I travelled to Sofia on June 28th, 2009 to greet the U.S. volunteers who were going to be teaching English in the summer. I remember I arrived with Bulgarian rose oil for each of them. After a week of orientation, they were ready to travel to their placements, and that is when I met Derek and William for the first time.
They were going to be teaching at the Math high school in the town of Pazardzhik, their home for the next two months. They knew no one and spoke not a word of Bulgarian.
Derek was a New York Yankees fan; William was a Boston Red Sox. They quickly brought me up to speed on the rivalry. Despite their differences, they ended up forming a great team together.
During our trip to Pazardzhik, I was asking them endless questions about the United States: famous quotes, history, cities, and everything else under the sun. They told me what they thought was positive, as well as negative, about their culture. I participated in that same debate about mine.
For two months, they became the local superheroes. They were on the local TV and in the newspaper! They even met the mayor!
Their experience was so inspiring that upon returning to America, they continued supporting the development of Bulgarian youth from afar. More about that later.