During the summer of 2014, I spent almost two months interning with the Bread Houses Network in Bulgaria. While there, I lived and volunteered in the original Bread House in Gabrovo, an incredible building that is more than a century old and filled with all sorts of treasures from around the world. One of the most special aspects of my work was the chance to participate in, and eventually lead, the many bread making workshops we held, including ones with children, orphans, fellow volunteers, and people from a daily center for the mentally handicapped. Although the process of making the bread remained more or less the same, each workshop was a unique experience, with people connecting through the dough and experiencing new sensations in different ways each time.
While in Bulgaria, I was able to see how bread making can help people connect and learn, despite the existence of any barriers due to ethnicity, race, class, or even language (I barely spoke a word of Bulgarian, yet I found myself laughing right along with everybody else countless times). Inspired by my experience, I have decided to begin a Bread House program when I return in the fall to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where I attend university. Because it is a small college town, Chapel Hill has a high population of young students, but unfortunately they are not as connected to the surrounding community as they could be. I am hoping to help bridge this gap and create relationships between the student and the town of Chapel Hill, as well as eliminate existing cultural barriers, especially those of class. As this program is founded and hopefully continues to grow, I will add updates and descriptions about our process and experience. Happy baking!