Narrative Summary Interview with Lora Koleva by Steve Leck

Narrative Summary
Interview with Lora Koleva by Steve Leck
For the Project, I decided to interview Laura Koleva, a global studies major at Missouri
State. I chose her because she identified as Eastern Orthodox when talking to her. This is not
something I saw every day, so I wanted to know what she believed. I’m glad I decided to
interview her, because she had very interesting stories. She talked about her parents religious
influences in Bulgaria, how they actually affect the reason why she goes to church in general.
She also spoke of how she’s still forming her religious beliefs, which surprisingly I found was
not unusual in the Orthodox churches of Springfield.
Lora started by talking about her parents living in socialist Bulgaria in the 60’s. Religion
was actually banned at this time, so they had to practice and marry each other in secrecy.
According to Lora, was actually punishable by law to get married in a church. She says that even
though her parents have religious freedom here, they stopped being religious when they moved
here. She does attend the Orthodox Church once a year; every Easter. Curiously enough, she
actually does not want to walk away from this faith, as she feels that by doing this, she is
honoring her nationality and her ancestors. The idea of practicing a particular religion just to
honor nationality seemed unusual, but she explained it was simply a platform for seeking out
other religions.
Lora spoke of becoming interested in various religions as she’s grown older. She
mentioned that she is taking a liking to Buddhism, and further wants to explore some of these
teachings. She does not feel restricted by her religion at all to do these things. This was another
interesting aspect of her search for her religion in the Ozarks, is that she noticed was able to
point out two aspects of Ozark life that many wouldn’t think of: Diversity and finding her
Missouri State University
Spring 2015
Religious Lives of Ozarks Women
As I spoke with Lora more, we started hitting on some of these ideas of womanhood in
the Ozarks. She said that life here has seemingly made her stronger as a woman. She feels that
she has gained a lot more independence being raised in the Ozarks than the experience she would
have had back home. She further explains that it would have been a more traditional role, as a
house wife, whereas here, she actually feels empowered to make her own decision. She does add
that living in America has made her more spoiled, though.
We further talk about life here, and her growing pool of friends. She says that no two are
from the same country and actually reside here. Diversity is not something one would think of
when thinking of the Ozarks, but there seems to be a level of this growing. She says that most
moved here for economic reasons, which seems to be a huge aspect in growth for the Ozarks in
general. She further explains that her home country in Bulgaria is predominately white,
Bulgarian born natives, so comparatively, it seems diverse to her, and this is something she
loves. Lora goes on to tell me how now she feels torn between two countries, and trying to find a
balance of paying homage to her traditions, while at the same time finding her own path.
Lora, I feel, was an important interview, because although she is not largely involved in
religion now, she is able to tell the story of a young woman adapting to change and forging her
own path. She does not seem to be held down by confines of any religious aspect. Lora is not
sure what the next chapter in her active search of faith will lead, but she seems quite confident
that she will end up where she’s supposed to.
Missouri State University
Fall 2008
Religious Lives of Ozarks Women