Gorden Crumbie: “I Really Never Left”

August 2, 2016 by American College of Sofia

Interview by Petia Ivanova ’97

Mr. Gorden Crumbie taught History at ACS from 1993 to 2002. He was also advisor for the Model United Nations Club. At your request we contacted him and asked about the years in the United States after he left Bulgaria as well as his memories of the time at the College. Having had the privilege to have been in his history class 1993-95,  I was deeply touched to find out to what extent Bulgaria and ACS are still on his mind.

Gorden Crumbie at the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2000

Mr. Crumbie at the graduation ceremony of the Class of 2000

Mr. Crumbie, it’s been seven years since you left ACS to move back to the United States. In what direction has life taken you since? What are you doing currently?

First of all, let me just tell you how very happy I was to receive an email from ACS. And to your questions: When I came back from Bulgaria I was supposed to teach at a local high school here (Belleville, Michigan) but I got caught up in the aftermath of 9/11, specifically the Patriot Act. I had to have lived in the United States for at least 3 years before they could conduct a criminal background check (necessary to be hired as a teacher). So, I scrambled for the first decent paying job possible and that was with Guardian Industries – a glass manufacture. For most of my 6 years there, I have done almost everything possible.

You see, I was gone nearly a decade and when I came back to USA I felt like an immigrant, everything had changed beyond my recognition. So, I did feel very out of place, and for the most part still do today.

What gives you strength or makes you happy in this situation?

For a number of years I was satisfied making good money. But I wouldn’t have said I was happy. I guess put into perspective, I enjoy the conversations with my friend.

Is there something that you regret? 

I regret leaving the College and Bulgaria!

What does ACS mean to you?

Nadezhda, in other words Hope, who was one of St. Sofia’s daughters.

What is the most vivid memory you have from your time here at ACS?

I remember vividly the first day – meeting incredible colleagues and the best students a teacher could hope for, then the last day, in the auditorium, crying on stage to a standing ovation from students and colleagues, and everyday I can possibly remember in between.

1993_Faculty_cropped

The ACS faculty on the first day of school year 1993-94

Latest news from Bruno the Baker[1] might also interest the alums – how is he?

That someone remembered me and especially remembered Bruno literally brought tears to my eyes. For me the College and Bulgaria (the time you guys never knew about) were the best moments of my life and will never be replaced by anything.

And to your question, on 2/16/08 Bruno died. Actually, I had all my notes, emails, ICQ chats, and pictures from my time at ACS on the hard drive of my laptop. My daughter had borrowed my laptop to write some resumes and that night her apartment building burned to the ground. In other words, Bruno the Baker ended up toast.

Would you like to share your future plans with us?

My immediate plans are just to survive the current economic hardships here. I literaly live in the shadow of General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. My area is suffering about 20% unemployment and 29 of my neighbors have just moved out and left their house to the bank. As a historian I saw something like this coming but never though it would be this bad.

Earlier you mentioned that you regret leaving the College and Bulgaria. Have you thought of coming back here some day?

When I left the College and got on a plane to leave Bulgaria I could take only 30 kilos of my 10 years in Bulgaria. I think that that didn’t include my heart and a good portion of my thought process which got left behind. So, I am sure I’ll come back to try to reclaim them.

I also go to a Bulgarian Orthodox Church here though, which reminds me of another long story (that I better leave for another time) how I got to Bulgaria in the first place in 1980 – 82.

Plus I learned how to make rakia on my stove.

Also, everytime I look at my watch I see the time here and in Bulgaria. I think it is 5th period, or a sunny lunch time. So, (if you understood the above answer) I really never left.

Do you have a message to the ACS alumni, those that have met you and perhaps even to those that haven’t?

Never ever forget you are in one of the most incredible places on Earth! Never ever forget you are one of the most fortunate people on Earth! Give back some way what God has given you! And, that’s why I became a teacher.

And finally, with the sincerest honesty possible, the College, its staff, and students who I haven’t met, don’t wane from my thoughts or heart for even an hour. I do as much as it is possible love you all, the ones I know and yet to know.

[1] Bruno the Baker was one of several characters Mr. Gorden Crumbie used to employ during classes to help his students understand the world history processes and their influence on the small to middle entrepreneurs. Mentioning their names never failed to get the students’ attention.

 

The interview was first published as part of the first issue of the ACS Alumni Magazine in June 2009.

 

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