Our gift for Valentine’s Day – interview with Laura Chukanov
Let’s shortly summarize – what is Bulgaria known for worldwide:
- With its history and cultural monuments – Plovdiv is the oldest existing city today in Europe, the oldest processed gold in the world was discovered near Varna (5000 BC), and only Italy and Greece have more antiques in their museums;
- With heavenly natural beauty – in an area of approximately 110,000 square kilometers (way smaller than the state of Illinois) are situated some of the highest peaks in Europe, the beautiful Black Sea, fertile fields and gardens, where everything found in temperate zone can grow, including the Bulgarian rose, which has become a symbol of Bulgaria – and the sweet scented oils derived from it;
- With its abundant mineral water – the number of hot mineral springs in Bulgaria is second only to Iceland;
- With its yogurt – unsurpassed in quality because of the bacterium bulgaricus, which is found naturally only in Bulgaria
- With dance, with songs and with the voices of performers – starting with Valya Balkanska, whose song is currently flying through space with Voyager hoping to come across other civilizations, then we get to the opera singers- Boris Christoff, Nicolai Ghiaurov, Ghena Dimitrova, Raina Kabaivanska, Stefka Evstatieva … The list is very long and we will stop it at Vesselina Kasarova, even though right behind her are numerous young talents – it is not by chance that it was in our land that the ancient Orpheus was born and lived.
We can talk about the treasures of Bulgaria for much longer, but now for Valentine’s Day, as a gift to the Bulgarian women, we want to remind them that they are some of the most beautiful in the world. This is not just a compliment but simply the truth – Bulgaria has always been glorified with its talented, hardworking and beautiful women. (It is true that there are few blondes, but this is understandable as the person with the highest IQ in the world organization for the intelligent MENSA is the Bulgarian – Daniela Simidchieva)
Dear Bulgarian ladies, as a special for Valentine’s Day, the editors of www.Eurochicago.com decided to seek interviews from some of the most beautiful women in the world. And because we are not in Bulgaria, we set a more difficult task for ourselves: to find beautiful ladies outside its borders. Our only condition was that they have Bulgarian roots.
In three separate parts under the same title, we will present our interviews with three of the most beautiful women in the world and their Bulgarian mothers. You’ll learn many interesting things about them, including what they do, what their favorite Bulgarian holidays are, what they want for Valentine’s Day, and what they want to wish to the Bulgarian people.
We already presented you with our interview with Alice Panikian – Miss Universe Canada 2006 and 6th place finisher in Miss Universe 2006, interview with Ksenia Shipilova – the present holder of the Miss Russia Pageant, represented Russia at the Miss World 2009 contest in Johannesburg (South Africa). Today the same questions will be answered by Laura Chukanov.
Interview with Laura Chukanov
Miss Utah USA 2009, the third runner up for Miss USA 2009 pageant
(the interview in Bulgarian and Russian)
What is your most memorable moment from the competition?
Laura: Being called into the top 5 at Miss USA was the best feeling! I never imagined that it would feel that way. It was exciting, a relief, a rush of confidence, and happiness. That moment made all of my hard work worth it, not just for myself but also for everyone who helped me get there. Being on that stage with lights in my face and standing in the final line up before Miss USA was announced really made me realize how lucky I have been, I had so much support from many amazing people and it turned out that I had absolutely no regrets.
Please tell us a little about yourself, what were you doing before the pageant?
Before I competed for Miss Utah USA I was busy being a full time student at the University of Utah. I had a job working at the Career Services Center at my school and I had just returned from a summer studying Spanish in Spain. When I came home for the fall semester I really wanted to do something that would make me focus on a goal and organize my life, so I decided to compete for Miss Utah USA and I am now so happy I did.
Did your life change after the contest, what will you be doing now?
This experience definitely changed my life. It made me really believe that if I work hard enough, I can accomplish whatever I want. All that is needed for success is a manageable goal and support. Right now I am involved with several interesting projects that are all a result of my experience as Miss Utah USA. Television and media is an industry that I have become very interested in, so I became involved with a local TV station where I got to host a segment during the Sundance Film Festival 2010 in Park City, Utah. I am also involved with the Salt Lake City Film Festival and two non-profit organizations. One of them donates art supplies to kids all over the world and the other is to help Bulgarian orphanages www.oneheart-bg.org. My biggest goal is to find a good graduate program, possibly in journalism.
What advice would you give the thousands of girls, who wish that they were in your place?
Pick something you really want to do, but aren’t sure if you really can, and promise yourself that you will try and then go for it! Make sure that you have a backup plan and make sure you have someone to help keep you grounded while you’re working hard. However, the most important person to rely on is yourself. Just tell yourself that you can do it and stick to your goal everyday. Forgive yourself if you make a mistake, we are all human, but don’t let that distract you or make you give up. When you are ready to succeed the universe will start helping you with good people, confidence, and time. When it’s your time don’t hesitate, go for it.
