Bulgarian native Joy Grubaugh embraces American culture. Image By: Finn Lynch

Bulgarian Native Embraces American Culture

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For most of her life,  Joy Maria Grubaugh lived in Bulgarian culture. Now at 16, she finds herself embracing a new way of life more than 5,000 miles away. 

Born in Bulgaria to Romanian parents, Joy was constantly immersed in different types of cultures.Unlike most of her peers, Joy has the ability to communicate in various languages. While in Bulgaria, she wanted nothing more than to be able to communicate and play with other children, so she acquired many languages. Joy is fluent in: Bulgarian, Romanian, Ukrainian, Turkish, English, and conversational in Spanish. Joy was able to pick up these languages from just her friends. 

After being adopted alongside her younger sister and brother from an orphanage in her home country,  Joy’s journey in America began at just the age of 14. It was important for Joy to remain with her siblings, so much to her delight – the three were adopted by a loving family.

“I moved here for my future, and for my brother and sister to have a good life with goals,” Joy said. 

The sincere 16-year old cannot express enough how grateful she is for the support she’s received thus far. Through their provision, Joy feels that she can work towards her goals, as she hopes to become a doctor or psychiatrist in the future. 

“I’ve never felt someone care for me so much,” Joy says. “I feel so much love.” 

With only being here for a year, Joy has felt the culture of Lamar to be quite different from what she experienced at schools in Bulgaria. 

 “I didn’t have the money for clothes that I have now, and people would judge me for it.,” Joy shares. “But everything here is different, the people here are different, even the communication and I feel more comfortable here. I don’t feel judged.” 

As a student a part of Lamar’s newcomer program, Joy has been able to help other students within the program while also picking up yet another language, Spanish.  

Finding what it means to do things for herself, Joy has been able to make her own choices that align with who she wants to be. 

“In Bulgaria, I wasn’t myself, but when I came here I stopped caring how I looked, or what others thought about me,” Joy said. “I tried to be cool for others to like me, but here it’s not like that, I get to be myself and people like me for me, and not the fake me.”


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