January 28, 2005: Letter to the Editor from RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow about the story "According to American Peace Corps Volunteers: This is Bulgaria."

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Bulgaria: Peace Corps Bulgaria: The Peace Corps in Bulgaria: February17, 2005: Special Report: The Peace Corps Calendar and Bulgaria: Tempest in a Teapot?: January 28, 2005: Letter to the Editor from RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow about the story "According to American Peace Corps Volunteers: This is Bulgaria."
Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot? Date: February 17 2005 No: 445 Peace Corps Calendar:Tempest in a Teapot?
Bulgarian writer Ognyan Georgiev has written a story which has made the front page of the newspaper "Telegraf" criticizing the photo selection for his country in the 2005 "Peace Corps Calendar" published by RPCVs of Madison, Wisconsin. RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow, who submitted the photograph for the calendar, has published her reply. Read the stories and leave your comments.

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-21-200.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, February 17, 2005 - 3:44 pm: Edit Post

Letter to the Editor from RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow about the story "According to American Peace Corps Volunteers: This is Bulgaria."

Letter to the Editor  from RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow about  the story According to American Peace Corps Volunteers: This is Bulgaria.

Letter to the Editor from RPCV Betsy Sergeant Snow about the story "According to American Peace Corps Volunteers: This is Bulgaria."

Dear Editor of Telegraph, and Mr. Ognian Georgiev,

I am writing regarding the inane headline: According to American Peace Corps Volunteers, This is Bulgaria. As a former Peace Corps (PC) volunteer, current journalism teacher, and photographer, I find this irresponsible. This was one of a million impressions from one photographer, from two years spent living in Bulgaria. How dare you assume that this sums up the experience for all Peace Corps Volunteers? How ignorant to suggest this is the only image the entire world will see of Bulgaria. (See last year’s PC calendar).

It is worth noting that this very picture has inspired people in the U.S. to ask about a country of which they know nothing. The photographer welcomes this conversation and dialogue, sharing bits of Bulgaria history, but focusing more on the hospitality of the country's people, its breathtaking countryside and unspoiled beauty. In fact, people who see this photo may consider visiting Bulgaria, if only to be lucky enough to experience a festival in honor of St. Dimitar, with people who are in love with their country and its traditions.

It is somewhat coincidental that my high school students and I, in San Francisco, had just discussed the images in the Peace Corps calendar the day before I read the commentary. This picture led them to ask questions and many of them thought about Bulgaria for the first time ever. The pigs in the trunk left them wondering about a place far away, where very real images take them away from their hurried American supermarkets, pre-packaged foods and fast-paced lives. They asked about life there, the teenagers, the people. Ognian made them wonder why anyone would be so silly to assume that one image could persuade or 'stain' so many minds. If a high school student can see why one face should not represent an entire country, nor that a trunk full of pigs would, why can’t Telegraph?

If there is one stain on Bulgaria, it is the voice of Ognian Georgiev, as he is a published writer, with responsibilities he does not fulfill with this reckless piece. As a published writer, he has the power to show people the real Bulgaria, with stories of triumph or celebrations of the human spirit. But he has chosen to focus on the only possible negative outcome of the world seeing this image. Perhaps Ognian would like to see the over 1000 images this one former peace corps volunteer impresses on people when asked about her experience in Bulgaria Perhaps he has never understood whimsy. Perhaps he would be interested to know how many people are drawn to this image, and how this image might draw people to explore or research Bulgaria. An educated person would not leave their decision to visit or discover a country, to one image, and hopefully an educated person would not draw such negative energy from such a photograph. Perhaps Ognian can step outside of his thoughts for a moment to consider why this image might do the opposite of stain a reputation.

As a teacher of journalism, I expect opinions to be well founded rather than angry and insecure. It is sad to see that yellow journalism pervades all countries, not just the United States. I'm sure this headline, along with my photograph, sold newspapers. I would be interested to know what readers thought of the photograph for themselves, before reading Ognian's ridiculous commentary. Finally, to reprint a copyrighted photograph without permission or credit is, if not illegal in Bulgaria, unethical. Ognian's statements along with the actions of Telegraph are the bigger stain that Bulgaria can hopefully wipe clean.


Elizabeth Sergeant Snow

Teacher/Photographer of “Pigs in the Trunk”

Former Peace Corps Volunteer

To see more images of Bulgaria according to ONE... visit www.betsysergeant.com/bulgaria.htm

When this story was posted in February 2005, this was on the front page of PCOL:

The Peace Corps Library Date: February 7 2005 No: 438 The Peace Corps Library
Peace Corps Online is proud to announce that the Peace Corps Library is now available online. With over 30,000 index entries in over 500 categories, this is the largest collection of Peace Corps related reference material in the world. From Acting to Zucchini, you can use the Main Index to find hundreds of stories about RPCVs who have your same interests, who served in your Country of Service, or who serve in your state.

