Elizabeth Gibson is living about as different a life as one could have from a year before.
In 2014, she was wrapping up her senior project and looking forward to graduation.
Fast forward one year, and the Camas High School graduate is living in Bulgaria and working on an independent journalism project.
Gibson, who is half-Bulgarian, attends the American University and is studying computer science. However, she is now reevaluating options.
Gibson, 18, noted that Bulgaria is about as different from Camas as anything could possibly be, and that living in a country filled with 45 different nationalities has made her realize that everyone plays a unique role on the world stage.
“I began working on a journalistic project in order to unearth the political and social issues prevalent in Russia, as well as to explore the facts of the Syrian refugee crisis and Russia’s military presence in Syria,” she explains in her blog. “I have, irrelevantly to this interview, also decided to expand my quest for knowledge internationally, so that my research is not limited to Russia, but encompasses other countries facing similar struggles.”
In a three-part interview, Gibson chronicles the struggles faced by a gay Russian friend, “Benjamin,” and what ultimately led him to leave his life behind in Moscow and move to Bulgaria. She includes his thoughts on Russia’s current government and military affairs.
“It’s important that U.S. citizens are aware of what’s going on outside of their personal bubbles,” she said.
“Camas, especially, is the epitome of a bubble that is untouched by the corruption and filth of the outer world, and, although I have no problem with it staying that way, awareness is imperative in order to consider oneself a world citizen.”
While in Bulgaria, Gibson is living in the university’s dorm. She describes it as a “one-of-a-kind” experience.
“Although it is an American University, Americans are the minority here,” she said. “Most of the student body is composed of youth from Eastern Europe, and as a result the experience is truly one-of-a-kind.”
She hopes that people will take the time to read her interviews, and form their own opinions.
“That’s what I am hoping to accomplish: Not only a potentially fulfilling personal journey in which I learn about the world outside of the U.S., but the impartation of my knowledge to those that cannot or do not desire to be in my position.”
Gibson is enjoying her classes and the people she has met in college, but misses the security of home.
“I miss everything that I knew, because once I arrived here, it was all uprooted,” she said. “Although this transition is strengthening me as a human being, it’s not easy. But I suppose most youth withstand insecurity when they begin college.”
Gibson encourages those who have grown up in small towns to get out and explore.
“Go experience something completely different, whether it’s a new lifestyle, career path, country, whatever,” she said.
“Just change it up, because you will never learn by sticking to what’s familiar.”
To learn more about Gibson and her project, visit www.allthewayfromwashington.com.