Time Travel By Aglika Ivanova VanHorn


Year 1987
I was spending the summer with my great grandparents. Picking apples from the trees behind their building and building forts with the neighborhood kids, were the two more common things I was involved with while visiting them during my summer vacations.

Some of my favorite memories are collecting elderflower blossoms with my great grandfather from the trees in the area. We would later dry them and turn them into the most aromatic tea I’ve ever tasted. Sitting in the kitchen while my great grandma was making “Mekici” (they are called “Elephant ears” in the US), while listening to Radio Horizont – one of the only two radio stations that existed back then, that either played Bulgarian folklore music or transmissions directly from the parliaments’ sessions.

Year 1997
Sitting in our kitchen, around the dinner table, my parents announced, “We are moving to America!” My teenage world came crashing down on me. All the protesting was useless. I just had to accept it and know that it was for the best. I was still in high school and so in love. I thought the world was going to end when we moved across the planet to live in a city where the four seasons didn’t exist and I wouldn’t have any friends, just my parents and my little sister. Along with my sister, I was one of twelve girls, singing in a small choir that was just starting to get popular and we would get called to sing at various events around Sofia. I was so proud to be a part of it and loved getting together with the other girls once or twice a week to rehearse in a tiny room at the local community center.

Leaving my grandparents, friends and sweethearts behind, we packed up our life and got on the plane to Seattle, WA.

Year 2007
Graduation ceremony at the University of Washington. Our parents and grandparents, along with our future husbands, sitting in the stands with happy and proud looks on their faces, waving at my sister and me while we listened to the commencement ceremony. Everything feels right where it should be.

Year 2011
My dream wedding at the beach, but a cold one because we live in the Pacific Northwest now and the Black sea is too far away. I am getting married, to an American guy, who doesn’t speak Bulgarian along with my grandparents, who don’t speak English. This should be interesting.

A month later a women’s choir is formed – I created a group page online called “Bulgarian Voices of Seattle” just so we can have a place to send each other messages and share information. Just a few women getting together lead by the lovely Mary Sherhart – an American, who will be directing a group of Bulgarian women to sing in their own language. When I share this information with my friends in Bulgaria, everyone is curious how can an American teach, us Bulgarians, how to sing in our native tongue.

Agi & Siana

Year 2012
Koleda (Christmas) concert. I am almost 9 months pregnant with my first child. I walk on stage along with another woman from our choir who is also pregnant. We represent the mothers in the cycle of life, followed by the children and the elderly. At this point, our group of singing women, is a part of a growing community of Bulgarians in a foreign land. There is a children’s choir and dance ensemble, a Bulgarian School, a Cultural center, a Bulgarian theatrical group and many events that are planned with one purpose – to preserve and teach our Bulgarian heritage through dances and songs, traditions and culture to the next generations.

Year 2013
Me and my 5-month old baby girl on stage for another Northwest Folklife Festival. After 9 months of listening to me sing and feeling me dance to the beats of Bulgarian folklore music, she is now in the bright lights herself, watching me and listening to me sing to her and to the audience.

This is why I sing – not only because it gives me joy and brings back memories of the sunny afternoons in my great grandmother’s kitchen, or picking elderflower blossoms for tea with my great grandfather, but because I want my daughter to grow up with the wonderful music of her ancestors.

Songs of Our Families is a project, meant to preserve our Bulgarian heritage and pass it on to the future generations.

Songs of Our Families is for my daughter.

Please support our Project (click on the link)

Permanent link to this article: http://seattle-bg.org/archives/2008