Short-term exchange of pupils in Bulgaria
1st teambuilding camp was held in Chelopech, Bulgaria. 24 students and 8 teachers met there to make a strong team and fulfil our aim of the project - give students a chance to speak English while playing teambuilding games.
Three countries met in Sofia where were picked up by Bulgarian coordinator Alek and seated on the bus. Then we headed to Hotel Borova Gora, where we spent 5 days.
After breakfast we set off for the visit of our partners´ school in Chelopech. Students and teachers gave us a warm welcome and prepared a short performance full of dances and songs. All the participants got project T-shirts with badges. We played a few ice-breaking games to break shyness and get to know everybody better. In the afternoon, we visited one of the oldest neolitic places in Europe, where we learnt how people used to live in the past and which tools they used to use. During the evening other students, teachers and even parents came to our hotel for the welcome party. Each country presented their homeland, town and school.
Today we started the day with a visit of municipality of Chelopech. We were warmly welcomed by the local mayor who wished us success in our project. Small refreshment has been prepared for all the studnets. After that we set off for the local mine copper company were we watched a film about mining. Unfortunately we were not allowed to see the "interior of the mine" because an unexpected situation happened and the management ordered to close the mine.
Do you know what "martenitsi is"? No? In Bulgaria it means a sort of decoration made of red and white string which represents the messenger of Spring. You can find martenitsi decorating trees or branches as well as people´s wrists. Our students got the task to decorate a litlle branch with martenitsi and I think they did a good job :-). Learning Bulgarian traditition was over at all. Our partners prepared a dance class with some of the typical traditional dances. You may not believe it, but we managed to try 5 dances. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed a taste a bit of local culture. After dinner we continued playing teambuilding games. We are looking for tomorrow because the trip to Koprivshtitsa is waiting for us. Good night.
The village Koprivshtitsa is one of the most famous villages in whole Bulgaria. Not only for its own historical and rich culture, but this village played an important role in the past too. The village has got a large number of architectural monuments from the period, 383 in all, most of which have been restored to their original appearance. It was here that the first shot of the April Uprising against the Ottoman domination was fired in 1876.
As we love plying games, this village became an ideal place to play one. We created four teams and each was given a map with 4 locations to be found in the shortest time. As a prove of visiting the place, the members had to record a short video decribing the place in English. Moreover, they had to manage to take at least one selfie with a local inhabitant. One group got the most valuable picture with a local priest. During the game, the players were spied by the dron flying over their heads and professional video maker guy who mapped and recorded the game. The video will serve for dissemination of our project.
Back in Chelopech, we played another interesting game. Each team got the mission which required communication, creativity and ideas to solve the task. The teams were supposed to come up with a parachute which would bring the egg safely on the ground. The jury consisting of teachers evaluated a design and function of he apparatus. After one hour we gathered in front of the building and tested the designed prototyps. How many do you think passed the test? All four? Two? Sorry... Only one parachute was constructed well enough to fullfil the mission.
After dinner, Bulgarian friends came to join us and at 8 pm the disco could started. While teenagers were on the wave of music, teachers were going through the organization of tomorrow programme and were disccussing other project matters.
This day was planned as a hicking trip to the beautiful mountains surrounding the inhabited area. Unfortunately the weather ruined our expectation. Late snow covering the mountain peaks was enough for the bus driver to take us to the starting point. The plan was changed and we walked to the nearby view instead. The weather was fantastic and we had an amazing view of the mountain in front of us. When we arrived to the spot, guess what? Yes,.... we played another teambuilding game... called "The shepherd and blind sheep". And because we didn´t have enough we played other games back at the hotel.
The last evening arrived and farewell started. The certificated were handed over, many thanks were said and lots of tears were spilt. At 10 pm Bulgarians left and Turkish, Czechs and Romanians were talking late to the night. I clearly remember one moment when Adéla (Czech student) came to me and said in tears, "Teacher we are like a family, like we know each other from the childhood....and the worst thing is that we have no chance to meet again´. And she burst out crying once more. This was the moment when I realised that all the hard work we did was worth it.
Hey guys!!! We will get up at 6.30 tomorrow, check your alarm clock. Breakfast will be ready at 7 and then be ready to leave at 8. Yes, these were instruction from yesterday evening. Breakfast at 7 and departure at 8 directly to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria. There we had demanding programme. First we visited "Музейко - Muzeiko", an interractive museum presenting three time eras - the past, the present and the future. The students didn´t just listent to the guide but got some missions to do.
In the afternoon we couldn´t miss to explore the capital city of Sofia and visit some of the most famous sights. We said goodbye to our Turkish friends who left home and our most awaited time had come. SHOPPING. So far we hadn´t had occasion to buy some souvenirs or pieces of clothes to take home. So we spent the time hunting the presents and then we returned to the hotel. Czechs and Romanians spent all the night partying in one room and finaly they all fell asleep there.
Romanians left early in the morning. Czechs went by tube to the airport and Bulgarians went back to Chelopech. Goodbye our friends, take care and have a safe journey home.
Thank you for the time we spent together and for the moments we will never forget. We are looking forward to Czech.
Enjoy the photos by: