Avalon again 2005

Avalon again 2005

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Unfortunately, the WOW training programme has come to an end and all of us do not see each other as much as we used to. Yesterday, I had the chance to see both Susans and Maina at the interview at Brunswick. The interview went really well and I wish good luck to all my friends and colleagues with finding internships and good jobs.
In fact, since the training programme has finished, I have had mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am looking forward towards finding a good internship that might lead me to my desired career. In this regard, I think that very soon I will be faced with a great challenge and I am anticipating some positive results.
Yet, at the same time, I feel a little bit sad, because I am not seeing my friends every day as I used to. Unfortunately, life presupposes immediate changes to which you need to get used to and in most of the cases this is a difficult and painful transition. Personally, I feel as if part of me has died and I am not aware of whether the future would seem that bright for me.
In fact, I have always believed that social relationships define the course and formation of your personal identity and they help you understand yourself better. Participating in group activities and doing various exercises help you establish relationships with other people and in such a way they also help you understand what you could do together, what you could achieve together (as a team) and how as an individual you can contribute to the whole team. In other words, team-work and collective exercises help you understand essentially what you are capable of doing for yourself and for the other person.
And in fact, this has been the experience that I have been used to for this one month of intensive training. For me, this has been a route of self-rediscovery and self-transformation and through the interaction and communication with my team-members I have largely realised who I am, what I am capable of doing and where I am going. Thus, I have to say that all of my colleagues and friends have contributed to me finding a real sense and purpose in my own life. And for that, I am extremely grateful! That is why I will never forget you, guys!
However, thinking about the future is yet a painful feeling! I feel as if I have been driven between two extremes: my mind tells me that I will find a good job and I know that this would be a good thing; at the same time, my heart brings me back to my memories with my friends. Thus, I realise how much I miss them and how lonely I would feel again once we do not see each other. I keep asking myself the same questions: How could I be useful for my team again?; How could I give and show love and care to them if I do not see them?
And yet, I feel that the constraints of time, distance and personal engagements are very often difficult to overcome. As a result, people need to get used to the idea that time and distance separates people and those physical constraints accompany people constantly throughout their lives. And this thought and feeling scares me and I feel as if I am losing something that has largely become part of me.
Nevertheless, I believe one cannot blame life and nature for doing those things to you. Essentially, this is part of life!
Perhaps, we (our team) should start thinking of how we can keep this spirit alive and think about different ways of how we can maintain and even develop further the friendships and relationships that we have already developed. As Lesley pointed out earlier, this has been just the beginning!
And I believe this is how we should start thinking of ourselves-the 2007 WOW team: as if we are at the threshold of a new great initiative or project that we could together in the future; at the threshold of a new challenge or test in the treasure of life. Thomas suggested we should write a book about our experiences in the 2007 WOW training programme; Susan suggested that we should start a book-club and keep our discussions and spirit alive. And these are indeed great ideas!
However, I believe that we could be even more creative than that and extend the range of activities that could bring us back together as a team, back together as who we are TOGETHER. I really hope so and I am looking forward to see this happening in the near future! What do YOU think?

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

"Emotional Intelligence" or "Know yourself"!