WWII participants became RPCVs Date: February 13 2005 No: 442 WWII participants became RPCVs
Read about two RPCVs who participated in World War II in very different ways long before there was a Peace Corps. Retired Rear Adm. Francis J. Thomas (RPCV Fiji), a decorated hero of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Friday, Jan. 21, 2005 at 100. Mary Smeltzer (RPCV Botswana), 89, followed her Japanese students into WWII internment camps. We honor both RPCVs for their service.

February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories Date: February 12 2005 No: 443 February 12, 2005: This Week's Top Stories
Peter McPherson keeping busy in DC 12 Feb
Martha Ryan wins Award for pre-natal program 12 Feb
John Perkins reveals dark side of U.S. aid 10 Feb
Kathleen DeBold involved in lesbian activism 10 Feb
Jim Doyle to fix Wisconsin deficit without raising taxes 10 Feb
Chris Dodd proposes Class Action Fairness Act 10 Feb
RPCVs create Tsunami Assistance Project for India 9 Feb
Donna Shalala talks about her Peace Corps days 8 Feb
Senator Frist proposes Global Health Corps 8 Feb
Bush's budget to end Perkins loan forgiveness for PCVs 8 Feb
Tom Petri's Direct Loan Reward Act to save $18 billion 8 Feb
Izaak Edvalson helps educate a Doctor 7 Feb
Carol Bellamy condemns Female genital mutilation 7 Feb
Carl Pope criticizes Bush environmental priorities 7 Feb
Mike Tidwell defends wind farms 6 Feb
Kinky Friedman for real? Voters may not care 5 Feb
Bruce Anderson's Newspaper folds amid money woes 5 Feb

Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps Date: February 7 2005 No: 436 Bush's FY06 Budget for the Peace Corps
The White House is proposing $345 Million for the Peace Corps for FY06 - a $27.7 Million (8.7%) increase that would allow at least two new posts and maintain the existing number of volunteers at approximately 7,700. Bush's 2002 proposal to double the Peace Corps to 14,000 volunteers appears to have been forgotten. The proposed budget still needs to be approved by Congress.
RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service Date: January 30 2005 No: 405 RPCVs mobilize support for Countries of Service
RPCV Groups mobilize to support their Countries of Service. Over 200 RPCVS have already applied to the Crisis Corps to provide Tsunami Recovery aid, RPCVs have written a letter urging President Bush and Congress to aid Democracy in Ukraine, and RPCVs are writing NBC about a recent episode of the "West Wing" and asking them to get their facts right about Turkey.
RPCVs contend for Academy Awards  Date: January 31 2005 No: 416 RPCVs contend for Academy Awards
Bolivia RPCV Taylor Hackford's film "Ray" is up for awards in six categories including best picture, best actor and best director. "Autism Is a World" co-produced by Sierra Leone RPCV Douglas Biklen and nominated for best Documentary Short Subject, seeks to increase awareness of developmental disabilities. Colombian film "El Rey," previously in the running for the foreign-language award, includes the urban legend that PCVs teamed up with El Rey to bring cocaine to U.S. soil.
Ask Not Date: January 18 2005 No: 388 Ask Not
As our country prepares for the inauguration of a President, we remember one of the greatest speeches of the 20th century and how his words inspired us. "And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country. My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."
Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion Date: January 8 2005 No: 373 Coleman: Peace Corps mission and expansion
Senator Norm Coleman, Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee that oversees the Peace Corps, says in an op-ed, A chance to show the world America at its best: "Even as that worthy agency mobilizes a "Crisis Corps" of former Peace Corps volunteers to assist with tsunami relief, I believe an opportunity exists to rededicate ourselves to the mission of the Peace Corps and its expansion to touch more and more lives."
RPCVs active in new session of Congress Date: January 8 2005 No: 374 RPCVs active in new session of Congress
In the new session of Congress that begins this week, RPCV Congressman Tom Petri has a proposal to bolster Social Security, Sam Farr supported the objection to the Electoral College count, James Walsh has asked for a waiver to continue heading a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, Chris Shays will no longer be vice chairman of the Budget Committee, and Mike Honda spoke on the floor honoring late Congressman Robert Matsui.
RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid  Date: January 4 2005 No: 366 Latest: RPCVs and Peace Corps provide aid
Peace Corps made an appeal last week to all Thailand RPCV's to consider serving again through the Crisis Corps and more than 30 RPCVs have responded so far. RPCVs: Read what an RPCV-led NGO is doing about the crisis an how one RPCV is headed for Sri Lanka to help a nation he grew to love. Question: Is Crisis Corps going to send RPCVs to India, Indonesia and nine other countries that need help?

Read the stories and leave your comments.

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Story Source: Betsy Sergeant Snow's Web Page

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Bulgaria; Journalism; Criticism



By Colin Gallagher ( on Sunday, February 20, 2005 - 12:02 am: Edit Post


You rock. Great reply.

- Colin Gallagher

By Moriah Hart - Moldova V (cisco-ts6-line165.uoregon.edu - on Friday, February 25, 2005 - 10:34 am: Edit Post

As an RPCV from Moldova I loved the photo, it reminded me of life in Eastern Europe. Great reply!

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