Hello, we are the Batchvarov family and we live in Roslindale. My daughter Dimitra joined BCC’s Choral Union this year; she is in 7th grade at Mission Hill School in Jamaica Plain. We have two cats Bella and Rose. They are a mom and a daughter like us! My name is Velina and I am originally from Bulgaria. Dimitra has been singing literally everywhere and all the time. She sings in the car, on our way to school, she sings to Rose and Bela so they will come close for her to pet them, she also sings a lot in school. We are fortunate her teacher at Mission Hill School recommended BCC to us.
When I was growing up, we used to be a middle class family up until 1989 when Bulgaria peacefully overthrew the communist regime and became a democratic republic after 45 years. Bulgaria is 1,335 years old but only 27 years old in learning how to be a democracy. The first years were brutal for many families and in 1993 when I started college we had a hyperinflation. 1 US Dollar was trading at 3,000 Bulgarian leva (the country’s currency). My family’s savings at the time, equivalent to the cost of a nice apartment in the downtown’s capital were just enough to buy two denim shirts: one for me and one for my brother. When I graduated from college, my classmates and I were not able to find jobs within our majors. While I was working at a rapidly growing construction company, there was little chance for me advancing my career using only my professional skills. So in August 2001, I landed at Logan Airport with two suitcases and $500 that my father had borrowed to attend UMass Boston’s MBA program. Fast forward to now, we have made Boston our home. Although here we have as many problems as the rest of the world, we have the opportunity to thrive and develop into who we want to become.
Boston has been the most inclusive and close-knit community that we have experienced. Young Bulgarian professionals like us with whom we went camping, swimming and skiing formed our first community. We celebrated all the Bulgarian holidays together preparing the traditional dishes that we remembered from our childhood. I started teaching at the Bulgarian School in Boston on Saturdays. That brought us even closer to all the Bulgarian traditions and values, especially the value of education and community. Around the same time we found BPS and the unique gem, the Baldwin Learning Academy and later on, the Mission Hill School. Both schools have taught us the values of inclusion and shared governance, as well as the importance of taking responsibility. In our experience, there hasn’t been a more thoughtful team of teachers, staff, community and parents that has been trying to balance between encouraging children’s love of learning and dealing with their daily reality of social, racial, income, and other types of inequality that create divisiveness and less-humanness. I also never left UMass Boston. Today, I work at the College of Science and Mathematics to support our various Student Success Learning Communities aimed at holistic approach to education. We offer a set of programs to create small size learning communities for students who have the same interests by combining academic goals with social and enrichment opportunities to develop skills for their professional careers. We have found that the communities, and the enriched programming and mentoring, as well as access to resources has doubled they performance to stay on track, graduate on time and have a strong sense of belonging.
We are so fortunate and so proud to have become part of the BCC community. Dimitra is part of Choral Union and already feels very connected to the other singers and the staff. The energy of this place is completely recharging! Saturday mornings have become our highlight for the week. Moreover, Dimitra loves her teacher and when they practice with other choruses. She recently went on the choir retreat. It was hard to get her off the bus at 10:30 pm as she was talking with her new best friends and they were laughing and hugging. On the way home she kept talking about when they got the three groups together how they sounded like angels. The next weekend we got to see the live radio recording “From the Top” with the $5 tickets offered to the BCC families. There was a women’s chorus performing and Dimitra said, “Like this, when we were singing, we sounded like this! Like angels.” What we love most about BCC is that everyone there is very professional. It is much more than music and singing, it is about training for life skills and finding your voice. Dimitra has found a new family and a new home at BCC.
Special thanks to:
Claudia Eliaza, Director of Music Therapy at the Community Music of Boston
Jeremy Harman, Director of the Strings Ensemble at Mission Hill School
Billy Buss, General Music and Choral Director at Mission Hill School
Tanya Haralampieva, Piano Teacher at T&K Music School
Julia Priest, Director of Music Together of Newton