AUBG Do-Gooders

What drives you to do volunteer work?


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The end of my MMJ journey

Dear reader,

The time has come – writing the last post for the semester. With only a week left to finals week everyone is buzzing – projects, deadlines, exams, and yet I feel like people do not really appreciate and acknowledge everything that has happened during the semester. Everyone is so concentrated on what’s about to happen in the next 10 days (not that I’m not), but we need to think of the bigger picture – recall all the good memories, the lessons learned, the mistakes or embarrassing moments that turned into hilarious stories to tell – this is what it’s important 🙂

My MMJ journey was definitely a one to remember – with highs and lows, fun times and extreme situations, but every week whenever I posted my newest story I felt grateful for having my own blog and for getting to meet such inspirational people whose views of the world are similar to mine. Now I’d like to take the time to recall all those posts from the past 3 months.

It all started on Tuesday, Sept. 2. I was considering enrolling in the class, but I wanted to check it out first. So I went there and in the first 20 minutes I was already thinking of blog ideas to pitch – everything was happening that fast. I loved the fast pace, the energy and just the class dynamics, so I used the first 2-3 free minutes to enroll officially. By the end of the first class I already had my blog up and running, had said ‘bye-bye’ to Calculus II and had already done my ‘About’ section. So it began.

In the past months I interviewed 9 people in total. They are all very different and we’re not talking only about countries of origin here. However, they were all passionate about volunteering and everything connected to it. Interestingly enough, all of them had similar beginnings – they tried volunteering out of CURIOUSITY! And now they’re all agents for change – spreading the volunteering spirit and doing good in their communities at every occasion possible.

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I want to thank Asen, Margita, Cakic, Bojan, Prof. Chalk and Veni who were my victims in the first half of the semester. They inspired me in many ways and gave me the push to keep on looking for these cool volunteers – they’re out there, I just need to find them! Check out my midterm post where I’ve written a short summary about each of their stories or take the time to explore the full stories AND the videos to each one of them!

After the fall break I kept searching for those volunteering stories. It was pretty hard since one of the most typical traits of the do-gooders is modesty – they do not brag, ever. Even if someone asked about their achievements or more detailed stories (like I was doing) they wouldn’t be very wordy. Nevertheless, I succeeded!

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Omari Lomiashvili

My first victim after the break was Omari Lomiashvili, a Sophomore at AUBG. An interesting fact is that volunteering got us talking in the first place. When I asked him about his volunteering experiences and how it all started, he shared with me that “In Georgia for some reason volunteering is considered a military service.” That didn’t stop him though – he joined several NGOs, went on numerous volunteering projects and trainings all over Europe. Now he can proudly call himself a citizen of the world – one that is confident that he’ll cope in any environment and situation, one that understands eveything happening around him and is not afraid of what’s about to come.

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Nikolay Stankov

Next up was Nikolay Stankov, a Sophomore at AUBG. I knew that he’s been involved in the Red Cross for some time, but after hearing his story I had a whole new impression in my head about the organization itself and him as a person. He told me about those First Aid competitions, how they were put in real life situations and had 5 minutes to sort things out – “(…) As I walk in something sprays on my face, I touch myself and i see blood.” But most importantly I was surprised to hear that after all the tough situations, exhausting trainins and challenging tasks, in the end what he remembers most vividly is the feeling of family – “The feeling of family – that’s what the Red Cross creates. (…) Red Cross becomes a big circle of friends and contacts that you could actually use later on.” His dedication to the organization is remarkable. Niki is currently part of the Disaster Team (meaning that once there’s a situation such as a flood earthquake, etc. – they call him and his colleagues to step in and help out). Once he graduates he plans on working for the Red Cross at their headquarters.

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Anna Golub

My last interviewee was Anna Golub – a bright, young girl, in her last year of studies at AUBG, who’s on the lookout for cool opportunities. Well, she found one – the Winter Paralympic Games. No, she didn’t compete there – she was a volunteer helping out one of the national teams as well as being part of the organization of the big events like the Opening ceremony for example. She talked me through her whole experience – from the application process which lasted nearly 2 years (!) to being at the Games and hanging out in the same room “with the athletes that you usually see on screen.”  How awesome is that? But wait, let’s add more to the awesomeness level – this whole experience counts as an internship towards her Politics major! And if that’s not enough for you, my dear reader, to be persuaded to look deeper into this volunteering opportunity, I don’t know what will be.

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Tsveti in action!

