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Penka P.

Penka Petkova

by Veska U.

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Name / pseudonym: Penka P.

Gender: Female

Date of birth: 18.01.1948

Place of birth: village of Borisovo, Slivo Pole Municipality, Bulgaria

Place of residence: town of Slivo Pole, Bulgaria

Nationality: Bulgarian

 

Colleague, we have so far participated in many international projects. But this year we are starting a new project - to get to know our neighbors and their cultural heritage, and to enable them to get to know our cultural wealth, too. Mrs. Penka P., can you give us your personal details?

My name is Penka P., I was born on January 18, 1948 in the village of Borisovo, which neighbors the town of Slivo Pole. My childhood was spent entirely in the village of Borisovo.

 

Back in time: What will you tell us about your childhood? What family did you live in? Did you live with  your grandparents? Who looked after you? How many children were there in your family, because back then families had many children?

I grew up in a relatively small family - a father and mother, a grandfather who lived until I was 5 years old (I don’t remember my grandmother because she had died long before I was born) and a sister, 8 years younger than me. Modesty aside, I can say that I took full care of her. Our parents were engaged in farming. They were demanding of everything and always. Of course, hard work was accompanied by rigor and so on until my primary education.

When you finished your primary education and had to continue your studies, did your parents determine your future profession or did they let you decide for yourself what you wanted, what you could do, and what vocation you were eager to pursue ?

When I finished 7th grade, I may not have been brave enough, but it was  my parents who told me to continue the family business, farming. I spent 4 years in an agricultural vocational school, which I definitely do not regret, because the rich information about village life, growing vegetables, fruits and breeding animals was familiar and easy for me. After that, however, they again insisted that I continue my agricultural education, but I got keen on pedagogy, and decided to graduate from the Pedagogical Institute in Ruse. It was easy for me, it was nice, I enjoyed it and I don't regret it.

 

How did your husband's parents take care of you? What was your relationship like? How did they take care of your children?

The relationship between me and my husband’s parents, my father-in-law and mother-in-law, was excellent. I have said many times that she was better than my mother. They took care of my children when they were young. I have two children, born in 1973 and 1977. My parents-in-law raised them almost entirely because I was engaged as a teacher, and as a kindergarten director. I have worked on the pedagogical front for 41 years, ten of which in Slivo Pole.

Penka Petkova
Penka Petkova

How did you see your old age in the past and how does it compare with reality now that you are a woman in your third age? Does your dream from back then coincide with what it is now?

No, they definitely do not match, because the time of my youth was totally different. The relationships between people were different and people had other priorities in their lives, too. Now, at the age of 72, I must say that young people today cannot have the peace of life, the passion for work and creativity like we did in the past.

 

How do you live now? Do any elderly family members live with you? Where are your children? Do you have grandchildren? Are you alone? Tell us briefly about your current life.

My daughter lives separately. I helped her a lot in raising the children. And I continue to help, but not by raising the children because she is a teacher here in the town of Slivo Pole, she teaches Bulgarian in high school and she manages, like me, to mobilize her family. Unlike my daughter, my son lives in Ruse. He has a business and my daughter-in-law has her own business, too. One deals with construction, the other with hairdressing. They are really busy. I have helped them much more in raising their children because their age difference is very big. One of their children is currently a student and the other is in first grade. By the time the younger one started first grade, I was almost entirely on call because of viruses, infections, and epidemics. It all went through me, but I don't regret it. I went to help with pleasure, I worked and raised them. And when my grandson says, “Grandma, I'm like you.”, there's no greater happiness than that.

Penka Petkova

Tell us about your daily life. We know that you have many commitments in the NGO Union of Pensioners. We saw that you run a Skillful Hands Club and you distributed many martenitsas to the children from the kindergarten. Tell us about life in the club.

I have not stopped doing organizational work. But, at the moment, I am most pleased to work as a leader of a folklore group, because we participate in fairs, festivals and singing competitions where I meet different people and cultures of different regions of Bulgaria, with regard to the sound of songs, authentic costumes and so on.

Penka Petkova

You visited the University of the 3rd Age in Galati, Romania and the Union of Pensioners in Braila. Which part of their cultural heritage did you like and plan to apply locally?

The idea to start a Skillful Hands Club came as a result of this visit. I have an affinity for knitting, and there I saw a gorgeous collection of knitted pieces. I want to organize a knitted ware  exhibition here. My work in the pensioner club is very interesting. One positive quality is that we are people of one generation. We have lived in times when people worked in teams and as a result we have formed such moral qualities as tolerance, mutual aid, indulgence, respect, and gratitude. It’s not that today's young people do not have these qualities, but they are not so clearly manifested as they are with us adults. Apart from the club, I have been working for 15 years for the Municipal Pensioner Union. I like the events that the Union organizes.  For example, the planting of poplars was a great experience. And another event I’d like to mention is called Let’s clean Bulgaria in one day, for which we mobilized over hundreds of pensioners. I think we are setting a good example for our young people.

 

That has inspired me too. We are fortunate that you are a member of the Municipal Council and Chairman of the Committee on Education, Social Affairs and Health. How can you, through the municipal council, through the commission, influence the preservation of the cultural heritage of our homeland?

It is a great honor and responsibility for me to be elected as a municipal councilor and as a representative of the 20 pensioner clubs. I discuss with councilors and mayors what needs to be done so that the things that have been started are brought to a successful end, for example, landscaping, rituals, working with retirees. I also have my own ideas, but it is still too early, only a few months have passed since the election of councilors.

 

And what is your idea for involving pensioners in preserving the cultural heritage of our homeland?

Even if I do not guide the attention of the pensioners in this direction, they know how to keep what they have achieved with hard work and wisdom, and I feel the pulse of time through them. They just live with that time and it hurts them when they see a careless attitude towards folk art, folklore and customs, or even some events.

Penka Petkova

And how will you incorporate technology into the lives of the elderly through the Municipal Council?

It will definitely be very difficult, regardless of the fact that the Municipality has a project under which we started computer literacy training in Slivo Pole. But we must approach this problem individually. People who have someone to communicate with need a computer and will respond immediately when they are given a helping hand, but people who are indifferent and the computer does not appeal to them - I can't change them, nor will I try. But, in general, I like that young people have these amenities. We haven't played with construction blocks toys, or with Lego, or with puzzles, and that more or less is a hindrance for us. For example, I visited the children from the preparatory group, whom we met a while ago, and saw how they arrange puzzle games without error, they are so observant. Maybe that's why I regret that we lacked some things in our childhood.

 

What is your message to young people? And what do you think, is their attitude towards us, pensioners, positive, if they see us on TV talking about our contacts, about our participation, about our efforts to preserve our cultural heritage?

I will speak from personal experience. My granddaughters often ask me, “Do you watch TV series or folklore?” Folklore has something to teach you. Their attitude to our activities is positive. I can only say that our children are good. They never criticize me, but approach me playfully, for example, one granddaughter calls me on the phone and says, “I will come to drink coffee with you, but you must be busy dealing with municipal affairs. And I tell her, “No, unlike yesterday, I'm home today. So I have found a very smart approach to communicate with my granddaughters. They are fine young ladies, and that's what I really like about people.

 

 

Thank you for the interview, Ms. P. I thought I knew you very well, but today I learned many interesting things about you, about your children, about your parents and about your work to preserve our cultural heritage, which we will have the opportunity to show to our neighboring peoples.

And I thank you, Mrs. U. One of the goals of the project is to get to know each other and I think that with this interview we have contributed to achieving this goal.