Benatov '03 learns 6th language: American

by Tracy Landers | 6/27/01 5:00am

A high school student in Bulgaria's capital, Sophia, Latchezar Benatov '03 had mastered English, French, Russian, and Hebrew.

His love of languages did not stop there: Benatov, known as "Latcho" by friends, began studying the Indo-European proto-language, which has been reconstructed from and is the root of Hindi, Romance, Slavic and Germanic language.

By his sophomore year, his mastery of languages landed Benatov a job as a translator that eventually led to his translating the plans for civil projects and government proposals, such as the document that outlined the construction of Bulgaria's new airport.

Now in his sophomore summer, Benatov hopes for a future that will include a Ph.D. in physics, with the goal of teaching and continuing his research. Benatov's main interest is in nuclear and elementary particle physics, which will be the focus of his double major in physics and math.

But his days of translating continue to influence him, Benatov said.

As the only high school student and the youngest employee of the translating corporation, Benatov said the work taught him much about how to interact with adults in the work environment.

One of Benatov's main reasons for becoming a translator, a job which he continues when he goes home during his off terms, was to earn money in order to attend college in the United States.

"Coming to the United States has been my desire from the ninth grade," Benatov said.

"In Bulgaria, higher education is in transition. People in college in the big city do not have a real campus, they only take classes, but there is no social life or community," Benatov said as he compared Dartmouth positively to the Bulgarian system.

"People who live in the River dorms, I can't understand their complaints [at having to traverse campus]. In Sophia, getting to class even with a b-ike is dangerous because of the horrible traffic," he commented.

Due to the great distance between Dartmouth and Bulgaria, Benatov, an only child, rarely gets the chance to go home.

"I miss my family and friends, and the food, the mountains, the trees and flowers, which are all different from here," Benatov said of his homeland.

Benatov had only good things to say about Dartmouth and the people here, whom he said have made him feel very welcome.

"I like the atmosphere on campus. People are more open and outgoing [than in Bulgaria], there is more interaction with strangers, which is very helpful for people who are new," Benatov noted.

"The fact that you can go out of the dorm and sit on the grass and go down to the river is one of my favorite parts of Dartmouth," he added.

Benatov was recently elected to Amarna's vice president. He said he enjoys the diversity of the co-ed house.

One difference Benatov said surprised him when he came to school at Dartmouth was the "hook-up" culture, which he said does not exist in Bulgaria.After graduating from Dartmouth Benatov sees himself staying in the United States.

"It's very likely that I'll be here, because there are lots of opportunities to do research."