Today’s session with Shameen Naidu was extremely insightful presentation into the notion of “emotional intelligence”. In fact, this issue has been one of my favourite topics for quite a while and fortunately enough I had the chance to hear more about this issue today.
As a definition, the term “emotional intelligence” seems to be contradictory. On the one hand, we are talking about our inner world or about our feelings, emotional status and dreams. On the other side of the debate, we have the notion of “intelligence”, which refers to the line and direction of our thinking, the intellectual capacity we possess and the tool that drives and regulates our actions and behaviour. In fact, the separation of these two terms in meaning dates only since the era of post-modernism”. In other words, I believe it is rather a post-modernist invention.
During antiquity and in modern times, scientists, philosophers and thinkers have not indeed separated the world of thought (and actions) and the world of your emotions (your inner world). The first philosopher who draws the connection between the two is the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates. His most famous motto is a popular phrase that we often use today (“Know yourself” or “Get to know yourself!”). In fact, when he was asked to elaborate on this, he explained that what drives you in life is a combination of your feelings, your values, your principles and goals-all developed through the interaction of your mind with your inner world (soul).
Firstly, he explained that our feelings are in fact an expression of our relationship to the things we find worthwhile in life. In fact, the way we relate to somebody or something is a product of our perceptions of good or bad or right and wrong-categories which we have learned to deal with throughout our lives through experience. Later on, these feelings (or perceptions) actually become values and they regulate the choices we make in life and thus define the things that we strive for in our lives. From values then they become principles (and ethical norms) and they largely define the course of our actions, our behavior and our relationship to others. Thus they become driven by our own rationality and justify the choices for our actions and behaviour.
Indeed, according to Socrates, this was a picture of all the stages of personality development of humans. He stated that this was a process in which the inner world (your feelings, perceptions and dreams) and your rationality and mind (principles, norms and ethics) come into co-existence and they both influence one another.
Once again, your feelings teach you about the things you find worthwhile in life and they define the ways you relate to those things. Then they become values and define our perceptions of what is good and bad or right and wrong. When they have been selected by our mind, then they become justified by our own rationality and drive us in our choices, actions and behaviour. As a result, then they become our principles and goals or simply our objectives in life.
In fact, this is what according to Socrates, constituted your “persona” or your “personality”-or in other words “yourself”-the process in which you develop your self-awareness, self-motivation and self-regulation (as what Shameen talked to us about today). Ultimately, this perspective of self-rediscovery and self-awareness becomes the root and value of your relationship to others and to the world at large. In other words, it becomes the sense and meaning of your life.
Put simply, “emotional intelligence” is the root, the means and the imperative that drives people in their lives-the link between feeling, thought and action. Once again, in order to know the world around you, you firstly need to know yourself and this should be the starting point in your quest for knowledge and purpose in life. In fact, this is what Socrates told his students long time ago and yet his wisdom reflects the meaning and purpose of human existence in a very truthful way.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007


Curriculum Vitae
Valentin Tassev
tel. (011) 477-7838; cell: 0820530119;

Career Objective: To pursue a career in the field of diplomacy and international relations or any journalism or publishing-related field.

Education: University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2006-2007)-Master of Arts in International Relations.

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2005)
Bachelor of Arts with Honours (International Relations).

University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg (2004)
Bachelor of Arts.
Majors: International Relations, Media Studies, French Studies, Italian Studies.

Special Achievements (Awards):
2002-awarded life-time membership in Golden Key Honour International
Society for being among the top fifteen percent students in 2001.
2002-prize-giving award by the Italian-South African society for being the best student in Italian studies in 2001.

Employment history:
, Cresta
Tasks and Responsibilities:
-customer assistant; cashier; floor manager.

Brazilian Coffee Shop, Westgate
Tasks and Responsibilities:
waiter; cashier, departmental manager.

UJ New Arts Centre:
Tasks and Responsibilities:
lighting and sound design; technical crew; stage preparation.

-team leadership; attaining objectives through team-work processes;
-inter-personal skills; presentation skills; communicative skills; oral skills
-management skills; customer-minded skills.

Social activities, hobbies and interests:
Sport: Football, Cricket, Tennis and Volleyball. I think that participation in
sports develops various skills, such as conflict management, team
leadership, discipline, commitment, character and physical health.

Membership in Social Anthropology Society at Wits.
Membership in Italian Society club at Wits.
I believe that these activities teach one to be hard-working,
disciplined, organized and always strive at the best.

Referees: Ms Natalie Zahringer
Senior lecturer in the School of Social Sciences; Department of
International Relations, University of the Witwatersrand; tel.: (011) 717-4393.

Mr Brett Coetzee
TOP CD Cresta Manager; tel.: (011) 476-7414.

Monday, May 7, 2007

How to be a "Presenter"?

Today’s session by Des Patel was an insightful introduction into the question of presentation skills. By asking us to do various exercises, she helped us understand that developing presentation skills is just a matter of practice and anybody could develop such skills.
In particular, she highlighted a number of key areas that each one of should work on when doing our presentations-for example, building confidence, speaking loud, projecting your voice, body language, the way you stand etc. In general, I believe that today’s session was an extremely valuable lesson and a good practice for our oral presentations on Friday, the eleventh of May.

