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I recently had a conversation about the way Americans and Bulgarians perceive family names and what impact they have on our life choices.

My American interlocutor said that he was once offended when someone tried to learn more about him by asking “What does your father do?” Instead, he though, they should’ve asked “What do you do?”  Why should my father be a benchmark for me, he said.

I disagree. To me, my father and my family are a source of pride. I am honored when I am connected or compared to my father because to me this means that I have lived up to a great expectation.

But I don’t know if I’m thinking in such a way because I’m Bulgarian or because I’m me.  

Maybe it’s because I’m Bulgarian: In the States, you middle name is randomly chosen, just as your first name.  But in Bulgaria, my middle name is the first name of my father. We always carry our name first, then the name of our fathers, then the name of our family kin.

I can’t escape thinking that this concrete bondage creates a feeling of duty.  My interlocutor agreed and said that Americans whose name ends in “Junior” usually belong to a rich and old elite where succession of businesses or careers is also typical (such families are the Bushes, the Kennedys)

But then, maybe it’s because I’m me:  Speaking of family names, maybe my particular family name matters even more than the Bulgarian naming tradition. I know that my last name is unique;  really, it’s very uncommon and you couldn’t even pronounce it. We are an old and large family, and I know that anybody who carries this last name is my relative.

Because our name makes our kin so distinctive, I feel that whatever I do, I have a last name to live up to. Otherwise, my failures will be traced back to my family and might hurt its reputation.

 I wonder, if I had a more common name, if I were called Brown or Smith or Ivanova or Petrova, would I still have such strong emotions for my name? You tell me.


Lately, I have been trying to familiarize myself with online social media (as you can tell from my blog) and internet marketing (that’s a long story). I’ve also been thinking about wineries (that’s an even longer story). So there it is, my thoughts on how the two can work together to create some very interesting initiatives.  

The Fledgling Wine initiative joins the efforts of Twitter, the Californian winery Crushpad, and Room to Read, a non-profit that promotes literacy for children from third-world countries.     

$5 from every $20-bottle of the fledgling Crushpad wine, vintage 2009, goes towards the noble cause of Room to Read.  

What makes this initiative interesting to me is that it presumably targets wine connoisseurs,  who are generally expected to be more affluent than the average person (since they are used to buying wine from this same vineyards for $50 per bottle, according to the winemaker).  

I believe that it’s a great idea to target wine-lovers, who often times are the intelligentsia , the more sophisticated social class, and who would spend their money not only on good wine, but also for good causes.  

Still, by lowering the price of their wine and starting this “social winemaking project” in partnership with Twitter, Crushpad takes away from the elitist feel of buying vintage wine for a socially responsible cause. Crushpad makes the connoisseur experience available to everybody.  

The idea of making something far-fetched and elitist (such as premium wine in the eyes of the wine-ignorant, access to the global communication flow in the eyes of the internet-unacquainted, or education and literacy in the eyes of poor kids in India) seem attainable and real, is the heart of the Fledgling Wine initiative; and a truly noble cause.  

That’s why I think the Fledgling Wine is such a great project. Read more about Twitter’s Bottles for Books.  

Cheers!  

And happy Liberation Day, March 3rd, to all Bulgarians living and studying abroad!  

Watch this video from the official website

 

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Read my post on the Bulgarian Day of Wine, Trifon Zarezan.

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