Sofia is a fascinating place, seen through the eyes of a foreigner that has come to live here. A young and intelligent lady from Germany has arrived to the capital to teach German to students for a while. This country has revealed to her its most attractive side and so she has decided to stay, in order to learn the language and the customs of the Bulgarians. So, for 6 years now Wiebke Beiche from Northern Germany has been living and working in Sofia. She has been mostly involved in the activities of her own foundation, established with the purpose of helping talented artists from different generations. She grants access to her artistic atelier to many artists, actors and musicians who are not allowed into the big theatres in Sofia. One of the latest initiatives of The Art Foundation is going to be a festival of street musicians that our city hasn’t seen so far. Wiebke says that her organization is a bridge between generations in the Sofia cultural space. “Older actors that can’t be seen in big theatres anymore work with us – for instance, Lyubomir Bachvarov and Emilia Radeva,” Wiebke Beiche says and adds:
“Really young actors come here as well, in order to learn from the older generation. Thus they go together through the life of an actor – the person that devotes it entirely to art. Our attitude towards the audience is very intimate as well – actors meet with fans after the show too. Anyone can talk with those on stage without any distance. I do thank actor Svetoslav Knezovski for the lack of kitsch in our program. We do not compromise with the aesthetic level of the guest actors, as we have aimed at the good taste of the audience in regard to art.”
“The most important thing for learning the language of another country and for starting to live there is to fall in love with that country first. Love creates miracles,” Wiebke Beiche is convinced:
“When you can visualize your future in a certain country then you are more willing to learn and adapt to local lifestyle. I began to study Russian and when I graduated Slavonic studies at the university I already had many Bulgarian friends. Especially in Dresden – there is this big Bulgarian community there. We made friends with some of these people and that was how I learnt several Bulgarian words. I had studied in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Poland before that. However, my first job was actually in Bulgaria. My expectations were that the situation would be the same here – that there was no such significant difference between the Eastern European countries. Upon my arrival I was surprised to find out how West European the outlook was actually here. The difference is that Bulgaria is situated more to the South and people are more temperamental. I was impressed by the common features that you have with us, the Germans. So, I gradually fell in love with this country. When I first came here, I used to live in the house of a very good old lady by the name of Gretty – a former opera singer. I had been told that she spoke Russian and there would be no communication issues. However, it turned out that the lady actually spoke French. So, I had to learn Bulgarian very quickly. I was on a scholarship back then and I didn’t have to work 12 hours per day. During our free time we toured around Sofia together, sightseeing. She took me to the so-called Lady’s Market, the Mineral Springs, across the parks… She showed me a lot and told me a lot about Sofia. There is this other moment – being a German teacher, I expect a really good German from my students, but the same thing counts for me as well. Any foreigner must try to adapt to the receiving country and the language is compulsory. When you decide to stay, you can’t avoid locals. I prefer being surrounded by Bulgarians, as I learn more via this communication about their culture and traditions. Germany is a country where traditions are no longer honored and I think this is due to our history. I don’t see the same with Bulgarians – they are proud of their traditions, stick to those and don’t mind stating that they are Bulgarians.
English version: Zhivko Stanchev