Now it’s time for some reflection time on my side. Throughout the course I learned a lot of things about myself with the first one being that my writings are actually not that bad and that I should have other people read them. The next thing I found out about myself is that I’m not too bad when it comes to operating with a camera and that I have decent ideas when it comes to video concepts. Before this class I haven’t done any video editing before – so I think I’ve improved in that area as well. I learned the hard way to never EVER leave a task to do for the very last moment – it just doesn’t work. In that regard it’s suitable to say that the MMJ class made me acknowledge the importance of the deadlines more than ever. The course also taught me how to behave as a journalist, how to not be afraid to approach people and how to persuade that they have to be part of my interview or video. In short – I’m a bit more pushy than I was before.

Here’s a quick look at all the tools, apps and techniques that I learned how to use and implement – BBC 5 shot video, how to shoot a news packageAudacity, SoundCloud, bitly, YouTube editor,Windows Movie Maker,  WordPress (obviously), Thinglink, Storify, and probably the one that I loved the most – Twitter.

I believe I managed to answer the question of this blog – ‘What drives you to do volunteer work?‘. All my interviewees responded pretty much the same thing – they tried it out of curiousity and then what kept them going was the rewarding feeling they were left with. It becomes an addiction – you keep wanting to help others and do good! That’s also the reason why I’d love to continue posting stories of volunteers at AUBG and not only once I find them. Meaning that I WILL CONTINUE posting, but not on a regular basis.

Thanks to all of you who followed my blog and took part in it in one way or another! There’s a line I like a lot from the movie “Sydney White” saying “(This blog) is not about being read, it’s about being written” – and it’s what I was sticking with the whole semester, but it felt good knowing that people were actually reading the blog.

Here’s something from me :

Wishing you all a successful end of the semester and happy holidays, spent with your most favorite people 🙂

And don’t forget – be good no matter what!

If you like my blog, make sure to give me a like/follow on the social networks :

Facebook page: AUBG Do-Gooders

Twitter account: @AUBGDoGooders

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Volunteering at the Paralympics

Dear reader,

Can you believe that it’s December already? A couple of days ago it was snowing as well. It’s just amazing how fast the time flies and my Multimedia Journalism journey is slowly coming to an end with just one more post after this one left! Nevertheless, I’m super excited to finish it off in a graceful, do-gooder way 🙂 Since it’s my next to last entry (at least for this semester) I wanted to have someone with a much different story than what I’ve covered so far. Yes, of course, it is still related to volunteering, but let’s say it’s something that most people think it’s out of their league so they would never go for it.

Personal archive

Personal archive

Enough with the small talk, let’s get to business. I’m honored to present to you the story of Anna Golub, a fourth-year student at the American University in Bulgaria, majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications as well as Political Science. She comes from Vladivostok, Russia, and she is one very busy lady on campus – being the social media person for BLIMUN, producing a documentary (check out their blog here), helping out at the PTPI Better Community club and actively taking participation in various events. Nevertheless, the first thing that pops up in my mind when I think of Anya is actually what I’ll be telling you about in this post – her experience as a volunteer at the Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia, 7-16 March, 2014.

Let’s start from the very beginning. Anya got introduced to volunteering in the US while taking part in the FLEX exchange program. When she returned back home, she continued helping out as a FLEX Alumni. In 2011 the Winter Olympics began recruiting, but Anya couldn’t apply because she was still underage. That same year she came to AUBG which meant that she would miss all the deadlines to submit the paperwork. To her surprise, one day Anya received an email that they’re still looking for volunteers. Anya didn’t hesitate and applied right away. She was a freshman back then. The whole selection process took almost 2 years. It included the standard application form, assessment tests, additional interviews and online trainings which as Anna shared would take up to two months to complete. Since she got selected to volunteer exactly at the Paralympics she had to read more about how to communicate with people with disabilities. For Anya it was very important since people with disabilities in Russia are isolated to some extent and are looked upon in a different way.

DSC_0830What Anya recalls very well is the moment when she got selected. It was a bit different than what the rest of the volunteers got, since she didn’t receive an official letter saying “Sochi tells you yes.” Instead she got an email asking her to fill in some papers. Anya had no clue exactly what’s happening and the people at the volunteer center were confused as well, but that didn’t stop her enthusiasm. Eventually she found out her position. However,  one week prior the event she understood the team she was assigned to. Anya was the “National Paralympic committee assistant” for the delegation from Spain which consisted of 18 people in total. Her main tasks included accompanying them, arranging their transportation and lodging, making sure they’re on time for certain happenings, cheering them at the competitions and just hanging out with them. She was also translating for them since the team members didn’t really speak English or Russian.

What Anya recalls very well was the energy of a community that is supporting a certain cause.

