News and Events

100 Days in Bulgaria

On January 16-18, the Fulbright Commission conducted its annual midyear conference for American grantees, “100 Days in Bulgaria”. The meeting gathered 32 English teaching assistants, 6 student-researchers, and 3 scholars, who presented their projects in Bulgaria, and their accomplishments to date. Fulbright scholars had around 15 minutes to briefly introduce their projects in diverse fields such as genetics, philosophy, archaeology, anthropology, water management, and music (flute and piano). Traditionally, the English teaching assistants had prepared 2-minute videos about their life and work in Bulgaria , played one after another at dimmed lights for a true cinematic experience!

Apart
from project presentations and opportunities to mingle and find out more about
each other’s assignments, the conference offered specialized support sessions
for the grantees, designed to provide some fresh ideas and perspectives for
them to use in their remaining time in Bulgaria. Such was the discussion with Dimiter
Kenarov, writer and journalist, Martin Dimitrov, journalist, and Prudence
Salasky, and ETA and former journalist, on starting and running a creative
writing or journalism club at school. Prue Salasky shared her experience as
founder of the online newspaper at the “Geo Milev” English Language School in
Burgas, while Dimiter Kenarov and Martin Dimitrov gave their insights on finding
good stories, inspiring young writers and helping  them develop the necessary professional skills
and ethics. Martin Dimitrov is currently the editor-in-chief at sCool Media, a
nationwide platform for student journalism, designed by the Association of
European Journalist-Bulgaria. Another discussion-based session, with psychologists
Anna Joukivskaia and Ronald Harvey, explored the topics of teen psychology,
work-related stress, and handling cultural adjustment.

The conference weekend offered some professional development training for the young assistant-teachers, and more fun for the scholars and student-researchers, who enjoyed a team building activity hosted by our friends at Sofia Bread House. English Language Fellow Scott Farmer, based in Sliven, led fun and interactive workshops for the ETAs on lesson planning and diversifying lesson content, while our special guest Kevin McCaughey taught ETAs how to make the best use of their Activate Games packets – an assembly of teaching materials provided by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Kevin McCaughey has recently taken over from Jen MacArthur as the head of the Regional English Language Office at the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, working with 16 countries in the Balkans, Central Europe, and the Baltics on improving English language learning and programming.

The
midyear conference was honored by a strong group of representatives of the
America for Bulgaria Foundation, which has been the main sponsor of the program
for English teaching assistants in Bulgaria since 2010 – Gail Buyske, Board
Member; Nancy Schiller, President; Desislava Taliokova, Executive Director;
Natalia Miteva, Program Director Education / Developing and Retaining Human
Capital; Sylvia Zareva, Newsletter Editor; Ivo Bossev, Impact
Assessment and Evaluation Officer. Ivana Bankovic, Regional English Language Office
Assistant at the U.S. Embassy, Belgrade, was also our honorable guest.

Our
growing in popularity Fulbright Talent Show this time featured over 20
performances by Bulgarian and American Fulbrighters and alumni, and Board and
family members! From classical music, rap, poetry recitals, lip sync battle and
performances on piano, flute, ukulele, tambura and kaval – our Fulbrighters
displayed many talents and our supportive audience enjoyed all of them! The
evening of celebration also collected some donations in support of the Alumni
Top-Up Fellowship, which will help fund the travel of one Bulgarian grantee to
the U.S.

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