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The Magazine of the American University in Bulgaria, Issue 51, 2014

PERSPECTIVES IN THIS ISSUE: AUBG as a Way of Life

AUBG at the Top Again

ABF Named Building of the Year

Our Alumni in Action


The Magazine of the American University in Bulgaria, Issue 51, 2014

PERSPECTIVES IN THIS ISSUE: AUBG As a Way of Life

AUBG at the Top Again

ABF Named Building of the Year

Our Alumni in Action

Editorial Board Venera Nikolaeva Pavlina Stoycheva Toma Tetimov Albena Kehayova

Copyright 2014 AUBG. All rights reserved.

Writers Daniel Penev Ksenia Lukanova Nelly Ovcharova Nikoleta Gancheva Petya Hristova Yana Aladzhova Yoana Savova Photographers Anastasiia Hryshchenko Ann Snesareva Anna Bashuk Darya Yanitskaya Elena Zhdanova Igor Myakotin Kateryna Kostiuchenko Petya Hristova Stanislav Hristov Sylvia Zareva Yana Aladzhova Published by AUBG with the participation of AUBG students. For more information, please see the contact information on the back.


CONTENTS: IN FOCUS

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NEW FACES

04

LIBERAL ARTS IN ACTION

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NEWS@AUBG 15

A VIBRANT COMMUNITY

24

THEY MAKE US PROUD

30

FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS

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IN FOCUS AUBG as a Way of Life More than 20 years ago AUBG was established as the first post-communist tool of international educational outreach for the young generation of the region and beyond. It was born to promote modern liberal arts education in a nascent democracy. Since day one its mission and vocation has been to prepare its students for the unforeseen challenges of the 21st century. For over two decades now, AUBG alumni step into their adult life and career development as confident, well-educated and open-minded individuals, as people of the world.

IN FOCUS

Internationalization and globalization have become an integral part of modern living and continue to increase in importance. Today we face common globalized threats coming from unstable political regions, cyberspace, energy supply routes, etc. The global nature of many widely diverse modern problems such as the environment, poverty, international terrorism calls for a globalized approach to crises and conflicts. The need to deepen the understanding among peoples, cultures and faiths has never been more important. Intercultural communication is no longer an option, but a necessity, since the ability to navigate cultural differences is key in preventing conflicts of any nature and essential to effective

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decision-making and good governance domestically and globally. The first response to managing these challenges is education – both in the academic and in the broader sense. AUBG has always been conscious of the changing realities and responsive to the imperative demand for a new kind of knowledge and skills that shape the present-day young leaders and managers. The University has become a catalyst for innovative thinking. It sets standards across the higher-education system and always ranks first in college quality surveys in the country. AUBG provides not just education and excellent teaching but also a unique environment for the students to interact and maintain an open and stimulating debate with their professors and among peers on the pressing issues of the day. It is to noone’s surprise, therefore, that AUBG alumni are in highest demand on the national job market.


Elena Poptodorova Deputy Chair, AUBG Board of Trustees Ambassador Elena Poptodorova is currently the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Bulgaria to the United States, a post she also held between 2002 and 2008. Prior to her second appointment as Ambassador to the US, she served as Director of the Security Policy Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ambassadorat-large for the Black Sea Region (2008-2010). She was a member of the Bulgarian National Assembly from 1990 to 2001, where she served on the Committees on Foreign Relations, Radio and Television, National Security, Agrarian Reform, and the Bulgarian National Assembly. She was also a member of the Bulgarian Delegation to the Council of Europe from 1995 to 2001. From 1987 to 1990, she was Minister Plenipotentiary at the Bulgarian Embassy in Rome. In June 2001, she joined the diplomatic service again and was the Director of the Directorate of Human Rights of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the ministry’s spokesperson. She received her M.A. in Letters from Sofia University and is an Honorary Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. As of October 2013, Ambassador Poptodorova is also the Deputy Chair of AUBG Board of Trustees.

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IN FOCUS

AUBG is more than a university. AUBG goes beyond formal higher education. It is about a vibrant and diverse students’ community of immense potential and bright prospects of professional accomplishment and personal fulfillment. It is about a new mentality and a new way of life in a new era, the era of hightech and intensive social communication. It is about an AUBG identity embodying the values of integrity, freedom of thought and expression, and civic responsibility. More than 3,600 students have already graduated from AUBG. They parted with their Alma Mater well-prepared for democratic and ethical leadership in serving the needs of their countries and of the world. A quick look at the alumni lists shows that they can be found everywhere, in every part of the world, recruited in important positions on the basis of the knowledge and skills acquired at AUBG. They are succeeded by new young students on campus who continue upholding the AUBG identity. The other name of AUBG is hope for a better future.

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NEW FACES FACULTY students for becoming well-rounded cosmopolitan citizens. “Everything from interacting with foreigners to going on Work & Travel teaches you how to manage things.” Apart from a tight academic schedule, Marenglen served as a senator in the Student Government and a Student Representative to the Business Department in his senior year. While he was engaged in a W&T program in Provincetown, he met his future boss. She offered him a job as a manager of her computer stores in New York and he readily accepted. Meanwhile he enrolled in an MBA program with a concentration in Accounting at the Keller Graduate School of Management.

Marenglen Berisha, Kosovo Instructor of Business Back to AUBG There are always AUBGers who return to campus, visit friends, attend guest-lectures, participate in alumni reunions. But some return to stay longer, as is the case with Marenglen Berisha, class of 2006 and a newly appointed accounting professor at the university.

NEW FACES

Born in Prishtina, capital of the Republic of Kosovo, Marenglen had his first international experience while still in high school. In 2001 he participated in the Harvard Model United Nations conference held in Boston, US. Upon returning to his homeland, Marenglen organized similar Model UN events together with his friends (and raised awareness about the idea). Fresh out of high school, Marenglen enrolled at AUBG where he “studied with the best students from the region.” He majored in Business Administration and minored in Information Systems. “I like numbers. Math was actually the reason why I was accepted here. And while I was thinking about taking Computer Science, I decided to major in Business Administration, which matched perfectly with my Information Systems minor, though all of my friends were COS majors,” Marenglen confesses. He enjoyed every aspect of AUBG and believes that it prepares 04

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In 2008, persuaded by some of his friends, the nostalgia for his family back home and his love of small cities, Marenglen returned to Kosovo. “I started working for the largest bank and largest private company in Kosovo – ProCredit Bank. It was the first place I applied to and I got the job,” he reminisces. He started working as a financial reporting officer (a job that perfectly fit his BA and Master’s qualifications) and then coordinator but in two years’ time he was promoted to head of the risk management department. During that time he started teaching part-time at the AAB RIINVEST University and Staffordshire University in Prishtina where he taught accounting classes in English to both domestic and international students. He enjoyed teaching to the extent that he left his job and devoted all his time and attention to academics. It was then when he first started contemplating the opportunity of working at AUBG. Shortly after he was accepted once more to his Alma Mater – this time as a professor. Marenglen enjoys living in Blagoevgrad and Bulgaria. “I like New York but there you lose a lot of time on things you shouldn’t. Here I can just call a friend and in five minutes we’ll be having coffee,” he shares. “Also, in Bulgaria I have never had problems as a foreigner, I feel like I’m from here.” Story by Yoana Savova


States has equipped him with all the necessary skills to become an authority in the classroom. Business majors at AUBG can thus discover the link between the class material and the real world of business in the 21st century. Studying and working in the United States, including a four-year job in the International Monetary Fund, have exposed Professor Nedelchev to a totally different world. “I would say having a healthy, mature, and responsible attitude toward your duties – either as a student, or as a working professional – is the number one asset one can develop and acquire in the United States,” Nedelchev emphasizes. “Work ethic and work culture are paramount, and are ultimately what makes the difference between successful and unsuccessful professionals – and societies.”

Professor of Business Step Outside Your Comfort Zone Now Nickolay Nedelchev joined the faculty of the American University in Bulgaria in the Fall of 2013. Even though he is new to the teaching profession, his solid academic and professional experience in the United

Why does a person that has already settled down in the private sector, with a well-paid job and bright prospects for future career advancement, decide to move to the teaching profession? “An interesting opportunity for a finance professor presented itself in the summer of 2013 through a fellow AUBG professor, who is also a good friend of mine,” Nedelchev explains. He didn’t think twice before he applied for the job. Professor Nedelchev believes AUBG students receive a living and learning experience that will later enable them to prosper in the highly competitive world today. He stresses that “AUBG students have good prospects provided they learn to think truly globally.” While the liberal arts system of education “creates well-rounded individuals,” AUBG students should take their individual responsibility to “step outside their comfort zone, go the extra mile, and see how far and how high they can reach.” And why not also follow professor Nedelchev’s motto: “do more and do good!” Story by Daniel Penev

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Nickolay Nedelchev, Bulgaria

His early contact with another culture pushed him to explore his surroundings and acquire skills for life. “Travelling really endows one with a broader, richer, and deeper perspective,” he says. “To leave your own country and speak another language (or two) gives you the unique opportunity to develop your mind and tap its considerable potential.”

