Monday, June 13, 2011

TED Talks and Mean Streets

Misha Glenny, the BBC journalist and historian on Southeastern Europe, has a video talk about globalization and organized crime on TED. By the way, this is an awesome website where you can watch free videos on thousands of subjects like social media and democracy, creativity and reforming the educational system (among others). A recent post on Balkan Leaks, which publicizes government documents to promote transparency and combat corruption, features a scathing report by the American Embassy that portrays Sofia as a hotbed of organized crime, a corrupt judicial system, and a general lack of infrastructure such as well-maintained roads. While I don't think the picture painted is quite so bleak, it does point out some glaring problems that Bulgaria must deal with in order to achieve economic recovery. The video (below) puts into focus the rise of globalized illegal markets after 1989 and how their success is directly related to Western consumerism.

It also puts my life right now into perspective, as I am living in a former socialist country grappling with some severe economic and political troubles. My presence here is entirely thanks to globalization and the funding of the U.S. government, along with the America for Bulgaria Foundation. I know that part of the attraction living here for me are the rapid changes taking place, especially in Sofia. While I try to pinpoint just exactly what makes me want to pursue a career here (or in the region), I am continually reminded of how lucky I am to be able to share my culture and teach my native language abroad. I hope that I can return in kind the generosity I've received here through sharing my experiences back home and showing people the beautiful, energetic  and positive side of this country: one that contradicts the one-sided, more cynical narrative that we all too often hear.  

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