By Viktoria P. (YES 2018-2019, Bulgaria, hosted by AYUSA in Stewartstown,
This month has been
great – I celebrated my first Halloween, took part in International Education
Week (IEW) and then had my first Thanksgiving! It has been unforgettable, and I’m so thankful
for the opportunities that YES gives me!
In celebration of IEW, I made my host family traditional Bulgarian dishes - banitsa
and moussaka. Banitsa is a typical breakfast made with pastry, eggs and typical
Bulgarian cheese which you bake. Moussaka is made with potatoes, meat, onions,
carrots, and tomato sauce. Everything is mixed together and then baked in the
oven. My host family absolutely loved the dishes, so much so that there were no
For IEW, I decided
to visit my middle school on the International Day of Tolerance (November 16) and
do six presentations and a speech. Then, Tuesday of
the following week, my high school organized a presentation in the auditorium for
all students who study a foreign language. In total, more than 250 people came
to my presentations! I shared many things about my country: geography and
history, cuisine, interesting and strange facts, and even dance. Dancing is my
passion - I dance Bulgarian folklore dances professionally, so when I asked my
classmates if they wanted to learn a traditional dance, they were so excited! I
also shared about Bulgarian holidays, music, rituals, and traditions!
every presentation, the students had many more questions than before; they were
curious and demonstrated much interest in what I shared. I am most grateful for
this! To celebrate International Day of Tolerance, I also made a poster with a “tolerance” tree on it. After my presentation, I asked people to write what tolerance means to them on a sticky note, and we put all their notes on the tree – it was so full!
To make my classmates aware of International Education Week and the International Day of Tolerance, I wrote two articles for my school’s newspaper: one about the holiday and the other about the differences between high schools in Bulgaria and the U.S. I am so grateful to have participated in IEW. I hope I made an impact, and I’m happy that I shared so much about the beautiful place I call home! Not only do I feel like part of my community, but I also feel very connected with my country.
Finally, this past week
has been very busy. On November 16, my drama club had the first show of the fall play: 12 Angry Jurors. It was an
amazing experience that has helped me to meet so many new people, many of whom are
now some of my closest friends. The rehearsals were long, but everything was
worth it because it turned out great! We had two more shows, and each time, the
auditorium was full! I will always remember the first show - it was so
emotional. I can’t wait for the musical! On top of all of this, I still even managed
to find time to volunteer at my local library and church.
After a busy three weeks, Thanksgiving came, which felt like a reward! I spent a
really amazing time with my host family: we cooked together, watched films, and
played board games, and I’m so thankful that they give me so much support and believe
in me and the things I’m doing!
Thank you, YES!