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in Fordham University. “The atmosphere at AUBG is very friendly and collegial,” Mavlanova said at the beginning of her second semester of teaching at AUBG. “I am also happy to be surrounded by accomplished faculty members and supportive staff.” But it is the students that make teaching at AUBG such an incredible and fulfilling experience. She shares that their eagerness and enthusiasm to gain knowledge and perfect their skills is ”contagious” and provides for a stimulating environment.

Tamilla Mavlanova, Uzbekistan Professor of Business AUBG is a Truly Global Place This fall AUBG welcomed Tamilla Mavlanova – a new addition to the Business Department faculty. Her smiling face and genuine personality will immediately grab your attention. On top of that, she will impress you with her skills and in-depth knowledge in the field of management as she is teaching Management Information Systems and Managing Social Media.

NEW FACES

Before coming here, Mavlanova was a professor of business and information management for MBA and undergraduate students in the City University of New York, where she had received her PhD, and

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“AUBG is a truly global place,” she says, pointing out that the diversity of the student body and faculty and the strong alumni network that is spread all around the world makes it possible for students to get acquainted with different cultures. “They boldly seize the opportunities to do internships in foreign companies or work abroad during summertime.” She believes the global perspective that AUBG provides to its students both in and outside of the classroom is one of its greatest strengths. In her courses she acquaints her students with case studies that are similar to the ones that global companies deal with in real life. She believes that such real-life-based cases “engage students in the process of designing better solutions for companies locally and globally,” but also help them apply those lessons in the real world. Mavlanova considers AUBG an outstanding and unique place where “strong social ties are developed and lasting friendships are build.” She notes that there is a special bond between students and professors at AUBG, in which the latter are not just instructors, but also mentors and providers of valuable guidance and advice. And she is up to the challenge of fitting into such a role. Story by Yana Aladzhova


STUDENTS Eastern Europe is a lot different from anywhere else I have lived.” A single semester proved more than enough for Sieun to appreciate the quality of the courses and the extensive expertise of the faculty at AUBG. The multiple nationalities present in the Skaptopara campus have further exposed her to diverse languages and traditions, minus the fatigue accompanying long trips. “AUBG boasts an environment similar to a small globe,” Sieun explains. “You can have a taste of all the parts of the world represented on campus. This aspect enhances a student’s living and learning experience immensely.”

Sieun Lim ’16 South Korea From South Korea through China to AUBG Sieun Lim is a transfer student at the American University in Bulgaria with a significant international experience. This gave her a flying start when it comes to fitting into the university’s atmosphere especially a globally oriented worldview and respect for different cultures.

The ever-evolving technologies and means of transportation have made cultural diversity the rule rather than the exception in the 21st century. In addition, exchange programs have become increasingly more accessible, exposing students to rapidly developing political, economic, social, and cultural circumstances. Even though Sieun herself is still “trying to figure out how to thrive under these changing conditions,” she advises current and prospective AUBG students to develop personally as well as academically because “who you are is really the foundation of what you will do.” Where does she see herself in a few years’ time? “I can really only imagine myself working in the education field,” Sieun says. “I am also very interested in South-American culture, so I may settle down there in the future.” Story by Daniel Penev

Born in South Korea, Sieun Lim moved to Saipan at the age of fourteen, where she lived together with an American family. Over the next five years, Sieun lived and studied in Saipan, Rota and China. Having started her higher education at the United International College in China, Sieun transferred to AUBG in the Fall 2013 semester to pursue a degree in political science and international relations.

“I chose AUBG because of the unique location and the opportunity for an American-style education in Eastern Europe,” Sieun points out. She admits to having experienced a cultural shock in the beginning. “Nothing in particular has really shocked me. However, I have had a kind of a cultural shock as 07

NEW FACES

Sieun has so far had the opportunity to fulfill the validity of the old saying “travel broadens the mind.” “I’ve been blessed to travel to places like Malaysia, Israel, and the Philippines,” Sieun says. Living and studying away from home has helped her become proficient in English and Chinese.

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spot in her list of accomplishments is devoted to the third place from the Republican Presidential Exact Science Olympiad in Kazakhstan. Interesting enough, she is not thinking of making a math major but has turned her attention to field of political science.

Indira Urazova ’17 Kazakhstan AUBG is a Place Where You Can Really Express Yourself! Indira Urazova is a first-year student at the American University in Bulgaria. She was born in Uralsk, Kazakhstan in 1995 and her coming to this university was not a coincidence. “Back at my home country, AUBG is a desired place to continue your education and furthermore, my sister studies here,” she shares.

NEW FACES

Like so many AUBG students, Indira is a person with a variety of talents. One of the first clubs that she joined upon her arrival at AUBG was the choir of the university as music has always been an important part of her life. “I played the violin for 9 years,” Indira explains. Together with the ensemble she was part of, she participated in several contests. In one of the competitions they were crowned republican champions, and in another they took second place. An area of particular interest for the multi-talented girl is natural sciences. “I am good at math,” Indira shares with passion in her voice. Back at home, she has participated in many Olympiads and has won numerous awards from local and regional contests. Her outstanding performance has won her gold medals at all city Olympiads from 2009 to 2013. Moreover, she took part in a group math contest and her team took first place in three consecutive years, from 2011 to 2013. A prominent

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According to Indira, “AUBG is a place where you can really express yourself.” Be it through participation in artistic activities such as the musicals and numerous plays that are being staged on campus, or through involvement in organizations as BLIMUN or AIESEC. She is also planning to visit the US through the Work and Travel program. Indira likes the fact that the people in the university are “so diverse and enthusiastic,” and that she can receive much more than an academic excellence. She considers AUBG to be “the perfect multinational community, where each student learns about other cultures through communicating with people from different countries.” Story by Yana Aladzhova


When asked “Why AUBG,” Nail shares: “When I was a little boy, I used to come to Rila with my grandfather during my summer vacations. Every time when we passed by AUBG I was wondering what this place is until once I asked my grandfather about it. “It is an American University” – he said. “I want to study there,” I exclaimed and this became my dream ever since.” Moreover, Nail explains that while all of his friends wanted to go to the traditional Ivy League universities, he has chosen AUBG, because it is a university that is building its history at the moment, by developing bright and talented students. “I believe that young people should go to dynamic universities that are not lingering on history and what it was, but rather at what will be. This is the only way to fully discover one’s potential,” says Nail enthusiastically.

Bulgaria AUBG is Building its History at the Moment by Developing Bright and Talented Students Bulgarian by birth, having spent sixteen years of his life in the Arab countries and graduated high school in France, Nail Mekhazni is now a first-year student at AUBG, determined to conquer the academic heights of the liberal arts education. The 18-yearold adventurer loves history, sports and, above all, travelling – he has been on all continents around the world except for the Americas. He speaks French, English, Bulgarian and Arabic and he is always eager to discover new cultures and visit new places.

Despite his young age, he is already a veteran at globalization, and as such he has a few words of advice for AUBG students who want to succeed in our quickly developing international world: “Students should be open minded and should go out of their comfort zone. They should be social and should not be afraid to go out alone and make new friends. And above all, they should do what they have to do and always look at life with a smile.” Story by Nelly Ovcharova

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Nail Mekhazni ’17

Nail is still exploring his academic environment, but he is considering the possibility of pursuing a Journalism and Mass Communication major, as both of his parents work in television. He enjoys the diversity at AUBG and the chance to learn many new things. Furthermore, he is grateful to his Exposition teacher professor Terziev, who helped him to easily adapt to the educational system and to the dynamics of studies. “Since I am used to living on my own, because of the time spent in France, I find the AUBG lifestyle refreshing. The social interactions, the quality of campus, the chance to develop as a person and to take responsibility for my actions and choices is extremely important, and I believe that AUBG provides its students with the grounds to experience this,” says Nail about what he likes most at AUBG.

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LIBERAL ARTS IN ACTION At AUBG We Change Lives and Open New Worlds When I’m not teaching aspiring journalists and documentary filmmakers at AUBG, my job is to tell stories. I will go anywhere and do anything to interview the right person or shoot the right footage. It’s what I do.

International Documentary Festival of Amsterdam (IDFA), Thessaloniki International Documentary Film Festival and the Sofia International Film Festival for meetings and even my own film premieres. I introduce students not just to directors, producers, editors and cinematographers, but also to the buyers, agents, and festival programmers who make the film industry go. These international experiences are woven into the fabric of everything I do at AUBG. Recently, a Serbian filmmaker came to Blagoevgrad for my weekly “Documentary Film and Lecture Series.” Ivana Todorovic screened her film and the next day held a

Melody Gilbert, USA Chair of the Journalism and Mass Communication Department

LIBERAL ARTS IN ACTION

Sometimes I have to overcome a lot to get what I want. I once had my wallet stolen at a London pub the night before a shoot. Didn’t matter. I hopped a train the next morning to Liverpool because the thieves stole my purse but they didn’t steal my camera. Filmmaking, you see, is more than just finding interesting people and sharing their stories. It’s about perseverance, technical skills, and making professional connections. And it’s about business, too. Over the past 15 years, I have crossed the globe screening films at festivals and markets. The business side of filmmaking is important, but it’s not the part that most students think about. I always tell them, “When you are done making your film, you are only halfway done.” They don’t usually believe me. But since arriving at AUBG in 2011, I’ve done my best to open their eyes. I’ve led student trips to places like the 10

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A few weeks after Todorovic’s visit, a US sound designer came to AUBG to speak to my documentary filmmaking class. Jesse Marks, who has worked on some of my films, told stories about filmmaking and showed examples of sound design. His visit inspired many students to become contributors to his website, “The Touch of Sound” (www.thetouchofsound.com). Perhaps my favorite example of students learning from international experiences comes from Dumiri-

ta Pacicovschi ’14. Dumi, a JMC student from Moldova, was one of the many students who visited film festivals with me since I arrived at AUBG. Because of that exposure, she proposed doing her JMC professional internship at a film festival. I contacted the programmer from Thessaloniki Documentary Festival to ask if he could use her help. The result – for the first time in the history of that festival, they accepted a non-Greek student as an intern. Dumi spent the Fall 2013 semester in Athens pre-screening films and writing summaries and recommendations. She even stepped in at the last minute as the organizer of the Balkan Survey section during the international festival in Thessaloniki. She said the experience has changed her life. This is what we’re doing: changing lives, opening new worlds, and sharing in the joy of discovery. I could not be more proud to be a part of it. Melody Gilbert is the Chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communications and documentary filmmaker (www.frozenfeetfilms.com).

