Thursday, September 15, 2011

Another School Year Begins...

Today was the first official day of the school year in Bulgaria. This is a huge event, as you can tell in Sofia from the jam-packed metro cars, hordes of small children bearing flowers to give to their teachers, and later, flower-laden teachers walking home from school. There is usually an opening ceremony to welcome new students, introduce guest speakers and kick off the new year. My school is definitely one of the more unique ones in Bulgaria and because of that our speakers came from diverse backgrounds. I work at 134-то СОУ "Dimcho Debelyanov," also known as the Jewish School in Sofia, as it offers both Hebrew and English language instruction. This is one of the more elite language schools in the country, and it has a prestigious reputation. Representatives from the U.S. Embassy, the Israeli Embassy, the Bulgarian Shalom organization, the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation and the Bulgarian Ministry of Education all gave short speeches at the event. The Vice President of the Lauder Foundation told me that along with another school in Berlin, our school serves as a model for integrated multicultural education in Europe. They also have a very high-tech multimedia center with video-editing equipment, a school radio station and photography studio. Many graduating seniors go on to universities in the United States or the United Kingdom. And I am the first Fulbright ETA they have ever had. So I'm definitely feeling a bit intimidated by all that, but I'm also happy to be a part of what seems to be a very energetic and well-integrated school community. Luckily for me, I have the day off tomorrow, but Saturday is a school day due to the upcoming four-day weekend. Yeah, we have to come in on Saturdays when we miss a day of school for public holidays. But Saturday is also a special day for another reason: my name day, or imen den in Bulgarian, which is the day celebrated for people named after St. Sofia of the Orthodox church. It's sort of like having a second birthday, and I'm planning to get some friends together  and celebrate!

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