The Wanderer – A Tear and A Smile: Reflections of an Immigrant – Nonfiction, Memoir, Folklore, Social Customs
“A memoir about life as an immigrant both at home and abroad.”
Each person is a constant project: changing and adapting—sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. All our lives we wander to find a better place to live or a better job, to learn new skills, to make a discovery, or to invent something of value.
Today, technology has removed boundaries. We can easily physically travel to different places in the world, but we can also “bounce” around the virtual space of the web, where we make acquaintances worldwide.
In our travels, we build our homes, make new friends, raise our children, attend weddings, and say goodbye to friends and family, sending them to the world beyond. Even thousands of miles from where we were born and raised, we keep our customs and practice the traditions that we have been nourished with. We share them with friends who have a different cultural heritage, upbringing, and faith; and we in turn accept new ones. We must learn to respect other cultures as much as we support people in our own community.
Traditions are a great way to teach children the cultural and religious history of mankind by giving them their own identity and roots.
Culture is a temple for the human soul. This is what we carry with us as we wander, what we develop as we adapt to the place we choose to call our home.
Throughout history, people have traveled, seeking better conditions. A prominent Bulgarian writer, Nikolay Raynov, has said:
“A person is neither good fallen, nor proudly standing.
He is beautiful when he is rising.
Of all the scars in the footsteps of the road I liked only
The wandering steps.”
In this book, I reflect upon my life abroad over the last twenty years as a Bulgarian immigrant. Through life stories and my canvas, I depict how traditions and rituals influence the formation of Bulgarian institutions and communities abroad. Culture is the temple for the soul; these communities help preserve the Bulgarian value system and beliefs. The book also shows the sorrow and the joy in the life of immigrants who are nostalgic for their native land, while at the same time trying to adopt and embrace their new life and surroundings. They want to be accepted and seen as equally valuable citizens in the new, adopted country.
I don’t like the word “immigrants.” I think of people who are searching for a better life as “travelers” or “explorers.” The world evolves and changes because people travel in search of new opportunities to better themselves, apply their ideas, or just for easier living. We are not immigrants; we are discoverers following our longing to explore a new world and more opportunities.
The word “immigrants” is a label created to divide people and foster hatred. In a world without borders, we all are citizens of Earth. Humans are projects; they constantly develop themselves as they search for a better life or new opportunities.
This is why it’s even more important to learn about other cultures, countries, and faith and appreciate our differences. Diversity is a fact; inclusion is a choice.
Culture is about believing. Culture is a temple for the human soul. It’s something we take with us when we wander, and something we develop as we adapt to whatever place we call home.
Praise for The Wanderer
“I loved learning about the customs and superstitions of a culture that is foreign to me, but in many ways, not much different at the end of the day.”
“I haven’t read a book like this one before. I was intrigued as Ii read last night to kill some time when I could not sleep.”
“The chapter on fountains was amazing – I’ve never taken the time to stop and really enjoy them, but I will now!”