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LIBERAL ARTS IN ACTION

master class for AUBG Documentary Club students. During that seminar, she encouraged them to enter a filmmaking contest. JMC students Rafie Drencheva ’14 and Hristiana Kirova ’14 took the challenge, submitted a proposal and were selected as finalists in the “Europe at Heart” competition. They were interviewed by a TV crew in Sofia, flown to Brussels to meet with EU ministers, and their excellent short film about a father and son farming team in Bulgaria will be part of a larger documentary that will screen internationally and be used for training and education.

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AUBG IS A HIGHLY INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE IN ITSELF Having been a faculty member at AUBG for more than eight years, I think I should, first of all, emphasize that AUBG is by itself a highly international experience. The diversity one can find at AUBG within both the faculty and the student body, is unmatched. Apart from a day-to-day experience in the class, the university also celebrates its international character on several occasions, such as the international week or workshops, including diversity trainings that focus on different ways and methods to deal with cultural and national differences, which is not always easy. In addition to the international experience on campus, AUBG offers to faculty as well as students various opportunities to enrich this experience in other environments. One of these opportunities is the Erasmus exchange program. I have already had the possibility to participate in it three times. In 2007 and in 2010 each, I spent a week as a visiting professor at the History Department of the University of Pécs, Hungary. Last September I was given the chance to teach for one week at Winchester University, UK. In both countries I was able to familiarize myself with highly different teaching cultures, with Hungary certainly being the more “traditional” one, whereas in Winchester the experience had a lot in common with

Markus Wien, Germany Professor of History

the American model. In particular, Winchester provides more of a campus atmosphere in contrast to Pécs, where the university is virtually spread all over the town. The classroom experience was not very different though, and also very similar to AUBG. The group size in Pécs, in Winchester and at AUBG is usually between 15 and 30 students. Apart from that, the lecturing style and the way students get involved in class is very similar. Concerning the teaching language, the University of Pécs proved to be the most flexible one: apart from Hungarian and English, German was also accepted, in some cases even preferred.

LIBERAL ARTS IN ACTION

Finally, I can say that one of my greatest benefits from these exchanges was to see that AUBG is really up to or even better than the international teaching standards and has a good standing among the European universities.

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A THOROUGH APPROACH TO FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING BROADENS PERSPECTIVES As an instructor of French, my main goal is to make students acquire not only linguistic knowledge and skills, but also the ability to communicate successfully in an intercultural environment. I hope that with my continuing commitment to research and cooperation on academic projects on international level, I help my students broaden their perspectives and become better prepared to participate in global events and interactions. Throughout my teaching career, I have had the opportunity to participate in numerous international trainings, seminars, and conferences. I attended several trainings in France such as the International College in Cannes, CLA in Besançon, and IUFM in Aix-en-Provence and also presented papers at international conferences in Barcelona, Bucharest, and Sofia, to name a few. In addition, as part of my previous professional experience in the area of international academic cooperation, I visited many universities in Europe and Canada, which gave me the opportunity to compare different educational cultures.

Krastanka Bozhinova, Bulgaria Instructor of French language

students aware of similarities and differences between French and the languages they have learnt before. I have also adopted a student centered approach, providing opportunities for group interaction and encouraging the use of technology not only for individual practice, but also for collaborative projects. For example, my EU Terminology classes included a simulation game every spring, while other classes were part of and won prizes in international writing, photo, and poster competitions. In addition, I have helped several students apply and prepare for a Summer Cultural Program in France sponsored by the Lions Clubs de France. In my classes, I do my best to prepare students to autonomously develop their skills and put them into practice when needed. It warms my heart to hear stories of successes and achievements from students who go on Erasmus exchange or from those who pursue a master program or work in France, Belgium, Canada, and other French-speaking countries.

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I recently completed a research-oriented program at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in France and I am currently working on a PhD thesis at CRINI (Centre de recherche sur les identitiés nationales et l’interculturalité). I also cooperate very actively with CREFECO (Centre régional francophone pour l’Europe centrale et orientale). My research activities are closely related to teaching and learning languages and in this way I get to know better my students’ needs, keep informed about innovation in this field, and work on developing new and more effective techniques. Being particularly interested in the impact of multilingual and intercultural background on the acquisition of a new language, I am implementing various tools to make my

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PUTTING KNOWLEDGE IN A REAL-WORLD CONTEXT IS VITAL ELEMENT OF THE LEARNING PROCESS I am a highly experienced accounting professor with nearly 25 years of teaching behind me. I am also an experienced manager and as such I like to put accounting into real-world context to show my students that this is not just a number crunching subject! This approach has developed over the years alongside my doctoral research on teaching and learning and a desire to help students to adopt a deep approach to their educational process. I take an interactive approach to presenting my teaching material, mostly by writing my own materials, such as fun quizzes, and encouraging students to do group work, making up posters, for teams and doing research on the internet. In my first semester teaching at AUBG, the students from my Financial Accounting class were asked to put a presentation up on YouTube as part of an assignment. The results were excellent and highly professional. Multiculturalism is not a new environment for me – while teaching at a large London University I came into contact with students from all over the world, and coordinated several faculty members on large courses, which were all highly successful. In Birkbeck College, a worldclass research and teaching institution, which specializes in providing evening higher education to returners, I was able to devote myself to another area of interest that I enjoy - teaching people with a sincere desire to learn and insatiable thirst for knowledge.

LIBERAL ARTS IN ACTION

As an active member of the British Accounting and Finance Association, I regularly present at their annual conference which focuses on innovations in the field of

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Jonathan Lyons, United Kingdom Professor of Business

accounting education. Delegates from all over the world attend the conference and share knowledge and new ideas about teaching with presentations work groups and other social events. Thus I can keep up-to-date with the latest trends in my field and in turn complement the theoretical aspect of my classes with current reallife cases. I am also a very keen traveler having spent the first few years of my life living overseas with my family. My father was a navigating officer in the golden years of airline travel and was often posted overseas to places such as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. I have travelled extensively all over Europe and have visited Bulgaria several times as tourist before taking up the position at the American University in Bulgaria. As a volunteer with British Executive Services Overseas, I have also spent some time in Sri Lanka training staff members at a private college in teaching and learning techniques.


NEWS @ AUBG

The American University in Bulgaria is again among the top educational institutions in the country according to the official ranking of Bulgarian universities released by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education. AUBG is the absolute leader in the fields of administration and management, economics, public relations and information technologies. The university’s students are one of the most sought-after specialists, and receive some of the highest incomes in their fields. AUBG is also recognized for its academic and residential facilities – some of the best university facilities in the country. All five of the academic programs at AUBG that were listed – Economics, Computer Science, Business Administration, Political Science and International Relations, and Journalism and Mass Communication – were ranked among the top in the country, with Business administration, Economics and Journalism rated as Bulgaria’s best. “AUBG has had a reputation for academic quality since it was founded in 1991 and it is gratifying to see that reputation validated in the Bulgarian University Ranking for 2013. We continue to attract excellent students from Bulgaria and 40 other countries of

the world and these students recognize the value of a high quality, American-style liberal arts education and know it will prepare them well for life and for their careers,” said AUBG President Michael Easton. AUBG follows the model of the highly selective, residential, liberal arts university. Some of the main reasons for success of the American model of education and the leading places of such institutions in the world rankings are the high quality academic programs, small class size and personal attention as well as the variety of extracurricular activities students can engage in – all of which are distinctive strengths of the American University in Bulgaria. Bulgaria’s university ranking system compares academic disciplines in Bulgaria-accredited highereducation institutions. The system ranks programs based on more than 70 indicators, such as teaching and learning conditions, social and administrative services, scientific research, career development opportunities, prestige, academic resources, and facilities. The ranking system, commissioned by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and developed by independent consultants, draws information from international and national data banks, public opinion polls, and universities’ databases. The rankings are dynamic – as data from these sources change, the rankings will automatically adapt.

