April 02, 2020

Your recent series of articles on the American University in Bulgaria were laced with so much innuendo and half-truths that one wonders if your reporter left Maine at all. Susan Young appears to have been out of her league, both as an investigative reporter and a traveler. She describes Bulgaria, a beautiful, charming, and well-educated country with a 98 percent literacy rate, as though it were a backwoods Dogpatch out of another century.

My husband is an AUBG professor; we live a comfortable, interesting life with our two daughters, eagerly accepting the challenges we knew would be part of a move to another culture and country. We do not, as Young insinuates, huddle miserably with other faculty, refusing to learn Bulgarian. My oldest daughter attends a private primary school we founded with other AUBG staff where she studies both Bulgarian and English language curriculum.

Young’s descriptions of President Julia Watkins are so unfair as to be malicious. She is a vibrant woman who works hard at presenting the university both here in Europe and in the United States, as well as taking care of mundane day to day academic affairs. Yes, there are problems here, as at all academic institutions, but Young was apparently not interested in covering them — at least not factually. Did half the American faculty leave, or 12? She says both.

Were all faculty blind followers of the two disgruntled professors interviewed or were those professors less messiah-like than they presented themselves? What did the Bulgarian faculty think? None appeared to be interviewed. Perhaps Ms. Young was huddled miserably elsewhere, refusing to learn about Bulgarian(s). How does AUBG fit into the local economy and society?

These questions were never addressed. Dina Wood Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria

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