28 March, 2023
Interview with a Romanian language teacher about her experiences and impressions of Bulgarian-Romanian cultural interactions and interest in Romanian culture in Bulgaria
The poster of the film “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle” (left – source: Wikipedia) and the cover of the Romanian edition of Vladimir Levchev’s book “Love on the Square” (source: Simona Poclid, Facebook)

Interview with a Romanian language teacher about her experiences and impressions of Bulgarian-Romanian cultural interactions and interest in Romanian culture in Bulgaria

Vladimir Mitev

Paola Georgieva is a graduate in Romanian philology at the Faculty of Classical and New Philology of Sofia University. She holds a master’s degree in translation-editing in Romanian at the Faculty of Slavonic Philology of the same university. She is currently a teacher of Romanian at the Mihai Eminescu High School with teaching in Romanian Language, Sofia. She is also a lecturer in Romanian language at the Department of Romanian Philology of the University of Sofia. She does translation and interpretation services from and into Romanian.

The Bridge of Friendship Blog contacted her after she began a new direction of her Romania-related work – film translations into Bulgarian.

Ms Gheorghieva, recently the Bulgarian National Television broadcasted the Romanian film “If I Want to Whistle, I Whistle” by Florin Șerban. This is your first translation of a Romanian film, but there will be more translations and broadcasts of Romanian films on Bulgarian National Television. To what extent, judging by your own practice as a translator and Romanianist, has the interest in Romania and its culture increased recently in Bulgaria? What attracted you to become a university and high school teacher of Romanian? What can Romanian cinema and literature offer as an experience for Bulgarians?

Yes, I am very happy that Bulgarian National Television broadcast this film. I had already watched it before it was assigned to me as a translation assignment. It is a social film with an impressive cinema play. It was a huge, interesting and meaningful challenge for me, as it was the first time I had ever done such a translation. Thanks to the wonderful translators whom I sincerely admire and from whom I had the good fortune to learn, such as Vanina Bozhikova, Lora Nenkovska, Rumyana L. Stancheva, Vasilka Aleksova, the Bulgarian reader already knows a lot of works translated from Romanian. Romanian culture has its place in Bulgaria. What makes me very happy is that I see a great interest from high school and university students to study Romanian and to get to know Romanian culture and art. Some of our students, after finishing secondary school, go on to higher education, choosing Romanian language courses in Bulgaria or other courses in Romania.

Initially, I was driven by my desire to become a teacher one day. Then I was fascinated by the language itself; a foreign language connects us with foreign cultures, gives us new knowledge in different fields, broadens our horizons. The diversity and richness of Romanian culture and art attracted me and I am glad I chose this professional path. I believe that Romanian cinema and literature are dynamically developing and are appreciated not only in their own country but also internationally. An example of this is the Oscar nomination for the film “Colectiv”. Bulgarian literature and cinema are not inferior in terms of professionalism and value. I believe that the exchange of experience and ideas is essential for cultural relations between the two countries.

You are also a translator of fiction between Bulgarian and Romanian. For example, in collaboration with the Romanian poet Eliza Macadan, you translated Vladimir Levcev’s book “Love in the Square” into Romanian. You have also translated into Bulgarian texts by Romanian authors – such as Mihai-Bogdan Ionescu-Lupeanu. What can you tell us about these translations and their reception by readers? To what extent do younger artists and translators in both countries have the necessary conditions and experience to implement cross-border initiatives? 

The translated texts have found their readers. There is a similarity between the European life of the two countries, we joined the EU together, the religion we practice north and south of the Danube is Orthodox Christianity, at the same time we went through a transition of regime change. Therefore, these are prerequisites for topical and similar themes that are of interest to audiences in both countries. I believe that experience is gained over time, with hard work, perseverance, and a constant desire to improve and acquire new knowledge and skills. The training that students receive in Bulgarian universities is an excellent start and a good basis for further work and development of translators. The more cross-border initiatives are organised, the more opportunities young translators will have to gain experience.

You certainly have your discoveries in the Bulgarian-Romanian area. What do the two peoples misunderstand about each other? 

In my opinion, we are close in terms of territorial location and manners, but far apart in terms of mutual knowledge. At the risk of repeating myself here, I will say that by having more points of contact to exchange experiences, we will get to know each other better.

What are you looking forward to and what do you aspire to in your career as a Romanian, as a teacher and as a translator between Bulgarian and Romanian? Which artists from both countries would you like to come into contact with and draw attention to their work? To what extent can Romanian-Bulgarian relations provide an intense and rewarding intellectual and professional life in Bulgaria?

I would like to continue what I have started professionally. Teaching Romanian, translating and interpreting. I am open to get in touch with any creator in Bulgaria and Romania. When one does what one loves, the work goes smoothly. Working with a foreign language gives me great pleasure. I am constantly learning, which is wonderful. My work is dynamic and varied, which is very important to me and gives me real satisfaction.

Photo: Paola Georgieva (source: Paola Georgieva)

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