Foundation for a day trip to Plovdiv.

Plovdiv, Bulgaria's second largest city and one of the most culturally important, surely cannot be all seen in one day but, as it was the first visit for most of us, it has been a nice introduction.

There is a big size difference between Bulgaria's capital Sofia and the next major cities, the former being at least 3.5 times larger in population than Plovdiv & Varna, and six times larger than Bourgas.

As one can expect, Plovdiv has got a more relaxed vibe than the busy capital, and feels green and refined like a typical university town. Rumours say, it also has got a nightlife of a typical university town, although this time we were unable to check it.

The city has got a significant population of cats, looked after by the locals collectively.

Plovdiv is among the oldest cities of Europe, being continuously inhabited since at least 4000 BC. Originally established by the Thracians, it later became known as the Roman city of Philipopolis. There are some remaining ruins from both Thracian and Roman eras in Plovdiv, as well as treasures in the city's Arhaeological Museum.   

Finally, Plovdiv's old town is also a good place to go and appreciate the so-called Bulgarian National Revival architeture of the nineteenth century, see a couple of my photos below.  

Thursday, 4 July 2013

'Zen in the Art of Writing', Ray Bradbury gives us a masterclass

A great way to start the day

I have to confess that I really love Ray Bradbury. Yes, is one of my favorite authors so maybe love blinds me while I writing this book review. If you like this author, you'll love this book. If you like to write yourself, you'll love this book, too. Even if you don't write so much or you never read Bradbury, you'll like this book.

And the reason is so simple. Ray Bradbury puts his passion in his writing. He loves ghosts, he loves circuses, he loves dinosaurs, he loves Mars, he loves to write. And, of course, he loves to write about the things he loves.

Makes sense, but it's not as common as it seems. Not every author prefers to follow their own path, as it's for this reason that this reading is so valuable. In eleven essays, Bradbury told us about the pleasures of writing. His enthusiasm has no limits, he lives for writing, for enjoy, for celebrate, and all about writing.

He gives us one of the most important advices I've ever read in my life: enjoy your creation. Enjoy, don't think, write. Write about the things you like and everything would be good.

If you do, I think you might easily find a new definition for work
And the word is LOVE.

In these essays, Ray Bradbury write about his passion for the writing, but also about the power of the inner memories, his likes and dislikes and how he become a writer. Of course, we can read a lot about his most famous works like Dandelion Wine, Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles and even the play script he wrote for John Houston's Moby Dick. 

All during my early twenties I had the following schedule. On Monday morning I wrote the first draft of a new story. On Tuesday I did a second draft. On Wednesday a third. On Thursday a fourth. On Friday a fifth. And on Saturday at noon I mailed out the sixth and final draft to New York. Sunday? I thought about all the wild ideas scrambling for my attention, waiting under the attic lid, confident at last that, because of 'The lake', I would soon let them out. 

If you ever thought about creative writing I encourage you to read this book.  It's not a proper manual about writing, its better. If you need a bit push to sit down yourself and start to write (maybe for the Camp Nanowrimo? ;p) read it. His enthusiasm is contagious and when you finish you'll be burning in desire to write. A novel, a short story, a script, even a list of things to do. Whatever, but you'll be writing with hope and passion.

I promise you.

Remember you can read this book from the American Corner of the Sofia City Library. You only have to visit us and will be very glad of recommend you a lot of more books about your favorite topic. And, of course, I will recommend you ALL the books of Ray Bradbury. Because I love him, you know...

Joshua Odell Editions
Collection: Essays on Creativity
ISBN: 9781877741098
176 pages

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Do you want to write a novel...right now?

Camp NaNoWriMo, where everything is possible. Literally.

Maybe you are this kind of people. You know, the kind who is always planning and talking about write a novel... some day. But now you have the chance of write a novel in a month. In this month.

Really. Trust me.

Is not magic. It's passion. Love. Madness. It's Camp NaNoWriMo

Camp NaNoWriMo is a quest to write a novel in a month's time. That's all. You only have to write, and write more. And then, write a bit more. So easy. Well, maybe it's not so easy but you only have to enter in the website, choose a word goal and start to write. Don't worry about corrections now. In the next month, or maybe in the next year, you can correct all your mistakes, but in this moment you only have to write. Really.

Sit down. Write down.

It's crazy, I know, but there’s so much fun and noveling is like a kind of magic. And you have this magic in your hands right now so don't waste it! Maybe you are afraid. I understand you. It's difficult to start to write but when you decide to do, it's wonderful! Don't miss it!

Of course, I'm enrolled as well in this Camp NaNoWriMo. I set my goal on 20.000 words for this month and for the moment I haven't write any word. Nothing. It's a shame for me, but don't worry. I'll reach my goal for sure. I only have to write, ehem. 

Do you wanna do this crazy thing with me? It would be great! We'll can cry at the same time, you know, and blame everything in our characters, and talk about plots and the essence of the divinity... Just let me know... If you are interested in creative writing, stay tuned! This is the first time that Sofia City Library is hosting the NaNoWriMo adventure and in the beginning of September we are preparing a lot of projects about this so I will very happy to hear about you. Come to our library and ask us! We are ready to encourage you to start the most amazing chance in your life.

And now, it's time to write. Are you ready?

More info | Camp NaNoWriMo

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Why people do good things?

Bulgarian researcher Hristo Hristov is trying to find out about the reasons and motivations that make people do charity work. The research is part of his PhD thesis at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and is likely to grow into something more.

He has been working on this project for a few years now and has been looking for altruistic people from different countries to share their motivations with him. 

You may be an EVS volunteer, a charity worker, staff at an NGO, a philanthropist, or simply someone who every now and again gives a few coins to a poor person in the street. You may be doing your good deeds to the society or to the mother nature. 

You might be one of those people who look after abandoned pets at an animal shelter or helping out at a hospital. If at any point of your life you have tried to reduce the injustice and suffering in this world, Mr Hristov wants to hear your opinions. 

Equally, if you are a scientist in a similar field yourself, you are welcome to contact him for collaboration.

Unfortunately, Mr Hristov does not yet have a website dedicated to his research, but if you send him an email expressing your interest he will email you back with the link to the online questionnaire. Alternatively, you can get the paper version of the form sent to you. The questionnaire is available in nine major European languages. 

Doing the questionnaire with Mr Hristov (right).