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NEWS @ AUBG

AUBG TOPS OFFICIAL RANKING OF BULGARIAN UNIVERSITIES 2013

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NEWS IN BRIEF

Russian Ambassador Yuriy Isakov Meets with AUBG Students September 25, 2013 Yuriy Isakov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Bulgaria, visited AUBG on Sept. 25 and held a meeting with AUBG students in Andrey Delchev Auditorium. The range of the home cities of students was quite broad: Ekaterinburg, Magadan, Sterlitamak, Samara, Kazan, Saint-Petersburg and others. This was Isakov’s second time to visit AUBG, and he shared that he was pleased to meet Russian AUBG students once more.

McKinsey Offers Career Opportunities for AUBG Graduates October 03, 2013 The end of the first month of classes brought AUBG business students into contact with representatives of McKinsey – one of the largest global consulting companies. The presentation acqainted the future professionals with the major practices of the company and the career opportunities available for enthusiastic and open-minded individuals with business flair. Among the team that spoke at the Andrey Delchev Auditorium were also two AUBG alumni: Georgi Konov, class of 2007 – Engagement Manager and Nemanja Grujicic, class of 2008 – Associate at McKinsey.

The Washington Tea Party of 2013 October 17, 2013

NEWS @ AUBG

“A potential debt crisis that would affect the whole world was resolved last night at the last minute, as these things usually are” – with these words Political Science Professor Nicholas Spina opened a roundtable discussion on the US government shutdown. The event was organized by the Political Science Department in conjunction with the AUBG Political Science Club.

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Public Diplomacy From the Inside October 18, 2013 "It’s not world events that shape international relations, it’s ministers, their fears, concerns and ideas,” highlighted Michael Davidson, head of the Political Department at the British Embassy in Bulgaria. Mr. Davidson gave a talk on Public Diplomacy at the invitation of the AUBG Political Science Club. His interactive lecture focused on diplomacy and how it translates into day-to-day experience.

Useful Tips for Successful Brand Positioning October 28, 2013 Marketing Research students at AUBG will be challenged to work on the advertising campaign of the most successful beer brand in Bulgaria. Mr. Daniel Petrov, senior brand manager of Kamenitza, gave an insightful lecture on Brand Positioning and Communication Strategy and presented students with details about their upcoming class project.

An Insight Peek Into the Dynamic Life of Top Bulgarian Reporter November 06, 2013

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AUBG students had another opportunity to gain insight peek into the life of a real reporter. On November 6, the newly built ABF Student Center hosted a meeting (part of the extremely successful JMC Conversations Series) with Maria Gineva, an editor of the Bulgarian news website Novinite.com. She talked about the passion, devotion and sacrifices that every reporter has to make in his or her pursuit of a successful career in the field of journalism.

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The Adventurous World of OMV BIXXOL Super City Hero November 14, 2013 The story of the joint venture of two AUBG graduates captured the attention of the large audience gathered in Andrey Delchev Auditorium on November 14. The event was organized by AUBG Career Center in cooperation with Emil Tsenov, International Marketing Manager at OMV AG Vienna, Austria (class of 1995) and Petar Svarc, Marketing Manager of Melon Technologies (graduate of 2002). The two alumni shared a part of their working experience after graduating AUBG through presentation dedicated to an integrated marketing campaign for OMV BIXXOL lubricant.

"Tzvetanka" or the Lifestory of Three Epochs November 19, 2013 AUBG and Blagoevgrad community members gathered in the fancy ABF Theatre Hall for a screening of the critically acclaimed film “Tzvetanka” organized by the Documenatry Club and JMC professor Melody Gilbert. To add to the excitement, the creator of the film Youlian Tabakov was also present to answer the many questions his first movie evoked in an inspired audience.

A New Insight on Women’s Participation in the Labor Market November 19, 2013 AUBG students, faculty members and guests had the opportunity to take a look at the the complex issue of women’s participation in the labor market. Yukiko Abe, professor of Labor Economics at Hokkaido University, Japan gave a presentation of her work “Regional Variations in Women’s Participation in the Labor Market.”

7th Annual Language and Culture Week at AUBG

NEWS @ AUBG

November 28, 2013 French, Bulgarian, and German traditions came again in the spotlight at the seventh Language and Culture Week at AUBG. This year’s event was concentrated on universities and education in each of the countries.

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"The Lady from the Sea" – A Story of Love, Freedom and More December 05, 2013 The last month of the year is the time for AUBG students to show the best of their abilities and capture the hearts and minds of their peers with stunning theatrical performances. “The Lady from the Sea” – a play, directed by Darya Yanitskaya and Kristiyan Dimitrov brought an enthusiastic crowd of theater lovers in ABF Theater Hall and provided yet another wonderful mixture of creativity and masterful acting.

Decommunization In Bulgaria and Germany Revisited December 05, 2013 The transition to democracy in Europe remains a highly controversial topic. There is a lasting impression within certain societies that the true democratic values have not been established successfully and this is best seen in the peculiar ways these nations react to the new order. In an attempt to elucidate how these perceptions built up, the head of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Sofia Dr. Marco Arndt delivered a lecture in front of AUBG students and faculty outlining the mistakes Bulgaria made and pointing out the opportunities before it.

Politics and Fantasy Cinema December 06, 2013

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In the month of magic, when people around the world prepare to welcome one of the brightest holidays of the year, AUBG students had the opportunity to look at politics from a completely different perspective – that of fantasy movies. Professor Cosmina Tanasoiu led an extraordinary lecture on the intersection between the world of magically moving objects and fantasy creatures and the real world that surrounds us.

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BESTSELLING BULGARIAN AUTHOR ADDS COLOR TO THE GRAY They say life is a journey and we never really know where it will lead us and what we will find on the way. 18% of Gray – Zachary Karabashliev’s Bulgarian bestseller, tells the story of one such journey, but it is not just the main character who embarks on it. It is also a journey for the reader, and the author himself, as AUBG community had the chance to find out when Mr. Karabashliev visited campus for an intellectuallycharged, yet warm get-together at Panitza Library. Zachary graduated with a degree in Bulgarian philology and moved to the US in 1997. Writing since he was a teenager, his career really kicked off when after being laid off from a “real” job, he was able to devote more time and effort to his manuscript. “18% of Gray” was published for the first time in 2008, won the Bulgarian award “Novel of the year”, and was named among Bulgaria’s 100 best novels. The story revolves around Zak who, after being left by his beloved woman, tries to comfort himself with a trip to Tijuana in an attempt to rediscover himself. Recently, the novel won yet another recognition by being released on the US market with an English translation by another friend of AUBG – Angela Rodel, and although this was the formal occasion of the visit, the evening escalated into much more than a book presentation.

NEWS @ AUBG

Mr. Karabashliev also read from one of his short stories, which led to discussions about the political life in Bulgaria, and showed that the writer was not ignorant

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to the politics in Bulgaria. “The system is in a serious need of reform” he firmly stated. Still, Bulgaria for him is something that he doesn’t look back on, but forward to. But the question on everybody’s mind was where the line between Zachary and Zak was? The parallels between them were obvious, but how much of “18% of Gray” was autobiographical and how much was fiction? “Everything is true and nothing is real” said Zachary. It is the reader’s choice how he feels the book and what he deems as real, what he will understand and how that will affect him. And Zachary Karabashliev obviously knows how to affect his audience. Story by Petya Hristova


AMERICA FOR BULGARIA STUDENT CENTER NAMED “BUILDING OF THE YEAR” AUBG community has yet another reason to be proud this Christmas season as the America for Bulgaria Student Center won first place in the Education and Sports category at the prestigious “Building of the Year” contest. The ultramodern facility captured the admiration of the 25 jury members, among them Bulgaria’s Minister of Regional Development Desislava Terzieva and Minister of Investment Planning Ivan Danov. Alexander Alexandrov, AUBG’s Vice President for Finance and Administration, attended the 12th annual official ceremony to receive the prize from Minister Terzieva.

The impressive structure, designed by Architect Dimcho Tilev, was built with the generous support of America for Bulgaria Foundation, and adds another dimension to AUBG’s liberal arts identity: now students have the opportunity to reap the benefits of having a state-of-the-art theater hall, the best university sports hall in Europe, a trendy restaurant, modern fitness center, student and career services as well as the Admissions Office all nested inside the same on-campus building. Constructively, ABF Student Center is also an achievement – a complete synthesis between constructive solution and design concept is reached. Some of the most interesting decisions are the console running track in the sports hall; the floor constructions of the vast supported areas in the

theater to include the most modern measuring of vibrations; the hanging terrace of the main dining hall; the suspension and tensioning of the central stair to minimum cross-sections of the structure, the maximum transmittance of the daylight and the elimination of the vibrations. This is the second major acknowledgement for the multifunctional facility within a month’s time. The ABF Student Center won 2nd place at the “Facade of the Year” internet competition by Baumit Bulgaria. Overall, the well-deserved praise for the building’s grandeur is not accidental – the ABF Student Center embodies some of the major features of AUBG: excellence, uniqueness, and success. Story by Toma Tetimov

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“Over the last 15 years, AUBG has invested more than 60 million leva in the development of the Skaptopara complex and we plan to invest 40 million more in the following years, so I hope to be back soon on this stage”, optimistically noted Alexandrov upon receipt of the award. Optimism is indeed justified, as the ABF Student Center is only the latest, yet gigantic step in the quest for a world-class residential campus that AUBG will fully complete in the near future.

