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FISI 2013

The twelfth Fulbright International Summer Institute (FISI) took place at the RIU Pravets Resort on August 12-23, 2013. Hundred and eleven students from Bulgaria, Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Greece, Pakistan, Singapore, Ukraine, and USA took part in the Institute. Their academic backgrounds ranged from political science, law, economics, international relations, history and business administration to information technology,  philosophy, communications and media, biological sciences, anthropology, philanthropy, linguistics, German studies, sociology, and musicology.

FISI 2013 was organized by the Bulgarian Fulbright Commission but its ultimate success heavily depended on the financial support, cooperation and synergy of several other institutions: America for Bulgaria Foundation, the U.S. Embassy, Sofia University and its Centre of Excellence Dialogue Europe, the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Among the participants were 26 BA students from the Ross School of Business led by Professor George Siedel. They attended his course on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution and were offered a special program that involved meetings with prominent Bulgarian entrepreneurs and visits to business companies. Upon return to the U.S., the students were supposed to write a consulting report on doing business in Bulgaria – you can read the best one, by Phyllis Lam, here, courtesy of Prof. Siedel.

Dr. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi from the University of Peshawar, Pakistan, also brought students from their home institutions. Doctoral and postdoctoral students from the Centre of Excellence at Sofia University attended special team-taught courses and participated in a research forum. Master’s students from the program in philosophy and the program in  communication, language and literature, both offered at Sofia University, also participated and received credits for the classes they had selected.

FISI offered a total of 12 interdisciplinary courses conducted by 31 distinguished professors and experts from prestigious universities and institutions such as Harvard University, University of Michigan, University of Peshawar, Sofia University, New Bulgarian University, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Arizona State University, Tufts University, University of Dayton, Phelps Dunbar LLP, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, American Research Center in Sofia (ARCS), Bulgarian National Radio, The Red House Center for Culture and Debate and the Association of European Journalists – Bulgaria.

The new group of 24 English Teaching Assistants were offered a six-day professional training which involved presentations, workshops and discussions with Bulgarian mentor teachers, ETA alumni, and TOEFL experts from ETS. The sessions were devoted to topics related to the ETA work in class: lesson planning, classroom management, assessment, extracurricular activities, multilevel teaching and many more.

Along with the FISI courses, the new group of American Fulbright lecturers, graduate students, and ETAs were offered cultural orientation, professional training and an intensive two-week course in Bulgarian language. The interdisciplinary Bulgarian Culture course introduced participants to Bulgaria’s history, education, media and science.

Official guests were part of different segments of the Institute’s program. Prof. Anelia Klisarova, Minister of Education and Science, and Natalia Miteva, Program Director at the America for Bulgaria Foundation greeted all participants at the official opening on August 12. U.S. Ambassador to Bulgaria Marcie Ries gave a short speech in front of all participants and met with the new batch of Fulbright English Teaching Assistants. Elizabeth Fitzsimmons, Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy and Richard Seipert, Deputy Regional Security Officer participated in an orientation session for the  AY 2013-14 US grantees.

A visit to the Saeva Dupka Cave and the scenic Troyan Monastery in the village of Oreshak offered FISI participants a glimpse of the beautiful nature and the rich cultural heritage of Bulgaria, as well as a taste of the traditional Bulgarian cuisine. Classical music lovers had the chance to enjoy the opera Aida and the ballet W. A. Mozart - Prodigy of Europe on the lake stage at RIU Pravets Resort as part of the nineth edition of the annual Mozart Festival.

We would like to thank all students, lecturers and participating institutions for making FISI such a memorable experience!

Special recognition and gratitude is due to America for Bulgaria Foundation and the Embassy of the United States of America for their generous financial support.

The contribution of the Centre of Excellence Dialogue Europe at Sofia University is also greatly appreciated.


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