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Mark Potts - an American in love with Bulgaria’s Shumen

Mark Potts
Photo: entrepreneurship.unwe.bg

"Bulgaria begins here" is how the lyrics of the anthem of the city of Shumen go. Today, we tell you about an American for whom the northeastern Bulgarian city was just the beginning of a full-blown love for Bulgaria that he has preserved for decades.

"Shumen is a part of my heart and I will always come back here for the memories, the people and to see the development of the place," Dr. Mark Potts, member of the Teaching Faculty in the Department of Finance and Law at Central Michigan University and former Assistant Dean of the College of Business and Management at Saginaw Valley State University says. He has a professional interest in agriculture and the development of agriculture around the world and for 15 years he has been involved in the implementation of partnerships with Bulgarian higher education institutions and organizing visits of American students to Bulgaria. It all started after two years spent in Shumen at the beginning of the century, which left a lasting trace in his life. Back then the 22-year-old student Mark arrived from his native Michigan as a Peace Corps volunteer with the task of helping with the development of municipal projects. In perfect Bulgarian language he says his adventurous spirit is a family trait.

“Most likely it comes from my great-grandmother, who is Ukrainian and half of my family are emigrants from Ukraine. It has always been important for me to return to this region of the world and do what I can for a better future for the people here, for peace and development. I have learned a lot from Bulgaria and I am deeply grateful for the cultural experience that your country has provided. From all cultural points of view Bulgaria is very different in comparison to the US. As an example, I think of the jokes and anecdotes Bulgarians use in their everyday life. I tell these jokes to my children and this gives me strength needed to move forward in my personal and professional life. When I am in a bad situation, I always think of these jokes and laugh and I realize that the future can be better. Bulgaria gives me hope," Mark tells us.


These days he sees the completed projects he worked on in the past. "There is street lighting in the evening and it wasn't like that before. The air is cleaner and there is less waste," he says and adds that he does not complain about the past. He says that those years were actually some of the best years in his life thanks to the true friends he found. “The environment here is in tune with human hospitality,” he smiles. All the American students who have visited Bulgaria on his recommendation want to come back again and some have even done it already, the professor tells us.

American students in Shumen, 2011.

"When we meet at the university and talk about Shumen, everyone says how impressed they were by the nature and especially by the Bulgarians."

The memories are the most valuable thing he took from Bulgaria to Michigan.

"I have my memories of the time spent in the Bulgarian villages of Madara, Dibich, Lovets, making homemade brandy with close friends and being a part of Bulgarian culture and traditions. To tell you the truth, I still make homemade yogurt at home every week. In these moments I always have the desire to return to the villages and to Shumen," Mark Potts tells us.

Compiled by: Vesela Krasteva /based on an interview by Katerina Petrova, BNR-Shumen/

English: Al. Markov

Photo: visitshumen.bg, shum.bg

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