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Young Bulgarians: Our hopes for a brighter future
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Young Bulgarians have strong views about their country. Whilst their love for their homeland is strong, they feel that their government fails them and that the European Union will be their saviour. As they consider their future careers, they hope that EU membership will lead to higher salaries and better jobs – and if it doesn’t they are prepared to consider emigrating to find work.

Stella’s Goals

Steliana Jekova is 17 and lives with her family in the coastal village of Kichevo. Steliana currently attends the Asen Zlatajov School for Tourism in Varna.

Steliana believes Bulgaria is a good and bad place to live, “Bulgaria is good because my family and friends are here, the weather beautiful and I have a beach close to my home.” She condemns Bulgaria for not providing work for people and adds, “If you find work, you work for very little money.” She also takes exception at the driving laws here because you can’t drive until you are 18 years of age.

Steliana believes the EU is a positive factor for the country, “the EU makes it easier to travel around Europe and find work with no forms or visas to fill in.” Steliana also feels that the EU will bring more work to the country and therefore more money, particularly with increased tourism. Steliana wants the EU to change the laws involving cars, allowing people to drive at 17.

For the future in Bulgaria, she wants work to become available for the workers and their wages to rise, ‘this would stop people having to leave their families to go work and earn money.’

Steliana is firm about her future goals. She expects to use her vocational training to become head chef in a hotel, “I love food, I want to find a hotel in Bulgaria first, but if not I will go abroad. I want to earn earning around 1,000 lv a month.” Steliana thinks that this is a realistic goal because when she leaves school in four years, she believes that the EU will be well established in Bulgaria and will bring much needed investment into the country.

Zoran’s Dreams

Zoran Kirilov Gaeov is a 17-year old teenager from the village of Rogachevo. He is in his final year at Hristo Sminienski School in the neighbouring village, Obrochishte.

Zoran loves Bulgaria and its laid back attitude. He also adores Albena beach, which lies 5km from where he lives. However, he feels his country lets its people down because of the corruption present in the system, “there is no money in the country because people at the top put it all in their pockets. My teacher has a class of 30 students and she only gets 300lv a month, because people take it from her at the top.”He would like to see the Bulgarian government removed from power and the country run solely by the European Union. He feels that the EU would provide a fairer system without corruption. At the moment, he shares Steliana’s beliefs about the lack of decent job opportunities. He says, “you can’t earn a lot of money here and for those who can’t afford to go to university, this is not fair.’

Zoran echoes that the EU is a positive move for Bulgaria as it will stop corruption. He also says, “It will bring countries together with Bulgaria like England, France and Germany and create more work for the ordinary person.”

Whilst Zoran only has a year left at school, his future is uncertain; university is not a feasible option, but he wants a job where the money is good and gives him enough free time to relax and have some fun. He is currently considering work in the tourist industry in Albena.

Mimi’s Hopes

Margarita Ilkova Ilieva is one of Zoran’s classmates and lives in the same village.

Margarita loves the atmosphere of Bulgaria, “everything is beautiful, the weather and Albena Beach.” However she believes that life in Bulgaria for a young woman like herself is not good, “to be a working girl is bad as workers work for very little money here and everything is too expensive from food through to clothes.” Sharing the views of her contemporaries, she feels there are no opportunities for workers to earn enough money to live comfortably with their families, yet she maintains that life for a rich person in Bulgaria is completely different.

Margarita is unsure as to the benefits of EU membership, “Yes, the EU will bring more money into the country but also it will bring more regulations and laws which could make workers life even more difficult, only time will tell.” Her hopes are that somehow Bulgaria’s workers will be given the opportunity to work for more money and thus enjoy a better life.

Margarita hopes to go to Varna University next year but she is undecided about what to study. All she knows is that when she finishes her education, she wants to earn enough money to support her family. She says, “If moving abroad is what is necessary then I will do it.”

Vesko’s Ambitions

Veselin Todorov is 16 and lives in the village of Aksakovo. He currently attends the Kliment Ohvidski School, where he studies computer design programmes.

Veselin believes that, “Bulgaria has its good points and it bad points just like any other country.” He enjoys the nature in Bulgaria, the beach and some of its people. He adds, “Some people can be arrogant and think they are the best at everything, I don’t like these people.” Veselin hates the government for the same reasons as Zoran; it allows corruption in Bulgaria, which takes money away from the people who really need it.

Veselin maintains that the EU is good for the country, “EU laws are much better, for example the corruption in the other EU countries is none existent.” He thinks that the EU will bring more money, more jobs and a better life for the people of Bulgaria and that it will only take about 2 to 3 more years for EU to get on its feet, and take action against the laws that need changing like corruption.

Veselin holds Germany up as a shining example of a good country and would like to see Bulgaria become like this, although he feels this may be something of an impossible dream, again because of the corruption that dogs the system. He wants to see more work and money coming in to Bulgaria –“not into the government’s pockets.”

Veselin is also very clear about his own future. He has three years left at his present school and anticipates spending a further five years at university. When his education is completed, he will gain experience working for a company who specializes in his field and the n he will start his own computer design business. Like Mimi, Veselin wants to earn enough money to support his family and live comfortably, preferably in Varna, but he admits, “If the work is elsewhere then I will go where the work is.

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