We traditionally held our in-country Orientation for American Fulbrighters on September 1-8, 2022. The Commission Executive Director Angela Rodel and Elena Yanakieva, Program Expert at the  America for Bulgaria Foundation, welcomed the new cohort of 38 English teaching assistants, 2 scholars and 1 student reseracher.

The new grantees participated in an intensive Bulgarian language course, cultural awareness discussions and teaching methodology workshops. They were introduced to various aspects of school life by our 8 returning ETAs, who will be serving a second year as Fulbright assistant teachers in Bulgaria – Amanda Adinolfi, Ben Custer, Julia Lynch, Kadia King, Michael Smith, Morgan Rowe, Pearl Morttey and Sophia Brewer-Thompson.

Representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Sofia also joined Orientation to meet with the new Fulbrighters – Jeffrey Weinshenker, Public Affairs Officer; Julia Corby, Consul; Christopher Belmonti, Regional Security Officer and Dr. Lyubomir Spassov, Medical Officer, shared some words of advice with the cohort. But it was everyone’s surprise when they were joined by HE Herro Mustafa, Ambassador of the United States to Bulgaria, who happily spent some time chatting with the excited grantees, answering their questions about her own experiences as an exchange programs participant and her current work and priorities.

Grantees also had the opportunity to meet with representatives of Fulbright partner organizations such as the American Councils in Bulgaria (YES), American University in Bulgaria, BEST Foundation, Bulgarian Reading Association: High School Exchange Programs in USA (ASSIST, Davis) and UK (HMC), CORPluS Foundation for Education and Development, Association of European Journalists-Bulgaria and sCool Media, Trust for Social Achievement and Junior Achievement – Bulgaria. The Fulbrighters also tried their first traditional Bulgarian dishes at Vodenitsata restaurant, watched the fire-walking show in awe and learned survival horo dancing skills – the steps of Pravo and Gankino horo! And for the first time since the start of the pandemic, our Bulgarian ETA mentor teachers joined us for the last two Orientation days for in-person introductions, Mentor Teachers’ Orientation and joint sessions on intercultural communication and understanding.

After a week of studying and cultural immersion, the whole cohort was welcomed at The Steps by Ivan Dimov, founder and chairman of the Executive Board of The Single Step Foundation, for our farewell party. Atanas Pekanov, Deputy Prime Minister for the Management of EU funds of the Republic of Bulgaria and Nancy Schiller, President and CEO of the America for Bulgaria Foundation, addressed the new Fulbright fellows and wished them good luck and a rewarding and successful year in Bulgaria. The Fulbright Choir, led by Angela Rodel, once again wowed the audience with beautiful performances of Polegnala e Todora and Makedonsko Devoyche.

With special thanks to our sponsors and partners – the America for Bulgaria Foundation, as well as Contour Global Maritsa Iztok 3, Asarel-Medet Ltd., Optiocoelectron Ltd., the Tsotsorkov Foundation and the Bulgarian Memory Foundation.