When you start noticing American flags
What’s it like to be a seasonal worker on Martha’s Vineyard? Monica Boyadzhieva is from Bulgaria, and she’s working two jobs on the island. Throughout the summer she’ll be checking in with CAI, offering her perspective. Here’s her first conversation with CAI’s Steve Junker.
Steve J Hi, Monica.
Monica B Hi, Steve.
Steve J Now you're from Bulgaria. You're a college student there, and you're working on Martha's Vineyard this summer. And you worked on the Vineyard last summer, too. So we thought it would be interesting to hear some impressions from you as someone who is in the middle of Cape Cod summer working, and seeing it, too, with a different kind of perspective--with fresh eyes. Right? So, is there anything we should know about what your experience is like, just to begin with?
Monica B So I currently have two jobs, as anyone [does], actually, who's on the same program. It's called the J-1 program. But it's definitely still fun. And it's different, when I've been here once already [last summer], and I'm experiencing it again and knowing a little more about the island.
Steve J So you're a J-1 worker, you said: you're here on a J-1 visa?
Monica B Yes, it's called Work and Travel Program.
Steve J One thing that really has caught your eye has been... well, why don't you tell us what it is that you're seeing that's really catching your eye?
Monica B Right. So I have noticed a lot of American flags displayed, not only around the main street, but people putting them up around their houses, on their porches. It's actually the very first thing that I noticed when I came to the island last year. I remember because they arrived pretty late at night, but on the next day when I went out and took a walk, the flag was everywhere and everywhere I turned around I could see it from somewhere peeking. And me and my friends have this joke that is just not to forget where we are. Because you can't really forget, because it always reminds you: there's always going to be a flag somewhere that just is going to show up and go, 'Hey, you're in the United States. This is the United States.' And I was wondering, yeah, I don't know if that is something just special to the island, or Massachusetts, because I haven't really been anywhere else around the states. What do you think?
Steve J Well, I think that the American flag is a big part of of summer on Cape Cod. And I don't really know why that is, but I think you're right. It's not just the 4th of July weekend. Maybe there's more of them for the 4th of July. But all through the summer, you can see American flags just about everywhere, up and down Cape Cod and on the islands. I'm just wondering, is it like that in Bulgaria where you're from? Do you see the flag a lot?
Monica B If I have to think about it and think about specifically places that are very tourist-heavy during the summer, like around the seaside--because one of our borders is the Black Sea, so we have a coastal area which is really popular for tourism. Honestly, if anything, you would see it even less there. People would probably put it up on their balcony during some time of the year that they feel patriotic, but not really on the seaside. Not really for display that much for other people, as much as for themselves. I feel like I don't know if that makes sense.
Steve J It does. Well, let me ask you, just as an American who doesn't know these things, what does the Bulgarian flag look like?
Monica B So the Bulgarian flag is... its three horizontal stripes. The first one is white, the second one is green, and the bottom one is red.
Steve J I'm just wondering, in your room somewhere where you're staying there on Martha's Vineyard... you're living in a house with other people who are there working, right? Other J-1 workers?
Monica B Yeah, I'm sharing a house with seven more people.
Steve J Do you have a Bulgarian flag anywhere, like taped up on the wall, or a little something in a pen holder or something?
Monica B No, no. It has never occurred to me to bring a Bulgarian flag coming here. I don't know why.
Steve J Ah.
Monica B Maybe I should. Maybe for the third year I will. And see how it affects me. I'll make an experiment: if seeing it every day makes me inspired.
Steve J Okay. Something to think about. This has been a nice chance to talk. And I hope we talk again soon. Talk about what it's like being there on the Vineyard for you and the things that you're starting to notice.
Monica B Yeah, I'll keep you updated.