Vanya Russell and friend from the Karen Organization of San Diego

Vanya Russell has been volunteering with the CWM for only two years but has made a notable impact. Her heartfelt financial contributions, endless volunteer energy, and catching enthusiasm has made a significantly impact the on the teaching artists, staff, board members, and audience members who have had the pleasure to meet her. She served as a culture bearer of Bulgaria enriching the experience of over 60 students at the San Diego French-American School. Finally, her donations helped us bring world musicians and dancers into classrooms across San Diego County, impacting over 4,500 children in the 2016-17 year.

She is our hero. She is an important reason children in the San Diego area are singing the stories and playing the music of cultures and traditions that reflect the heartbeat of humanity.

Meet the first of our three Center for World Music heroes: an all-star volunteer and generous donor, Vanya Russell!

Hi Vanya, can you tell us where you are from?
I am from Sofia, Bulgaria. I came to the U.S. in 1985 and moved to San Diego 1992.

As a volunteer, what have been some of the most memorable Center events you’ve participated in?
In Spring of 2016, I visited two classes at the San Diego French-American School, where Marie Hayes was teaching Bulgarian folk song. I was amazed at the dedication of the students to learn this difficult material. Marie Hayes did a very good job. At the end of the school year, I went to their concert and was touched to tears!

I have [also] volunteered at six CWM concerts at the Kalabash School of Music and Art. I am very impressed how well these concerts were organized, and how well they were attended, in addition to the diversity and quality of the presenters.

What was the most recent event you volunteered for? What did you think?
The “Music of Burma” event. For me, it was very touching, very special to interact with the young refugees. [You can see Vanya in the picture above posing with a dancer from this performance.]

When did you first encounter the Center for World Music (CWM)?
I learned about the CWM from a friend of mine who is a former volunteer for the Downtown Information Center. He met Monica, learned about the CWM, and suggested I get involved in volunteering. Monica and I met in fall 2015.

How do you see the Center contributing to San Diego communities?
For a small organization, the Center for World Music has spread its wing all over San Diego. Remarkable!

Thank you, Vanya Russell.

Join Vanya Russell and support programs for San Diego children in most danger of losing their access to cross-cultural music education.