Friday, May 4, 2007

"You and I"

Today’s presentation by Roy Blumenthal was one of the most exciting experiences of the world of work training programme so far. In fact, his presentation helped me understand that at the work-place and in life, in general, individuality and your own personal identity are the most effective means by which you project and expose yourself.
In fact, when I came to South Africa in August 2000, I thought that the only way for me to integrate successfully into the South African society was to abandon my values, habits and principles that I acquired in Bulgaria. Believe it or not, this was a wrong strategy and in fact, people in South Africa liked me for who I was-at times a little bit naughty, crazy and too wild. Later on, I understood that your identity and your personality are unique and you should not be ashamed of it. At the end of the day, people like you for who you are and not for whom you are pretending to be.
In this regard, Roy’s session helped me understand once again that we should be proud of our own identity and uniqueness, and not feel ashamed to express it in any given situation. As he stated, all of us are unique and all of us will be remembered in one way or another. Thanks, Roy, thank you, guys!
I would like just to add something to that. As much as people should strive to preserve their roots and identity, they should also try to learn from each other and be keen on opening to other peoples’ cultures and backgrounds. Again, my experience in South Africa taught me that one should try and understand other peoples’ cultures and environments, and assess the historical conditions from which all social relationships have emerged from (in this particular country). Tolerance and mutual understanding are required for one to understand other people and yet this effort helps you also learn new things and develop yourself in different directions. In my own case, South Africa contributed to my intellectual and spiritual development and I am grateful to anybody who took participation into this.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

What does it really mean? "Proudly South African"?

Dear Themba, you raise a very interesting issue-what it means to be a "proudly South African". Despite the fact that you do not elaborate a lot on that, it is interesting that one is aware of the controversial meaning of that term. I will tell you what I think very briefly.
For me, the term "South African identity" is problematic, because not everybody in this country fully understands or appreciates the vaue of the so-called "South African identity". As anyone can see, some people still live in big nice houses, some people are still left on the streets. In fact, there is no room for all these various populations of South Africa to integrate socially, culturally and even professionally. People tend to close themselves in their small social circle and identify themselves in the context of this small community that they have become part of. Even at Wits one can see a gear degree of disintegration among the students from various backgrounds. I will not go so far as to discuss the reasons for that. I think that everybody knows what they are.
However, if South Africans are looking with optimism at the World Cup in 2010 and they believe that the whole world will see that the "rainbow nation" in fact exists, they need to open to each other and show more willingness to understand the different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities of South Africa. If not, the whole idea of the so-called "rainbow nation" will be just one utopian idea. Besides, anybody who claims that he (she) is a "proudly South African" needs to speak more than just one language, such as English. As we already know, South Africa has eleven official spoken languages. And how many people speak at least half of those? This is what we should start thinking about.
Please, Themba or anybody else, let me know if you believe that I should elaborate more on that issue!

"Conflict Resolution" and the Workplace

Berenice De la Croix's presentation on "conflict resolution" was an extremely valuable lesson for me to understand how to deal with a conflict in inter-personal relationships and at the work-place. In fact, over the long weekend, I was involved in a serious conflict with some friends of mine. In fact, the issue that we argued about was actually a minor issue, but I guess that everybody was trying to push his agenda as always and convince the others that he was right.
Honestly speaking, when arguing I am not very keen on accepting other peoples' points and ideas and I can keep on arguing for quite a long time. However, Berenice De la Croix's presentation taught me that one of the ways to deal with a conflict is to compromise or accommodate your opponent.
I remember that she mentioned that being "assertive" means that you should be both tolerant to other peoples' opinions and at the same time express your vision on a particular issue in an opened and sincere manner. Therefore, "assertiveness" does not mean that one should be a "stubborn" and neglect automatically other peoples' opinions, but listen carefully and acknowledge whenever the other person could be right in his (her) own view. Personally, this was a valuable lesson that I learnt from Berenice De la Croix's presentation and I can see that it already helps largely in inter-personal relationships as much it helps at the workplace.
Thanks, Berenice!

The Cultural Gap and the "Bulgarian Stallion"

This post aims to throw reveal the controversy around the blog name "the Bulgarian Stallion". In fact, this name was chosen with no deliberate thoughts in mind and obviously I was not aware of some connotations attached to this name. The night before I was about to choose a blog name, I watched the movie "Rocky" with Silvester Stallown, quite an old movie about a famous boxer from Philadelphia. In the movie he was referred to as the "Italian Stallion", I do not know why.
I liked this name and when I had to create a name for my blog, I decided to refer it somehow to Bulgaria. And because it had to be my own blog, I decided to name the blog "the Bulgarian Stallion". Only later I found out that this blog name had some sexual connotations attached to it, not familiar to me. For that reason I would like to say at this point that the choice for this blog name had nothing to do with any of those meanings. Obviously, I have not been aware of this meaning from a cultural point of view.
However, now that I know what it refers to, I am glad that by accident this blog name brought some movement and discussion among people. And believe it or not, I will not change it as long as it makes people think and question themselves why there is such a blog name. As Roy Blumenthal suggested, we have to be original and unique in the way we represent ourselves. Thus, with regards to the blog name, let it be!