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Maria Petkova and her story about path to family roots and freedom found in…Parvomay

Photo: личен архив

On May 1 we visit the Bulgarian town of Parvomay. The oldest historical document mentioning the settlement dates back to 1576. This southern Bulgarian town is home to a bit more than 12,000 people who have two reasons to celebrate. Labor Day is the city holiday and also marks the beginning of the traditional "May Cultural Celebrations".

Recently, towns like Parvomay have become attractive for families from major cities, who are looking for calmness and more space for their children. This has become possible because of the pandemic that brought the need to work or study from a distance.

That's how at the beginning of the Covid pandemic the family from Sofia moved away from the stress in the big city and went to Parvomay. Together with her husband and two children, artist Maria Petkova started living in an old family house as she was driven by the desire to provide a safe place and more carefree time for her children.

"I lived in Sofia for a long time and there were moments when I told myself that I need to leave the city. Life in the capital is extremely fast-paced and this inevitably affects people. My children were born in the big city but I wanted them to be able to run free, to play with the dog in the yard, to chase frogs, to look at fireflies in the dark without me worrying where they are and what they do.”

The artist moved her studio and drawing school for children to Parvomay, where she found many children interested in art. According to Maria, education in aesthetics and creating the feeling of freedom through art should start in early childhood.

"I try to give the best of myself to my students. At first I started working with a few children in the city, but then more gathered and showed interest in the various events that I organize including workshops for children and parents. My children and husband sing traditional folk songs and we have been trying to create a small cultural environment that anyone can join. I believe that this is very useful when it comes to preserving ourselves as human beings. I have a great need for cultural environment in order to feel complete. Working with children gives me true inspiration.”

Online communication has made it possible for Maria and her family to migrate from the capital to the smaller town, but are new technologies useful for children's creativity? "It would be best if we could stick only to the beneficial side of computer technology," the artist, who has rich pedagogical experience says.

04/26/22 Maria Petkova2:

“Technology should be approached carefully. There is no way to escape from cyberspace, which today's world communicates in, but we must consciously strive to preserve traditions, to be close to nature and stay true to our souls.

Maria's family will stay in Parvomay during the summer, but in the autumn they will probably take a trip back to Sofia, mostly because quality of high-school education in many of the small Bulgarian towns is still lagging behind.

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: private library, parvomai.bg, parvomay1.sonikstart.eu,
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