Goodbye Target

Friday was a bittersweet day for me.  After working at Target Corporation for almost 4 years, I walked out the front doors for the last time.  Part of me wanted to celebrate.  Leaving Target signified a step forward and the start of a new adventure.  Another part of me was distressed.  Target has given me so much: a start to my professional career, a deeper understanding of retail and the importance of putting the guest first, the opportunity to lead a team, and most importantly, countless friends, colleagues, and mentors.  Leaving all that behind is going to be incredibly difficult.

Target Plaza South4

Target HQ

As I take this next step forward in my career, there are a few things Target taught me that really stick out:

  1. The importance of feedback.  Target has a strong feedback culture, which can feel a little awkward at first.  Sitting down with a boss or peer to talk about what’s not working in a business or relationship can be very uncomfortable.  However, it does encourage open, honest communication, and a commitment to helping other people get better every single day.  I came to value this open dialogue once I embraced it, and appreciate the experience it gave me having tough conversations without offending someone or being offended.  I’m hoping this will help me in the classroom, specifically asking my students for feedback that will help me become a better teacher.
  2. Storytelling as an effective means of communication.  In my time at Target, I saw numerous different communication styles in meetings and presentations.  What I started to realize was that the most engaging communicators were effective because they were good at telling stories.  They didn’t just regurgitate financials or introduce some new process.  Instead, they used numbers or personal experiences to help them tell a story, and emphasize its importance to their audience.  Storytelling is a powerful tool that extends far beyond the business world, and I hope to use it to help accomplish the Fulbright mission to “enhance mutual understanding” between the United States and Bulgaria.
  3. Fast, Fun, and Friendly.  One of Target’s core values is to be a fast, fun, and friendly place to work; internally, we call it FFF.  Corporate lingo aside, what I think is important is that you have fun and are happy where you work.  I think the same thing applies to a classroom setting.  If my students are having fun and enjoy coming to school, they’ll be more engaged in learning.  Creating this sort of culture will be crucial as I enter my new role teaching English in Bulgaria.

I’ll always look back on my time at Target fondly, and hope the many things I’ve learned will help me be a better teacher and professional.

A sincere thank you to all the people at Target who made my time there so enjoyable.

City/School Assignment!

Since receiving my official acceptance e-mail, I’ve been eagerly awaiting my specific city placement and school assignment. Each Bulgarian ETA (English Teaching Assistant–I’ll likely be using this acronym a lot!) is matched with a school and paired with a teacher mentor.  After much anticipation, I was placed at the Peyo Yavorov school in Silistra, Bulgaria!

Obviously I still have tons to learn about my new home, but here is what I know so far:

  • Silistra looks very different in Bulgarian: Силистра…holy cow!  Bulgarian uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but more on that in a later post.
  • It’s in the northeastern portion of the country situated on the Danube River, which creates Bulgaria’s border with Romania (see top right corner of map above).
  • The population is ~35,000.  Minneapolis is over 10 times that big!
  • It looks like I’ll be pretty far from the capital, Sofia, but close to the Black Sea.
  • The city has a Roman tomb, remains of a Medieval fortress, an Ottoman fort, and an art gallery.
  • “Peyo Yavorov” is a Language High School (8th – 12th grades) that focuses on teaching English, German, and French
  • Students at this school have to pass two entrance exams, earning the school a more elite reputation
  • The school is named after a popular Bulgarian poet and revolutionary
  • Average class size is 22!
  • My teacher mentor is Valentin Eftimov.  I don’t know anything about him other than his role as an English teacher, but I sent him an e-mail, and hope to know more soon!

peyo

I found this picture of Peyo Yavorov on their website.  Apparently it was recently renovated with funds from the European Union (to which Bulgaria was just admitted in 2007)…looks nice!