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AUBG PROJECT BECOMES INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED Established in 2001 as an outreach unit of the American University in Bulgaria, the Centre for European Programmes provides interdisciplinary training, information activities and consulting in EU affairs. The department applies and implements a great variety of educational projects, financed by the EU and other donors. Currently CEP is committed to projects on capacity building – EU-funding, business and soft skills, entrepreneurship and employability under the Erasmus+ Programme, ETCP Greece-Bulgaria, IPA Cross Border Programme Bulgaria-Macedonia and the EEA grants. Last November, the project “Improvement of Business Process Management (BMP) in Higher Education Institutions”/HEI-UP won the “The Best Innovative Project in the field of Business Process Management” award at the international conference - BPM Eastern Europe Summit 2013 which took place in Bucharest, Romania. The conference, engaged some of the most renowned representatives worldwide in scientific discussions and tutorials in the field of BMP. The project was implemented through the partnership of five higher education institutions – AUBG, IMC Krems (Austria), DOBA Faculty of Applied Business and Social Studies (Slovenia), WLBC (Lithuania), SZSWBC (Poland) – and two private companies - BICERO Ltd (Slovenia) and ISCN (Ireland). The consortium was established with the purpose of studying the way universities behave in terms of business process management and to provide tools and mechanisms for them to improve the efficiency of their processes, based on best practices. The project was carried out with the financial support of the European Union under the Lifelong Learning Programme/Erasmus Multilateral. The findings of the several studies, conducted within the project were used for the preparation of a process framework for the HEIs and for the development of an

e-learning course for HEI managers. The online training was certified under the European Certification and Qualification Association (ECQA) and was open for AUBG employees at different levels. Another outcome of the project was the creation of an international consortium of companies and HEIs with the main objective to initiate and improve the BPM knowledge transfer between the HEIs and the business. “This award is a great recognition for the project consortium, for AUBG and for CEP and we are very happy to share it with the entire AUBG community! International projects reveal a new window for partnership opportunities for AUBG. Being recognized on international level by renowned and external evaluators means a lot to our team.“ indicated Iliyana Ruseva-Zaharieva, Manager of Centre for European Programmes at AUBG.

NEWS @ AUBG

Story by Iliana Ruseva-Zaharieva

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THE BULGARIAN PRESIDENT INSPIRES THE AUBG COMMUNITY

“We should not take democracy for granted; we should fight for it every day,” Rosen Plevneliev, President of the Republic of Bulgaria, told students, faculty, staff and local political figures at a meeting at the American University in Bulgaria.

AUBG President Michael Easton introduced the prominent guest speaker and described November 13 as “a special day in the short history of AUBG.” Mr. Plevneliev then stood up before the overcrowded hall to deliver a speech on “A Better Future: Who is to Take the Initiative.” Focusing on the wave of anti-government street rallies in Bulgaria, which first broke out in February, Mr. Plevneliev expressed his happiness in seeing the Bulgarian civil society back on the stage. “Hiding the problems is a recipe for disaster,” the president pointed out. “Instead, we should cooperate with the people and attempt to build on the huge social and political change that was tough and which price was high.

Going beyond the Bulgarian borders, Mr. Plevneliev explained that Bulgaria would continue to support Serbia, Macedonia, Kosovo and the other countries in the region in their efforts to modernize and eventually join the European Union. “We can succeed only if we start to act, think, and work as a region,” he insisted with unbending confidence. The President did not shy away from praising AUBG as a strategic institution which was “the first to break all the boundaries, to put down all the walls, to bring people and cultures in the region together.” Throughout his speech, the notable guest repeatedly raised the question as to who really needs to take the initiative. He ultimately revealed the simple, yet precious answer: “We all do.” “Every single person can change history,” concluded his inspirational address President Plevneliev. Story by Daniel Penev

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Mr. Plevneliev had the opportunity to take a stroll around the ever-modernizing Skaptopara Campus and afterwards headed for the theater hall in the America for Bulgaria Student Center to talk to an enthusiastic audience.

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A VIBRANT COMMUNITY Imagine AIESEC: Abbreviations and Adventures Imagine an organization that provides global professional internships to undergrads acts as a multidepartment corporation that sends its employees to leadership conferences and creates a network that connects you with the US and Russia, South Africa and Sweden. Daydreaming? Actually no, such organization does exist. Its name is AIESEC. Boasting its own website, five large-scale projects and more than sixty active members from the Blagoevgrad youth community, AIESEC Blagoevgrad celebrated its sixth birthday in 2013. The non-for-profit organization embraces a corporate structure – with departments ranging from External Relations through Finance to Talent Management where every student may acquire hands-on experience in his or her major. AIESEC is a self-sustaining NGO, it acts as an intermediary between companies and students or recent graduates. The Blagoevgrad branch carries out corporate (Business in Practice, Youth to Business, iLeader) as well as socially engaging (Speak, Meeting Diversity) events. Its core activity, however, is internship matching and student exchange. In other words, AIESEC tracks companies that provide internship opportunities and prospective applicants who are a match for these positions. The two largest departments, OGX and ICX, are responsible for sending and receiving students for exchange.

A VIBRANT COMMUNITY

Yet it goes much beyond professional formality. In the end, AIESEC is about students, nations, and people. From a single layer, economics-focused entity it morphed into a colorful society that spans almost 125

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countries. AIESEC Blagoevgrad, for instance, has sent both members and non-members to exotic destinations that range from Tunisia to Thailand. These internships can be both professional – meaning paid and formal – or so-called GCDPs (global community development projects which, as the name suggests, aim to aid the global community via volunteer work). In turn, the local branch has brought diverse interns from China, India, Brazil and Australia among others to Blagoevgrad high schools and events such as the annual Global Village gathering. “All AIESEC Blagoevgrad corporate projects have come to life thanks to the cooperation of AUBG, whether in terms of venue, professors’ guidance, funds or the enthusiasm of its students as participants and organizers,” shares Emilija Naumoska, an AUBGer and vice president of the Finance department. AIESEC globally stands by six guiding principles in all their activities: striving for excellence, demonstrating integrity, activating leadership, living diversity, enjoying participation, acting sustainably. Yet, when asked about what the organization means to them, the Blago AIESECers employ a much broader definition ranging from support, growth and development through challenge, teamwork and leadership to people, change and awesomeness. Their global goal, after all, boils down to “peace and fulfillment of all humankind’s potential.” Story by Yoana Savova


KEEPING UP WITH THE NEW TECHNOLOGIES

events. In the next three years, Nenov occupied a variety of positions among which a webmaster and ultimately, a president. Even though Nenov is now in charge of the club, he explained that there is not a huge difference between the separate positions. In fact, all club members are welcome to suggest new ideas, and contribute to the organization of activities. Newly-joined members often form teams with experienced members of the executive body to make research, implement various projects and present their findings to the rest of the club. Apart from making presentations, CSSU’s guests also provide information about internships and career opportunities in their companies. In fact, many AUBG students found a job thanks to the connections they created through CSSU.

Hristo Nenov, the current president of CSSU, joined the club in his freshman year. Back then he was an officer and his main responsibility was to help the executive body with the organization of projects and

Nenov’s determination to further develop and popularize the club was boosted after he came back from a student exchange program in the United States. He was impressed with the practical and up-to-date education he received in the Illinois Institute of Technology, and tried to take as many computer science courses as possible. “It was a very motivational experience,” Nenov said. “I am now trying to apply the knowledge and experience I gained in the US and share it with other CSSU members.” Story by Nikoleta Gancheva

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When the Computer Science Student Union (CSSU) was founded in 2006, it consisted of only four members, and its main purpose was to involve Computer Science and Information Systems majors at AUBG. Now, eight years later, CSSU has increasing participation and membership, attracts a number of outstanding companies every year, and is open to all AUBG students who are interested in technology.

In addition to events and presentations, at least two field trips are planned for next semester. CSSU already have invitations from telerik and Cisco Systems who will be glad to welcome AUBG students in their offices.

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SEMESTER AT SEA – A VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY AUBG has always encouraged us to gain international experience by going on study-abroad programs in Europe and the United States. However, I wanted something bigger. I thought, how cool would it be if I could travel around the world while taking classes at the same time! After some research online I found a program that allowed me to do that, and embarked on a voyage of a lifetime with Semester at Sea. Semester at Sea is a comparative academic studyabroad program that allows taking a full load of classes while visiting around 14 countries in the course of one semester. The ship is our campus, so students, staff, and faculty eat, sleep, and go to classes together. When we dock in a port, we are free to explore the city on our own, or choose from a wide variety of Semester at Sea organized and faculty-led field programs that encompass a deep immersion into the culture and history of the country. Each course is related to the regions we are visiting, so prior to arriving in a country, we get acquainted with its history, economy, politics, and issues that are currently on its agenda. We are so prepared by the time we get there that when we get off the ship, most students seek people encounters and meaningful conversations with locals instead of visiting famous landmarks. Of course, we went to see the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the city of Marrakech in Morocco, but talking to people and hearing about their lives and their countries from them was our first priority. I think that Semester at Sea

has taught us to be curious about other countries and showed us that the world is huge, but it can be small if we know and care about each other. But above all, Semester at Sea facilitates the creation of a global community, something we’ve heard about so often during classes at AUBG. Thanks to AUBG, I had a better starting point in this voyage than most students. The diverse and vibrant student body, as well as the international component of the curriculum at AUBG, had already introduced me to the complexities of our world; while most students from US colleges on Semester at Sea didn’t have a clue of what the world is like out there. I am very grateful to both AUBG and Semester at Sea for giving students like me an opportunity to learn about the world, and therefore a chance to change it one day.