What role did your Bulgarian mother play in your successes?
My mother has always believed in me, but the thing that was most important is that she gave me space to work hard on my own. About a week before I left for Miss USA my mom was a life saver! It’s the little things that are so helpful, like making lunch or remembering to fix my shoes or reminding me that I am great and will be fine. I am a fairly independent person, but I know that I owe almost all of my success to my mom. Thank you mama, love you!
Have you been to Bulgaria and what does Bulgaria mean to you?
Of course! Bulgaria is a special place where my roots are. I feel responsible to learn more about and support other Bulgarians. I am proud to be a Bulgarian and I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from other Bulgarians. All I would really like to see is more positive and hopeful Bulgarians! Success and happiness comes from a change of attitude.
What do your friends know about Bulgaria and what do they associate it with?
My friends are very excited about Bulgaria and they all want to go visit. Bulgarians are so much more than the banitza, rakiya, and folk music, and my friends know that. Many of my friends think it is a very interesting and mysterious country, with a beautiful history and amazing people that they would like to know more about.
Do you have anything from Bulgaria in your home, like a souvenir or memory from Bulgaria?
Yes, I have many Bulgarian books, dolls, and artwork. Actually, a friend and I are going to have a martinichki making party and then give them away to a bunch of people who don’t know much about Bulgaria so that our friends will also have something Bulgarian. Art in Bulgaria is amazing to me. Two summers ago I had the opportunity to travel through Bulgaria with my cousin. No other artwork has moved me the way the work I saw in Bojentsi, Tsarevits, and a bunch of other small towns through the countryside. I just wish my suitcase was big enough to take all of the art back to America with me!
Do you use Bulgarian cooking recipes? If so, what is your favorite one?
I don’t cook very much, but I do love Bulgarian food. I made sarmi recently. Unfortunately, they were not as good as my grandma’s, but it’s a start. I really want to learn to make troushia and baklava. I have so much to learn!
Are you familiar with some of the Bulgarian traditions and do you celebrate Bulgarian holidays?
On Christmas we have the seven vegetarian foods and the fortune bread. I always have a martinichka for the spring and I know that name days are very special. I’m not sure if I know much about the very traditional holidays, but I do pay attention to the traditions I am taught.
What are your future plans and dreams? What do you hope to accomplish?
My future plans are to get a masters degree, travel, and to be inspired and inspire. There are so many things to do within all of those overall goals. Someone told me today that there are two parts to a person’s personality: one side is called an “elephant” and it is the part of your personality that is ruled by pure emotion, the other side is called the “rider” and it tries to control the elephant, but the elephant always wins in the end. If there is something that you really want, no matter how much you try to control it with rationalization, you are going to achieve it. There are things that I want to accomplish, and know that I will as soon as I try to control less and live more.
Is there anything you would like to tell the Bulgarian people and Bulgaria?
Be Bulgarian! Being a Bulgarian citizen means that we have to support each other and value what we have. I am so thankful to the response and support I have received, but we need to do that with even the average Bulgarian.
What are you expecting for the upcoming Valentine’s Day?
I’m pretty traditional and I will expect chocolate, a massage, a balloon that says “I love you,” and roses. Valentine’s Day is a fun reminder of love, but there should be love everyday.
A question for the mom: What is the most special and strong quality in your daughter?
Angelina Chukanov: Kind, smart, intelligent, focused, dynamic, fun; with a free spirit, hunger for knowledge, always searching for accomplishments and personal improvement. I am very proud of my daughter!
Do you have other children? Were they in the shadows of their sibling during the competition? Please tell us something about them.
Angelina Chukanov: We have Tony, our 17 year old son. Tony is very proud and happy for his sister’s accomplishment at the Miss USA pageant. Although he doesn’t like to talk much, he smiled the whole time, which is very unusual for him. With them both growing-up it seems like the distance in age between them is becoming smaller. They respect and care for each other, and that makes me very happy!
Would you be willing to come visit us in Chicago? What about in Bulgaria?
Yes and YES!!! We would be so happy to visit!
Questions by Dimitar Stamatov
Pictures of Laura
(Photographs are from the family album and/or they are copyrighted )
More pictures from different years and albums:
Laura and her little brother in the year 1994 in Salt Lake City (USA)
2004 - Laura shows the beauty of the National Bulgarian costume in the US.
2002 in school – “Here is Bulgaria, and here is Sofia!”
2007 in Guatemala – Helping the kids in the poor areas of the country.
With Donald Trump, her mother Angelina, and her dad Kiril.
2009 – In Bulgaria from an invite of BTA.
2009 – TV Journalist Raina Mandjoukova (The President of the Agency of Bulgarians Abroad today) and Laura
2009 - Laura and Daniela Simidchieva – the Bulgarian woman with the highest IQ in the world.
Miss Utah 2009 and Miss USA 1955
Miss Utah 2009 and Miss USA 2008
Laura (Miss Utah 2009) and Christine (Miss USA 2009)