Theodora Dragostinova, Ohio State University, USA

What are you researching at the moment?

Currently, I am looking into the repatriation of children in the Balkans after the Great War. As a result of constant fighting between 1912 and 1918, many children were lost or displaced in the contested lands between Bulgaria, Greece, and Macedonia, and I am trying to trace their faith. Some were orphans, others fled with the armies, still others got married or recruited as labor. I want to reconstruct the stories of these children and families.

What is your go-to website for news and analysis?

BBC News and New York Times for international news; Balkan Insight for regional news.

Do you have a writing routine?

I write in bursts. I allocate 2 days a week and try to write for 4-5 hours each day. But it doesn’t always work, especially if I have a lot of teaching or administrative tasks. For this reason, I write during my breaks.

What was the worst advice you have been given?

I wish I had studied more modern languages! I studied Latin, Ancient Greek, and Old Church Slavonic in high school, but I wish I had learnt German instead.

Have you ever been inspired by a student? If so, how?

I constantly learn from students: I ask for reading and viewing recommendations, inquire about their opinions on politics and arts, share humorous stories with them. I believe the interaction with students in a two-way process of learning, not just the professor imparting knowledge. I am constantly delighted and surprised by the wisdom of young people.

Name one thing that you would do if you were not a professor?

I can see myself as an attorney, but I am glad I am a professor!

Describe Balkan in three words

Small distances. Beautiful nature. Curious people.

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