04 Aug An Hour at the Mission of Bulgaria
*Another in UFI’s series of blog posts from the young adults attending the UN High Level Meeting on Youth
By Niels Wankier
Having lived in the country of Bulgaria for two years as a service missionary for my church, I had hoped to be able to use my language skills and knowledge of the Bulgarian people to get a chance to speak with the Bulgarian delegates at the recent UN Youth Conference. Participating in the UN conference was a great experience and it was amazing to see people from so many different countries around the world all gathered in one location.
It became clear on our second day at the conference however, that it would be near impossible to get in contact with the Bulgarian delegates. Hoping to get the chance to speak with them, we emailed their mission requesting a chance to speak with a member of their mission and more exactly a member of the third committee which is over social issues and thus mostly involved in the issues of United Families International. After no response for some time we decided to go directly to their mission and see if we could just talk with them. I was accompanied by Marcia Barlow who was the UFI representative leading our youth group. We hoped to present the Bulgarian mission with a small gift, to speak with them about our position, and to get a feel for their views on the important issues of family and life.
Upon arriving at the Bulgarian mission we rang their doorbell intercom to which I was greeted by the common Bulgarian greeting Добър ден! I introduced ourselves in Bulgarian and explained the purpose of our visit and the desire to speak with a member of their mission. We were told to wait and after a couple minutes the door opened and we were greeted by a very kind Bulgarian woman who showed us into a beautiful dining hall. Since no one from the 3rd committee was present we spoke with a lady over the 4th committee and the gentleman over the 5th committee.
I was able to use my language skills to speak with them for a brief period about my time in Bulgaria and the things I was involved with there to which they seemed very impressed and interested that an American youth would take the time to learn their language and spend so much time in their country. After a brief discussion in Bulgarian I turned the time over to Marcia to present our gift and to speak more about United Families International. Our gift was a UN Negotiating Guide put together by UFI containing the most widely used UN documents carefully indexed for all things family and pro-life related. They immediately seemed interested and began discussing some of the issues with us. It was neat to hear the things they were saying and to talk more about our position.
They seemed very in line with our position from a personal stand point but did not disclose much about Bulgaria as a whole. We also discussed some of the most pressing issues for Bulgaria today which for them dealt mainly with emigration. Despite large numbers of emigration from their country however, they explained that one measure of the strength of Bulgarian families is that those family members that do emigrate are very consistent at sending money back to their families in Bulgaria even after having left Bulgaria for several years. We also were able to just visit and learn some of Bulgaria’s history which was both informative and very interesting.
We spent about 50 minutes speaking with these very kind Bulgarians. We parted as friends and with the hope for future interactions. For me it was one of the most fulfilling experiences of my UN trip and hopefully will be the beginning of more positive exchanges between United Families International and the country of Bulgaria.