By Vyara Nikolova (YES 2017-2018 Bulgaria, hosted by YFU in Farmington Hills, MI)
I am a firm believer in the concept “quality over quantity.” So, I started planning my presentation about my country on my first day in America, when our teacher mentioned International Education Week (IEW). I only wanted to make one presentation during IEW, but have it be the absolute best possible presentation. I had so many ideas for my presentation, but I knew I had to pick just the best ones. So, by the end of October I already talked to my counselor on the topics of: how to create a successful presentation, where the best location is, and when the most people will be available. After that we made arrangements for my presentation: the location was the media center, the date was November 29, the topic was Bulgaria’s culture, and the audience was anyone who wanted to attend—from freshmen to seniors and staff. Now, it was time to advertise my presentation and make sure that as many people as possible would come, so I was handing out flyers, designing and hanging posters about it around the school, and even promote it during the morning announcements. All of this was made possible by the awesome staff in my school that gave me plenty of helpful tips on how to achieve my goals and some great friends (old and new!) that helped me with things like advertising and preparation.
The big day was here – and I was so excited! I had the whole hour to give my presentation, so I made the most of it. We started with a fun Kahoot game with 20 questions, which gave the participants an opportunity to see how much they know about my country already, and the top 3 people got prizes like rose oil souvenirs, magnets, and keychains—and they loved it! Then I explained some of our most interesting and outstanding traditions, like the Surva festival, and I answered plenty of questions that people had about my country. I also gave them a little lesson on our alphabet and how to pronounce the letters and it was hilarious. After that, we watched some videos about the beautiful nature we have in Bulgaria and I was telling them unique stories about those places, like the legends of the Rila mountains. And the cherry on top: we listened to some traditional folklore music while tasting some typical foods like lyutenitsa (spicy vegetable spread), candies, and bread.
All of the outcomes of this presentation were positive. I gained more new friends that were interested in my culture and I got to teach people about a passion of mine—Bulgaria. I also learned more about the perspective that Americans have of the world, which was incredibly interesting and it’s a lesson that I won’t forget. I learned new ways to make a presentation attractive, educational, and fun all at the same time, and how to advertise and manage my time wisely. I learned how nice people are and that if you ever need help there’s always someone there to offer it to you. I got to see my school in another light through the chats I had with my counselor and the media center staff, and now our relationship is even greater than it originally was, which makes me so happy. And lastly, I got to see my potential to do great things, which motivates me to be as good as I can be.
International Education Week was an emotional rollercoaster that taught me that putting extra effort into your work always makes a positive difference. I’ll never forget this experience and I’m eternally grateful that I got the chance to have it.