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.
Interview with Alice Panikian
Miss Universe Canada 2006 and 6th place finisher in Miss Universe 2006
The interview in Bulgarian. Coming soon – the interview in Russian
What is your most memorable moment from the competitions?
Alice: The Miss Universe 2006 competition was the most memorable part of the pageant experience for me. I felt honored to be given the chance to represent Canada, the country I have called home for the past 19 years. Meeting the 85 other contestants was such a remarkable experience as well. I learned so much about the contestants as well as the countries they represented. Though it was a high-stress time for everyone involved, I enjoyed the fast-paced life, participating in the events as well as the thrill of being on stage.
Please tell us a little about yourself, what were you doing before the pageant?
Before entering the Miss Canada pageant, I was modeling. I love to travel so modeling gave me the opportunity to do that at a young age. I was also going to York University where my major was English and Communications.
Did your life change after the contest, what will you be doing now?
My life has changed dramatically because of the contest. My dream is to be involved in broadcast journalism. Because of the competition, I was able to network with many people in that industry and it was an opportunity for me to get a lot of exposure. I am currently still studying broadcast journalism in Toronto and I will be graduating in the spring. I hope to be involved in broadcasting very soon in some capacity, whether it be hosting or writing.
What advice would you give the thousands of girls, who wish that they were in your place?
The best advice I can give to any young woman who wants to compete in a pageant is to always be herself. The things that make each of us unique are the things that are most memorable. Embracing yourself for the person you are, having confidence and not conceding to the pressures of outside forces are all important to achieving success not only in pageants, but in all areas of life.
What role did your Bulgarian mother play in your successes?
My mother is, and always has been, my number one supporter. She was the one who raised me, and because of her I am the person I am today. She is the reason behind all of my success.
Have you been to Bulgaria and what does Bulgaria mean to you?
I was born in Bulgaria and I have been back several times. Bulgaria means so much to me. Not only it is my heritage, but also, most of my family still lives there. I have many relatives and friends in Bulgaria, so of course it remains a huge part of my life.
What do your friends know about Bulgaria and what do they associate it with?
Many of my friends are from Eastern Europe as well so they have either been to Bulgaria or they know about it. They know it is next to the Black Sea. They know about ancient cities like Plovdiv as well as the beautiful mountains we have. Bulgaria is known for many things and each time I meet someone who has been there, they always have something different to share with me.
Do you have anything from Bulgaria in your home, like a souvenir or memory from Bulgaria?
We have pictures/paintings of Koprivstiza and Plovdiv, books, Bulgarian music (CDs), martenizi, embroidered things, many photos, and other small souvenirs.
Do you use Bulgarian cooking recipes? If so, what is your favorite one?
I like Bulgarian cuisine a lot, especially baniza, red peppers and cabbage rolls stuffed with rice, tarator, ljuteniza, and French fries with shredded feta cheese (Bulgarian cheese). During my visits in Bulgaria I like to eat kebabcheta, and lukanka.
Are you familiar with some of the Bulgarian traditions and do you celebrate Bulgarian holidays?
We celebrate the National holiday of Bulgarian culture, language, and literature on May 24, (I was born May 23rd), March 1st Baba Marta, Christmas (Budni Vecher and Koleda) and Easter (Velikden).
What are your future plans and dreams? What do you hope to accomplish?
One day I hope to be the host of my own television show. Because I love to travel so much, I would love my show to be about travelling to different destinations and experiencing the best that each country has to offer. I also love to write and I have always wanted to write a novel. Once I find the time, I hope that I will achieve that goal.
Is there anything you would like to tell the Bulgarian people and Bulgaria?
I am proud to be born in a country with such rich history, and to be a descendant of such strong spirited people as the Bulgarians. I think of Bulgaria and Bulgarian people often and wish them the best!
What are you expecting for the upcoming Valentine’s Day?
I plan to spend it with someone special.
A question for the mom: What is the most special and strong quality in your daughter?
Svetlana Panikian: My daughter is a very compassionate, intelligent, sincere, warm, and outgoing person. Also, she is a loyal friend and likes to help others.
To the mom and daughter: Would you be willing to come visit us in Chicago? What about in Bulgaria?
We hope to be able to come and visit at the first opportunity in the future. At the moment I am in the process of finishing my degree in journalism.
Questions by Dimitar Stamatov
Pictures of Alice
(Photographs are from the family album and/or they are copyrighted )