A VIBRANT COMMUNITY

Story by Ksenia Lukanova

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BLAGOEVGRAD MODEL UNITED NATIONS – THE ART OF BEING INTERNATIONAL IN AN INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY

The uniqueness of BLIMUN comes from the fact that it gives AUBG students the chance to encounter other young ambitious people, coming from different academic backgrounds and different educational systems and provides a tribune for them to cooperate and to exchange experience and knowledge. Spain, France, Lithuania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Cameroon, Bangladesh, Ghana, Turkey, Kosovo, Nigeria, Malaysia, Ukraine, Pakistan and Czech Republic are just some of the home countries of the BLIMUN participants. “I decided to participate in BLIMUN, because I wanted to meet new people from all over the world and to learn more about their culture and perceptions. It was a very enriching experience and it widened my horizons,” says Nelly Ovcharova, vice-president of BLIMUN 2014.

“We sometimes forget how international our student body is. Somehow, we get used to it and it no longer amazes us. To share a room with a person from another country or to have five best friends from five different continents is not unusual for AUBG, but it also raises the standards of AUBGers for international diversity high. However, whenever you see unfamiliar faces on events such as BLIMUN, it gives you the impression that you get international in an already international environment,” says Nelly enthusiastically. By participating in BLIMUN, students gain invaluable experience, make lifelong friendships, and get the chance to go to other international UN models and to share their enthusiasm and passion with other young leaders. Moreover, it prepares them for a future career in an international political environment, and it teaches them that they “should be the difference they want to see in the world.” Story by Nelly Ovcharova

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In February 2014, AUBG Model United Nations Club organized the sixth annual edition of the Blagoevgrad International Model of United Nations Conference (BLIMUN). This student initiative brings together remarkable students from all around the globe, to debate and propose resolutions to current “hot” topics on the geopolitical arena. For 3 days, they accept the roles of country leaders and use the art of diplomacy to defend their countries’ best interests. Furthermore, by participating in BLIMUN, students get the chance to learn more about the UN structure and decision-making process and to meet and exchange ideas with people from a plethora of countries. The conference in itself is not a precedent, as it is part of an international network of similar UN simulations, aimed at promoting international cooperation, peace and democracy.

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SHAMIL MUSTAFAYEV ’14, AZERBAIJAN MAJORS: Computer Science, Information Systems Studying at AUBG and communicating with young people from so many different countries has changed my world view in a profound way. What AUBG really does is educating global citizens capable of initiating change and standing behind their decisions. It also teaches us to be more respectful and to think for the world’s welfare instead of just benefiting our own countries. The exchange programs that AUBG offers are just one of the opportunities to get acquainted with other cultures. I spent my last semester in University of Vermont, USA. Besides expanding my social network, I had a chance to see how their Student Government functions and got ideas for improving the work of our structure, which I implemented upon my return to AUBG.

YOANA SAVOVA ‘15, BULGARIA

A VIBRANT COMMUNITY

MAJORS: Political Science & International Relations, Business Administration MINOR: Anthropology AUBG was my first sustained encounter with foreigners and an international environment. It taught me to be open-minded, tolerant, culturally cognizant and most of all, inquisitive rather than anxious about the unknown. Thanks to the university, I will always remember my first trip outside Europe – my participation in Preparing Global Leaders Academy in Jordan. I hopped out of my comfort zone into a controversial and unexplored region. I became more adventurous and less risk averse and met, lived, and worked with people from five continents. If it had not been for AUBG I would probably have not gone to Jordan and, subsequently, to other countries. AUBG exposed me to multiculturalism and made me fall in love with it.

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JAHAN TAGANOVA ‘13, TURKMENISTAN MAJOR: Political Science & International Relations, Business Administration I truly believe that AUBG is dedicated to nurturing “cosmopolitan citizens” in its students. Studying abroad is perhaps one of the most beneficial international exposures that the university offers to its students - a fun and life-changing experience one could only wish about. I met people from all over the world with different lifestyles that are far different from my own. The participation in the international conference “Education Without Borders” in Dubai, and the interaction with students, renowned professors, and Nobel laureates helped me to appreciate the power of education even more. I plan to dedicate my skills and efforts to improving and strengthening the educational system at my home country.

MARTIN ANDREEV ’14, BULGARIA

AUBG offers its students global perspectives both inside and outside its campus. The multitude of events such as TEDxAUBG, International Week and StartUp as well as the various lectures and presentations by prominent international speakers bring diverse viewpoints, progressive new ideas and allow you to experience new cultures. In addition to these on-campus activities, there is a whole myriad of exchange opportunities, beckoning students to seize them. I had the chance to study in Germany for 5 months and get a glimpse of a different educational system, practice my German and explore the beauty of one of the most developed European countries. Proactivity, progressive and innovative thinking as well as global outlook are qualities that AUBG cherishes and I would like to encourage my peers to take advantage of all the opportunities the university has to offer. 29

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MAJORS: Computer Science, Mathematics

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THEY MAKE US PROUD ADELINA AND ANTON BORISOVI '10: “AUBG STUDENTS HAVE COSMOPOLITAN MINDS”

Many people nowadays believe that it is impossible to start an international career while being young. However, they do not seem to know Adelina and Anton. Young, successful, in love, they travel around the world while discovering new professional heights and fully enjoying their life.

Both of them graduated AUBG in 2010 and since then have been working for leading international companies in different locations. Adelina graduated with a double major in Business Administration and European Studies, while Anton studied Business Administration and Economics, with a minor in Mathematics. While at AUBG, Adelina and Anton took part in many extracurricular activities – they were both members of the AUBG Business Club, where they organized many business related events around campus. In addition, Adelina was also part of the organization of the national tour of the musical “Hairspray” and the AUBG Environmental Week and she was actively involved with the campaign against Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking. “People should come and study at AUBG, because of the great mix that AUBG provides between a rich curriculum and a broad variety of extracurricular activities,” says Adelina and smiles.

Currently, the inspiring couple lives in Dubai, where Adelina works as Trade Planning & Reporting Executive for the Arabian Gulf at British American Tobacco Middle East, while Anton is Business Analyst at L'Oréal, Middle East. Regardless of their young age, both of them have a remarkable professional background in companies such as Philips, Globul and Societe Generale. When asked how AUBG prepared them for being successful on an international level, they explain, “AUBG is very diverse in terms of the different nationalities, cultures and personalities that everyone is exposed to. This atmosphere prepares AUBG students for the real-life diversity of international business. This is also the moment to mention AUBG's multinational faculty. Not only do professor teaching at AUBG have different cultural background, but also many of them have broad international experience. The stories they share from their professional life can prove to be more valuable than the lessons written in the textbooks.”

THEY MAKE US PROUD

Adelina and Anton strongly believe that the global opportunities upon graduating AUBG are “limitless in both academic and professional aspect,” because the university provides its students with the invaluable lesson that differences between people can often lie only on the surface, and they can easily be overcome by common interests and ambitions found while in college. Thus, by learning to live and study with folks who come from different social and ethnic backgrounds, AUBG students turn into people with cosmopolitan minds, who are prepared to enter the international business world. To the future AUBGers, Adelina and Anton would like to say: “Dream big and work even harder to make your dreams come true.” In addition, students should “cherish and keep” the true friendships they make while at AUBG, because these life-long relationships will last regardless of time and distance. With all the admiration and respect the couple has towards their Alma Mater, it comes as no surprise that Anton’s sister has chosen to follow in her brother’s footsteps and continue her education at AUBG as well. 30

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Story by Nelly Ovcharova


YELENA OSIPOVA '09: “MY LIFE CANNOT FIT IN TWO SUITCASES ANYMORE”

Yelena shares: “The beauty of it all, however, is that it comes naturally: no one "teaches" you how to be a cosmopolite or a critical thinker – all the various experiences and interactions inevitably open up your mind and make you into a person who is not just curious, but also cares about others.”

