The “bible” contains most of the information needed to understand what the series is about: an overall description of the series, main characters defined, episodes outlined, the story arc of the first season. Here is my “mini bible”:
Тhe series showcase the writer’s personal perspective into the experience of those coming to the United States and trying to make the most of their lives, while dealing with the difficulties of money and being so far away from home. The pilot shows the protagonist in his home country leading up to the move to America. The season finale ends with an episode of him arriving in America and it being completely foreign. It shows just a glimpse of the struggles and adjustments that the protagonist is going to have to make in his new life. As the story progresses, it demonstrates the complexities of the protagonist in his natural environment, his ties to his family and community, contrasted with him being a foreigner in a setting where he can’t blend in effortlessly.
The main character is Gogata, a 19-year-old boy from Klisura, a village located in Bulgaria’s Eastern Rila mountains. At the end of his junior year of high school, he applies for the Fulbright Commission’s United States Achievements Program and gets selected as one of the 20 high school students to join the program. This begins his journey of taking the U.S. standardized tests and navigating the U.S. college application process. He receives an acceptance letter telling him he’s been accepted to attend one of the best tech school in the country on a partial scholarship. He still needs to find ways to fundraise the remaining portion of the tuition expenses and room & board.
The other main characters in the series are his family members: Katerina, his mother; Nikola, his dad; Stefan, his brother; Georgi and Stoyanka, his grandparents. Scenes with the protagonist laying down in his grandfather’s bed thinking about the opportunities and challenges ahead of him are gracefully shown. Gogata is facing the dilemma of whether to stay in his home country for one more year, or take the plunge and deep dive into the unknown. There are one of the most touching scenes in the first season.
Other characters in this series are his three best friends: Genadi, Monkata, and Emil. They support him throughout the entire application process; Genadi generously gives the money collected from his family and relatives in honor of his high school graduation for Gogata’s ticket to Boston, Massachusetts. He does not even think twice: they’ve known each other since kindergarten and have stayed best friends since then.
As the protagonist is figuring out how to make his dream come true, his dad remembers that Gogata has a cousin, Kiril, living on the East Coast. They haven’t seen each other for 15 years. Gogata and his parents visit his cousin’s parents and call his cousin via Skype. The two of them reconnect after not having seen each other in so many years.
Additional characters are his high school teachers, the staff from the Fulbright Commission, his high school friends, and relatives.
In parallel with the application process, Gogata actively promotes setting up the successful launch of a WorldTeach program in the region of his high school during the summer of 2009. He provides essential information tools and local knowledge to establish critical institutional partnerships allowing the program’s implementation. To illustrate, he initiates actions to establish a partnership between the municipality and the local Rotary Club. He helps chart letters to request support from these institutions and takes up the responsibility to arrange meetings and represent our common initiative before potential partners. Throughout the episodes, the viewer gets a feeling of Gogata’s degree of result-oriented self-initiative, determination, capacity to fulfill his commitments and leverage his experience and local connections, allowing the expansion of the projects into the schools and foster homes. As a result, Derek and William, two American volunteers come to teach English for two months. What initially starts as just an extracurricular activity ends up with Gogata gaining two lifelong friends who each play an important role later when he arrives in the United States.
Gogata asks them endless questions about the United States: famous quotes, history, cities, and everything else under the sun. This shows his unabashed curiosity, and his strong desire to understand big ideas thoroughly and with complexity. They tell him what they think is positive, as well as negative, about the American culture; he participates in that same debate about his culture. He seeks to expand his mind and better understand his fellowmen. His actively engages in both Bulgarian and American cultures, even before he leaves for America.
Gogata even helps the Americans form a new program during their stay. He helps coordinate with a local orphanage to have their students join them in volunteering there. They go to the orphanage on Gogata’s birthday. Even thought it’s his birthday, he’s there ready to work. This highlights how selfless Gogata is and how willing he is to share. Even on his birthday, he understands the importance of compassion and public service.