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ESC in Bulgaria: First day of school – COVID-19 edition

In Bulgaria, the first day of school starts on the 15th of September. I was told during my first few days in Blagoevgrad that this day is like no other because the whole city becomes very vibrant and active. While reminiscing my days in primary school and high school, I was excited to see the students prepare for the new academic year. This year the first day of school was definitely going to be like no other, mainly due to our new reality with the global pandemic. However, even this new situation didn’t stop people from trying to have a good time and be happy.

The organization I volunteer with in Bulgaria, Active Bulgarian Society, also decided to participate in this day with an interesting game for the people of the town – Wheel of Fortune. A few days before the first day of school, we brainstormed ideas about what we could do on this day. We thought that it would be a great idea to engage with the young students in the town by playing a game and offering prizes for the players. It turned out to be one of the most fun days I’ve had so far in Bulgaria!

As the day came, we were glad that it was very sunny, so everyone had an even bigger incentive to spend the day outside. The town was filled with people of all ages and they were all contributing in the school preparation for the young members of the community. Many of the students were walking with their friends in their uniforms, some younger children were buying stationery with their families, but everyone was happy to see each other for the start of the new school year. The whole town became very lively and it was such a pleasure to be there.

Once the day came, the volunteers and I had some last minute preparation in the office in the morning, and then we all head to the center of the city so we can start our event. Along with us, we brought a lot of energy, joyful music and a variety of interesting prizes for all of our participants. Soon enough, we caught the attention of the students and they started coming to us to try their chance in the Wheel of Fortune. The participants could win bags, water bottles, pens, bottle, notebooks, stickers, and many other exciting rewards. Everyone seemed to enjoy the game and many of the participants invited their friends to come and try their luck in the game too.

The event was a complete success! During our game, we also introduced our organization to many young people in the town and some of them started showing regularly to all of our events. Personally, I managed to meet so many new people from the town and this was only one of my first few days in Blagoevgrad. This experience helped me get adjusted to my environment immediately and I already started feeling like at home.

Jovana Jovanovska