Ever wondered what Political Science students do on a daily basis – make research on a specific topic or advise ministers? In order to perform these tasks, they first have to acquire the ability to adapt to all environments and to develop a global perspective not only on political issues, but also over their personal and professional life path. Meet one such person, Yelena Osipova, an AUBG alumnus from Armenia who graduated Magna Cum Laude majoring in Political Science and International Relations as well as Journalism and Mass Communication. At AUBG, Yelena was an active student who participated in numerous clubs and initiatives on campus, she also served as a representative to the Political Science department and presented papers at three AUBGorganized research conferences. The university was her first major encounter with the global world. “One of the greatest parts of the AUBG experience is that it brings the world to you without you ever leaving the campus,” she says. On-campus she learnt how to appreciate all facets to an issue and then pass an objective judgment, which she considers “the single most important characteristic of being a cosmopolite.” Apart from that, she got to know the diverse cultures and complexities of individuals, learnt “to ask the right questions” and understand far-away regions without being there.

she met new people who enriched her perspective, found her husband who is also a “global nomad” and decided to pursue a PhD at the American University. She is currently working on her dissertation and plans to either become a professor or put her skills to work in the public or private sector. What is certain is that she will not give up her passion for multiculturalism: “And even though my belongings and my life cannot fit in two suitcases anymore, I certainly hope that whatever comes will involve foreign languages, passport stamps, and new ways of looking at the world.” Story by Yoana Savova

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After graduation, Yelena pursued a Master’s degree in International Communication at the acclaimed American University in Washington D.C. Although the US is praised for its melting pot culture, she had a harder time adapting to the different environment where she “had to deal with people who didn't know where Armenia was on the map.” The main difference between AUBG and the American University was that at the former “everyone is a minority and has to work on cross-cultural understanding.” Yet Yelena feels most inspired in this multicultural environment where

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NICK SAIJRAKH '09: “THE ATMOSPHERE AT AUBG RESEMBLES THE DYNAMISM AND MULTI-CULTURED-NESS OF THE WORLD” Nick Saijrakh ’09, Managing Director at Azarga Capital LLC and Director at Khan Investment Management as well as founder of the first Alumni Chapter in Mongolia, attributes part of his professional success to the important skills, knowledge and experience he gained at AUBG. Saijrakh began his career in finance with a local investment bank and eventually co-founded a boutique investment management and advisory firm together with his foreign partners. The company mainly focuses on cross-border investments, so Saijrakh travels to different countries on a regular basis. “Nowadays, businesses are more and more globalized, and therefore sophisticated, with business transactions inevitably encompassing multiple countries’ jurisdictions,” he explains. His longest foreign experience after AUBG was in London, UK at a capital markets training with the London Stock Exchange for over a couple of months. The program was designed to let participants gain hands-on experience in wealth management and trading equities at the leading financial hub in the world. Through his rich international practice, Saijrakh has realized that in today’s dynamic environment, an individual needs to be truly a global citizen and his ability to embrace different cultures and respect their intricacies is crucial for running a successful business and completing objectives. “With its tight schedules, variety of activities and international student body and staff, the

atmosphere at AUBG certainly resembles the dynamism and multiculturedness of the world,” points out Saijrakh. “I feel very fortunate to have had such an experience, because, among others, the ease of communication with people helps me with networking, which is one of the most essential aspects for successful business dealings.” Saijrakh believes that another great benefit of studying at AUBG was that liberal arts education exposed him to a variety of subjects and fields, while receiving focused knowledge in his chosen discipline. “You get to see the issues from different angles and eventually interconnect them and make them work for you in completing your objective,” points Saijrakh. He has found that in our current globalized and technologically savvy era, successful people need expertise and knowledge of multiple different disciplines in order to complete every little task. Apart from liberal arts education, Saijrakh’s high involvement with extracurricular activities helped him to prepare for the multilayered world of business. In addition to being a member of the American Football and Olympics teams, performer in theater plays and musicals, a magazine contributor, and a resident assistant, he participated in a few international level competitions as a Debate Club member at AUBG. “Competing internationally gave me confidence that I am as competent as any person from an opposite part of the world. I also realized how tough and global the competition is. Even today, I have to constantly compete with and prove my worth to people from all sorts of different backgrounds and experiences, not just my peers in the field.” Saijrakh’s advice to current AUBG students is to work on their analytical and critical thinking skills, perfect their writing abilities and time management. He also finds that extracurricular activities are crucial for success, as they enable people to explore their talents and find new passions. “And lastly, cherish your college moments and most importantly the friends you make there, because they will be your close friends and business contacts for life,” adds Saijrakh.

THEY MAKE US PROUD

Story by Nikoleta Gancheva

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TEODOR STOEV '10: FROM AUBG TO SINGAPORE Financial Times defines a global mindset as “openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity to see common patterns across them.” Beyond complex definitions and research findings, a global mindset is easily recognizable in people – in particular those who boast an AUBG education. One of these successful alumni is Teodor Stoev, a Bulgarian Business Administration graduate whose life path has taken him through the bustling global hubs of Dubai and Singapore.

The second group that played a role in his AUBG life consists of the faculty and administration with their international experience, up-to-date knowledge and career guidance tips. The chronologically last but not least relevant group is the “important, powerful and international” AUBG network. “My girlfriend is an AUBG alumnus, both my jobs so far were closely linked to AUBG alumni, and even when I traveled to far-away places like Korea I stayed at the homes of AUBG alumni!” Teodor shares.

He started working for the Balkans Investment Consulting Agency based in Sofia but upon graduation moved to Dubai where he was employed by the technological giant Philips. Afterwards, Teodor transferred to the Singaporean branch of the corporation. “The fact that both places have been able to achieve such a rapid and sustainable growth in only a few decades is amazing – it inspires me to think big!” he says and draws a parallel between the two and AUBG, which has recently expanded its popularity across borders. The only challenges Teodor faces abroad are being away from his family (“the smell and taste of grandma’s food” he jokingly adds) and friends because they are all “dispersed across the globe.” Currently residing in Singapore with his girlfriend, he is optimistic about his future in the bustling SouthEast Asian region. His understanding of the markets and extensive local network, in his view, will allow him to take advantage of various business and travel opportunities. What he will pack on his future trips is the AUBG mindset that helps him “live and work in a world that is changing at such a pace that adapting on a daily basis is crucial.” Story by Yoana Savova

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Teodor “blames” three major university-related factors for his first steps into the global world: “people, people and people.” The first group naturally includes his fellow AUBGers with their diverse backgrounds but common goals of development. “Life at AUBG is an international experience – no one can escape from it. And that’s the beauty of it,” he claims. The mindset that students acquire – of constant self-improvement – is, in Teodor’s words, his most important asset. This mindset is developed in an environment where “AUBG students join clubs, share lobbies and library tables, play sports and create art, learn to live with and appreciate each other.”

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SNEZHINA KOVACHEVA '08: “AUBG WAS A MICROCOSM OF ANY OTHER INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT THAT I SUBSEQUENTLY EXPERIENCED“ When she first came to AUBG, Snezhina Kovacheva, class of 2008 tried to have no expectations. She arrived with an open mind and wanted to embrace the reality of what AUBG is. Ten years later, Snezhina is confident that she made the right choice for her education and future. “Liberal arts education provides a solid foundation for anything that you will later focus on,” she said. “We live in a post-modern fast-paced world, where textbooks become obsolete, managerial approaches come and go out of fashion, people learn, unlearn and relearn, but you always need a foundation to go back to, to reflect and react. Liberal arts education can provide this foundation.” The University has not only given Snezhina an openminded perspective on life and taught her precious personal and professional skills. It has also supported her academic growth beyond the AUBG classroom. The Tchaprachikoff Scholarship Fund for AUBG graduates from Bulgaria, admitted to graduate programs at a top 20 US university, financed Snezhina’s pursuit of a Master of Public Administration degree at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Snezhina is currently an advisor at the European Investment Bank (EIB) in Luxembourg, but she has lived in many different places and held a variety of positions prior to that. Apart from the solid liberal arts curriculum at AUBG, she attributes part of her success to the numerous extracurricular activities available in the university. By the end of Orientation Week, she had already written her first article for FlashNews, and by the second semester she was assistant-editor. Snezhina majored in Economics and Business Administration, but through the Journalism courses she found a way to channel her interest in writing, which later proved an invaluable skill in all of her jobs. Apart from writing, she was a vicepresident of the Student Government and founder of

the Youth Empowerment Initiative which still attracts students’ interest five years later. Passionate about debating, Kovacheva also became the President of the Debate Club. “Fundraising and steering the preparation of AUBG Open taught me more about organization, planning and teamwork than any course could ever have.” she said. “I found the AUBG extracurricular activities teach you the soft skills that you will need as much as the hard skills, later in life.” According to Snezhina, another one of the great strengths of AUBG is its diverse student body. “AUBG was a microcosm of any other international environment that I subsequently experienced.“ she said. In her junior year, for instance, Snezhina joined an exchange program at the Duke University in the US. Unlike other exchange students from the Balkans, who went to their national universities, she had no culture shock or big surprises, because she had already been studying and living in an American style campus.

THEY MAKE US PROUD

Snezhina believes that once you have found what you are really passionate about, it is your duty and responsibility to go for it. “This might be the best shot you have at professional and personal fulfillment later in life.” she says. “And always have your “elevator pitch” ready,” Snezhina says. ”I thought this is a business cliché, but yesterday at work, at the European Investment Bank, I took the lift with the President, and had four floors to make a good impression. My debate reflexes honed at AUBG certainly helped.” Story by Nikoleta Gancheva 34

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FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS AUBG SPIRIT MAKES GREAT THINGS HAPPEN

One of the initiators of the fundraising, Gueorgui Nikolov '95, can hardly hide his excitement: “I shared the idea about setting up a scholarship with seventeen other alumni. Fifteen of them immediately expressed their desire to participate. Later on, one more AUBG alumnus who learnt about our initiative wished to join us, despite the fact that he no longer works for PwC. I was amazed by the uniting power of the AUBG spirit and the very high participation rate.” When asked how the idea was born, Gueorgui explains that two important circumstances catalyzed the process “at that time, I found out that my good friend Vladimir Borachev accepted the position of VP for Institutional Advancement and since I knew that his job is related to many challenges, I wanted to find a way to help him out. Additionally, I felt this was the perfect opportunity to make a difference in a scalable way.” Determined to realize this ambitious project, Gueorgui decided to rely on the art of teamwork as a key value for PwC employees. Thus, he turned to Albena Markova '96, Partner at PwC, and she encouraged him to gather with the other AUBG alumni at PwC after work and discuss the idea. At that “meeting,” held at an Irish Pub, almost all of the people were thrilled by the idea and started planning the fundraising.

