A successful story of Kiril Kirkov, a Bulgarian with Green Card in the USA:
Last winter a friend of mine from Pennsylvania told me “Why don’t you try FAFSA? You always wanted to go back to school. Do it!” So I did and that was probably the best decision in my life. Now I am a full-time student at Coconino Community College, my major is sociocultural anthropology. The College has hired me as a federal work study and I work in the system of the Multimedia support.
This is a brand new perspective to me. Thanks to the US Government I have the chance to get educated and to find my way to better future.
But why did I choose anthropology? Let me share few words about my past. I have been Bulgarian folklore dancer since my age of four. As a soloist of the Ensemble ”Shopski” I have been performing in many countries in Europe and Asia. This career gave me the chance to communicate with people from around the planet, to explore different cultures and tradition, and to share my own heritage. Later I become choreographer and a High School dance teacher. I do love working with children.
During the 1990s the reality in Bulgaria has changed. The Cold War was over, but the communists never left. Instead of democracy, we experienced post socialism, huge corruption and terrible organized crime development. It wasn’t possible to me to take care of my family being an artist and I had to switch to different jobs. But I had a need to practice art. In 2006 I joined a one-year online nature photography class, issued by betterphoto.com. My teachers were world known masters, like William Neill, Jim Zuckerman, Kevin Moss, and Lewis Kemper.
In 2008 I moved to the United States with a green card. I spent four years at the Grand Canyon National Park, working at the local general store. During this period I was a photo journalist for “Bulgaria” newspaper in Chicago, I developed my photography website ( www.kirilkirkovphotography.com), I am published in every Grand Canyon calendar from 2010 until 2015. In 2010 my photograph won the Arizona Game&Fish Department photo contest and it’s on the cover of their magazine and calendar.
I went to College this June, and my first idea was to study Electronic Media and Film. But after taking a Cultural Applied Anthropology class, I realized that this is my area of interest. This scientific field is the best place to combine my visual skills and my background as a folklore artist. I have full support from CCC and also from the NAU Anthropology Department.
Last week I had meeting with Dr. Walter Vannetti, master’s programs coordinator at NAU. I shared with him my ideas about a cross-cultural anthropology research comparing the folklore traditions of the Navajo nation and Bulgaria. Dr. Vannetti told me that I will have full support from the NAU anthropology department on my way to become NAU Visual Anthropology researcher.
“You have to go through all the classes until reaching master’s level, but start with your research as soon as you can,” he said, “go in the field, make documentaries, photography collections, and interview craftsmen. Collect data, and when the time comes, we will be happy to help you to organize everything, and to present your research before the Department.”
The next day I had appointment with Dr. Edith Copley, Regent’s Professor and Conductor at NAU. The University Choir “Shrine of the Ages” is going on tour to Bulgaria next spring. Dr. Copley invited me to their rehearsal. The Choir studies the Bulgarian folklore song “Sednalo e Djore Dos.” I helped to improve the text and the right pronunciation of the words. Then Dr. Copley asked me to show some folklore steps, and after few minutes we built wonderful Bulgarian led dance on the stage. This was an amazing cross-cultural experience, and all of us really enjoyed it.
After the rehearsal Dr. Copley introduced me to Dr. Todd Sullivan, Director of School of Music at NAU College of Arts and Letters. Dr. Sullivan wants me to present a Bulgarian Folklore Workshop proposal. If the students like the subject, there is a chance me to teach a Bulgarian credit class at NAU.
To me, America is the right place to be. I have ideas, I work hard, I want to reach anthropology career, and I receive all the necessary support from the society and the Academia. In March next year I will become a United States Citizen and this country will have another patriot.