By Ivan Karadzhov (YES 2019-2020, Bulgaria, placed by ACES in Sparta, WI)
My name is Ivan, and I’ve been the Alumni Coordinator for Bulgaria since August 2021. Having been the Alumni Coordinator for five months now, I have some insights to share about this role.
I’ve loved the idea of overseeing a team of active alumni ever since I became a City Representative for Varna after my return from my YES exchange year.
As Alumni Coordinator, I experienced a lot of struggles at first because I had no idea what I was supposed to do. I didn’t have experience in event coordination or strategic planning, but soon I got up to speed and I started to understand all the processes one at a time.
My first couple of months were difficult because I had created very few projects and only two alumni became part of the alumni community — one City Representative and one University Representative. I owe a lot to them for the patience and the activeness that they showed in their work.
My best months came after mid-October. There were still a lot of holes in my work, and I was still missing some deadlines and some project presentations. Yet, I gained a lot of knowledge from the time that had already passed, and the role became a lot manageable. I created a whole working system for myself, and I managed to perform way better.
The best month for me so far was December because I finally gained the knowledge and confidence to plan a bigger and more creative event. The idea came to me at the beginning of November, and everything started from there. I decided to do the event as a thank you to all the alumni who were active in my first few months as an AC and who motivated me to keep improving. We held an alumni reunion for Christmas, and I can proudly say that it couldn’t have turned out better. Everyone who attended loved it because it involved a lot in just two days.
Altogether, we managed to participate in a project to craft gift cards for the elderly in an unpopulated village in Bulgaria, listen to a presentation by an alumna about a project she was working on, and take part in a gift exchange that involved all participants. It was fantastic, and I could tell that everyone had a lot of fun during the event because there was a lot of positive feedback from all the participants.
This not only motivated me even more, but it gave me a sense of growth from my previous months as a coordinator to how I was feeling at the beginning of my term and to how I’m feeling now. Ultimately, the feeling after everything that has happened is incredible.
My story is a testimony that whatever you commit to can be accomplished if you put your heart into it. No one should make excuses if they’re feeling unmotivated or busy.
During the past five months, I've felt unmotivated, like I didn’t know if I could handle the pressure, but I wanted this position and I worked for it. I am a college student who’s working another job, I am a working Alumni Coordinator, and I manage my life between everything. But I love what I’m doing, and I will continue to improve in my work, bringing more value to the Alumni Community in my country.