Meet the GLOW girls: Elena Genova

‘Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead somewhere where there is no path and leave a trail’. This quote was hanging on the wall next to my door when I was a camper back in 2001 and somehow it always stayed with me


Name: Elena Genova

Years: 27

Occupation: PhD Student

Current Location: Nottingham, UK

Hometown: Pravets, Bulgaria

GLOW year: 2001- 2007



Tell us about yourself – what are you doing, where are you?

I am currently doing my PhD in Sociology at the University of Nottingham in the UK. I am also a Teaching assistant at the University and I also volunteer at the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum, providing refugees and asylum seekers with advice regarding housing, education and benefits.


What do you love about your job (studies)?

I am doing many different things at the same time and I really enjoy the fact that I constantly work with people. I love that each day is different and that I am given the opportunity to do research on something that is very close to my heart, something that I am very passionate about.


Walk us through your (work) day.

Each day is different but generally I struggle waking up early. I am also definitely not a morning person, so it is better to try and talk to me after I have had some coffee. I then walk to campus and hopefully by the time I have reached the office, I am more awake. Then while answering my emails I have another coffee and after that I get down to work unless I have other School meetings or unless I am teaching. If it is a Thursday, I go and volunteer at the Refugee forum where I meet with clients and try to help them with whatever issue they have. That sometimes involves making phone calls to various local and national agencies and departments. Sometimes I do home visits and go with my clients to various appointments. This means I end up running around town all day. I come home, have dinner and then I do more work until 2-3 am.


What “rules” do you live by?

I always follow my heart.


What is the greatest thing about education?

The best thing about education is critical thinking which teaches you not to take things for granted, to think and question the status quo and to discover the world every day.


Who has inspired you in your life and why?

Both of my parents because they are the most caring, loving, driven people that I know. They have given me both roots and wings to follow my dreams.


What are you passionate about?

Travelling, baking and human rights.


Which experiences in life helped you become the person you are?

I think the first one that has had a tremendous effect on my personality was GLOW. After that, it was studying abroad- in USA, Poland and the UK. These experiences expanded my horizons, made me more open- minded and more tolerant.


When things get tough, how do you keep yourself going?

I am really fortunate to have amazing and very loving family and friends who keep me sane. They are always there for me regardless of my (or their) geographical location.


The things for which we should always find time are…? Why are they important?

Hugs. Often we are so busy, running around that we forget how energizing hugs can be. They give you this warm fuzzy feeling that makes you feel special and important.


What kind of books (or which) do you consider must read?

Sociology and politics books 🙂 …not that I am biased of course!


What has GLOW given you?

GLOW has given me good lessons, great friends, amazing experiences and brilliant summers. It made me more confident and brave by forcing me to go out of my comfort zone and to think outside the box. It changed my mindset and my lifestyle.


Tell us something interesting that very few people know about you!

I keep on complaining about the weather in England but the truth is that I actually have my favorite type of rain – light drizzle. I love to be out when it is drizzling!


What is your advice for the young people?

Do not be just ‘another brick in the wall’. Be yourselves and make a difference.


Share with us your favourite most inspirational piece – article/ story/ talk/ video!

This is the poem (by Damian Damianov, in Bulgarian) that I read over and over again when I am feeling down.