Anna Boteva

Desislava Stefanova

Albena Markova

Elitsa Petrova

Gueorgui Nikolov

Ivan Batachki

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In 2013, a group of AUBG alumni working at PricewaterhouseCoopers raised the impressive amount of $5,000 that they donated to AUBG as part of the new ambitious fundraising campaign of the university. The money will be used to set up a scholarship for continuing students for the academic year 2014-2015. In just a few months, the proactive alumni managed to mobilize their alumni network and collect this substantial amount.

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“So many people decided to take part in the initiative, because for all of us AUBG is not simply an institution. It gave us many valuable things – knowledge, skills, friends, memorable experiences and fun; it shaped us as people and professionals. We would not be who we are if it was not for AUBG,” says Gueorgui and smiles. He explains that it is normal to want to give back to the community that has given so much to you. “AUBG will always be a beautiful memory for me. I know how much it cost to me and to my family to finance my education, but the knowledge I gained and the international exposure on campus opened many doors for me. That is why I decided to support this great cause, because if we can contribute even a little, so that someone can have similar experience to the one we had, that would be money well spent,” says Anna Boteva '05, another AUBG alumnae working at PwC.

FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS

Ivan Evstatiev '08 adds that even six years after graduation he feels grateful for the great start in life that he had thanks to AUBG. “I would not be here if it was not for AUBG. The experience, the knowledge, the chance to go on Work and Travel, even the way we speak English are things that make us stand out and open many doors for us. Even though I am an active member of our Alumni Association, I sometimes still feel like I am not doing enough to give back to the community. Thus, I was very happy to participate in this fundraising,” says Ivan enthusiastically. When asked what advice they would like to give to current AUBG students, the PwC alumni say: “They should try to get the best out of their AUBG experience. They should focus on their studies, but they should also take advantage of the wonderful other opportunities the university offers. To be engaged in extracurricular activities and to enjoy their college life is the best formula for success.” Story by Nelly Ovcharova

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Ivan Evstatiev

Petar Angelov Angelov

Plamen Pavlov

Rositsa Stoikova


NEW YORK ALUMNI SCHOLARSHIP – TOGETHER WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE Earlier in 2013, six very successful and highly motivated AUBG alumni decided that the moment has come to give back to AUBG community, after a very inspiring alumni meeting with the AUBG President Michael Easton in New York. In just a few weeks’ time, they managed to involve 19 other AUBG graduates from the Tri-state area (NY, NJ and CT) and raise a total of $8,400. The money was divided into four scholarships of $2,100 each, covering university-related expenses of the recipients for the Fall 2013 and Spring 2014 semesters.

The members of the “Magnificent Six” or the masterminds of this ambitious undertaking are Varbin Staykoff (class of 1996), Dessi Nikolova (class of 1996), Alec Oliver (class of 2001), Elena Krumova (class of 1995), Nikolai Dimitrov (class of 1999) and Ana Milicevic (class of 2001). All of them have outstanding professional backgrounds in companies such as JP Morgan, American Express, Morgan Stanley Investment Management and Deloitte, and all of them consider AUBG as a milestone in their personal and professional development. When asked what AUBG means to them, the NY alumni answer keenly:

Boban

Ermir

Yana

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“Many of us continue to be passionate about AUBG, its mission and founding values. We care about the school and we would like to see it financially sustainable in the long run.”

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To the question why they decided to start this scholarship, the alumni explain that it was their way to support the fundraising efforts of the university in a more visible way, by recognizing the importance and the need of “solid alumni participation.” Furthermore, they want to set an example for the current students and promote the culture of “giving back.” “We are looking to highlight the importance of continuous support for the school and develop anticipation among the alumni to participate in the annual fundraising.” According to them, the alumni support in the fundraising process is not necessarily related to substantial donations, but rather to spreading the “payit-forward” mentality among AUBG alumni network.

FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS

“We didn't really have a strong alumni organization in New York before starting this scholarship and I thought that the easiest way to energize our alumni community and do some good was through raising funds for scholarships. Initially the goal was to support one scholarship, but we succeeded in raising enough funds to support 4,” replies Ana when asked why she personally decided to join this initiative. The alumni expressed their hope that other alumni communities will also be inspired and give back to their Alma Mater, and that they know of groups in San Francisco, London, and Boston who are already working on similar projects. “We know we are not alone and we believe that being part of the AUBG alumni community comes with a commitment to support our school and help more people have the chance that we had. Our scholarship shows how alumni contribution matters and supports students directly.”

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The four scholarship recipients this year – Boban Markovic, Yana Hristova, Sindi Shkodrani and Ermir Ismaili – had to write an essay on the topic: “How have you contributed to date, and how will you continue to contribute to AUBG and its larger community 5 years upon graduation? How will this scholarship help you achieve these goals?” as part of the application process. All of them are outstanding students, top of their class, involved in many different extracurricular activities, such as AUBG Political Club, AUBG Business Club and Student Government. They share that this scholarship gave them the financial security to be able to “do their best in performing their duties and to be of service to their fellow students.” Additionally, they feel honored for the help they received by a “group of people that symbolize the values taught at AUBG.” “Encouraged by their trust, we want to continue the path of success,” explains Boban with great enthusiasm. Story by Nelly Ovcharova


PRESIDENT EASTON: “THE PLEASURE OF MEETING PAST AND FUTURE AUBGERS IN MONGOLIA“

Over the years AUBG has enrolled many students from Mongolia and continues to actively recruit in that country. Admissions counselor Mariya Koeva was just ending her visit to Ulaanbaatar as we arrived, and she had set up a series of meetings for us with prospective students and administrators at selected high-schools Our work began that day when we met one of our most recent graduates Bayarkluu Chinzorigt. Together with him and the Admissions counselor we made a presentation to an over-flow group of prospective students who had come to the Education Center on a Saturday to learn about AUBG.

We then headed for a special alumni gathering. The alumni, lead by Narantuguldur (Nick) Saijrakh, had arranged to meet, interestingly enough, at the Genghis Khan Irish Pub which turned out to be the perfect venue for an evening that began with our surprise hors d’oeuvre offering of Blagoevgrad banitza squares that we had hand-carried on our flights. The more than twenty alumni who gathered for dinner that evening squealed their delight at once again being able to savor the Bulgarian treat and then proceeded to pepper us with perceptive questions about the campus, the current student body, the faculty and the staff. They also took advantage of the opportunity for warm-hearted reunions with old friends and the chance to network with alumni from different classes. At the end of the evening, Nick had everyone stand in a circle, each with a glass of champagne, as he toasted AUBG with an emotional telling of how AUBG had affected his life, and his testimonial was immediately added to by others who found his sincerity contagious. Had there been a video camera running at that time, AUBG would never again have the need to develop any new marketing tools… it was an AUBG endorsement at its finest!

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At the invitation of some Mongolian alumni, my wife Louise and I landed just as the sun was rising at Genghis Khan International Airport and we began our visit to Ulaanbaatar early on an October morning. It’s a city of traditional yurts (gers) sharing the dusty and smoky air next to modern high-rise buildings; of often wild taxi drivers zigzagging through bumper-to-bumper city traffic over roads torn up by construction; and of tranquil areas on the edge of town graced by ancient Buddhist temples and their monasteries and neighboring grass-chomping yaks.

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FRIENDS AND SUPPORTERS

We spent the next two days travelling around Ulaanbaatar, meeting high-school students in their classrooms and presenting AUBG to them. We were fortunate to be invited by the schools’ administrators at two schools to join them in their offices for tea and conversation, giving us a chance to understand the Mongolian education system and to promote AUBG as a solid destination for their graduates. This year twenty-four Mongolians are enrolled at AUBG and eight in our English Language Institute awaiting regular admission.

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The last day of my official duties was truly official, in that I was invited to meet with a number of forward-looking members of the government who wanted ideas about bringing their statesponsored university system into the twenty-first century. That was a tall order for a couple of hours’ conversation but their very perceptive questions and concerns were encouraging, and hopefully as their government pivots a bit to recover from some recent, harsh changes that were decreed, they may be well-positioned, well-informed and ready with the leadership necessary to provide the younger generation with solid skills and knowledge for the future of their country.


American University in Bulgaria Blagoevgrad

Main Building 1 Georgi Izmirliev Sq. Blagoevgrad 2700, Bulgaria President’s Office: (+359 73) 888 307 Development: (+359 73) 888 366 Fax: (+359 73) 888 344 Published by:

University Relations Office Phone: (+359 73) 888 215 Fax: (+359 73) 888 399 AUBGToday@aubg.bg

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www.aubg.bg


AUBG Today, issue 51, 2014