“Everyone in the (Sochi) area is open-minded and you’ll meet people in the street and they’d always greet you and if they see that you’re wearing the volunteer uniform, they would give you high five. It’s a community unification process.” 

Personal archive

Personal archive

When I asked Anya about her most favorite memory from the Games it took her long to decide what to tell me exactly. What she remembers very clearly is the first time she met with the Spanish delegation. They had just arrived and there was an official introductory meeting for the team. Anya remembers how she felt awkward looks going around the room, but from the very first moment the Spanish people were very welcoming.

“It was very weird to be in the same room and on the same friendly basis with the athletes that you usually see on screen.”

While showing me some keepsakes from the Games and her volunteer uniform we started talking whether or not she would like to help out at the future Olympic Games, Anya shared that she already applied for the Rio Olympics in 2016 and is planning to try out for the next Winter Olympic and Paralympic games in 2018 as well even though she has no clue where she would be and what she would be doing at that time, but she’s keeping her options open.

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I forgot to mention actually that her experience at the Winter Olympics will count as an academic internship towards her Politics major – how cool is that?

You never know, my dear reader, how things will end up happening, so I dare you to be bold, come out of your comfort zone and don’t be scared to take on different challenges. Dream big! A good idea would be to come up with a bucket list of things you’d want to do before you die – I already have mine 🙂 I even started working on crossing off those wishes by applying to the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio happening two years from now. Just like Any I have no idea what I would be doing at that time, but I know I want to be able to breathe in the diversity and feel the team spirit between people from all over the world united by one of the universal languages – sports!

Aim high, think positively and be good no matter what – that’s all I’m going to say. Everything else will turn out fine!

Don’t forget to check out the Storify I did about volunteering at the Winter Olympic Games in general.

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If you like my blog, make sure to give me a like/follow on the social networks :

Facebook page: AUBG Do-Gooders

Twitter account: @AUBGDoGooders


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What does it take to be a Red Cross volunteer?

Dear reader,

here we are back again for yet another exciting volunteering adventure to explore! It’s getting colder outside, you could easily sense the specific smell of a fireplace practically everywhere you go, the Christmas-themed products have already started appearing and most of the students are already dreaming about the winter break that seems so close and yet so far away. But let’s stop dreaming now – we still have some work to do!

DSC_0110This week’s do-gooder is of the type that when there needs to be something done, he puts his mind to it, does everything he can to complete the task and then he would allow himself to think of resting and vacations. I present to you Nikolay Stankov – a musician, politics enthusiast, entrepreneur and a do-gooder. He comes from Ruse, Bulgaria and is also a sophomore student at the American University in Bulgaria, majoring in Business Administration and Political Science. For the past one year Stankov and I lived one step away from each other – our doors were on the opposite sides of the corridor. I would see him in different moods, outfits, situations, but there’s this one thing that really impressed me about him and that’s his big heart and the desire of helping others. That’s why it was no surprise to me to find out that he is part of the Bulgarian Red Cross.

While interviewing Niki I noticed a change in the tone of his voice and his face expression. One specific spark in his eyes appeared as well. He started doing volunteer work as a 10-year-old child in “Caritas” – a church organization to which he was introduced by his grandmother. They were going to foster homes for kids with disabilities, where they would be playing in the kids. Niki really liked it. In 2008 he got introduced to the Youth Red Cross organization (part of the Red Cross but for students) by his sister’s boyfriend who was “legendary volunteer” in his hometown Ruse. It seemed very interesting to him so he went to one of the meetings and that’s how his journey began. With the Youth Red Cross Stankov did fundraising, visited social homes and carried out informative campaigns. He also got introduced to the First Aid team. Niki and his fellow do-gooders would travel all over Bulgaria to various towns to organize campaigns and do fundraising. They would do their job and move to the next town – they had no time to slack around. And yet, he enjoyed every minute of it.

“The feeling of family – that’s what the Red Cross creates. (…) Red Cross becomes a big circle of friends and contacts that you could actually use later on.”

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Winning the medals! (Personal archive)

Besides the Youth Red Cross Niki joined the First Aid team (also called Disaster team.) It was not an easy journey though. He first saw them in action several years ago when there was a severe snow storm in Ruse. For that particular event with the Youth Red Cross they had set up a military kitchen where they would be giving food away to the ones in need. It was then when Niki saw the First Aid team in action – they would be helping out everyone on the spot. Stankov wanted in. At the age of 16 he joined officially. His first activity was a First Aid competition. Niki knew nothing about it and their whole team consisted mainly of newbies. However, not knowing what to expect they still participated. At the end, they actually won the medals. Niki was the leader of the team. The competition included handling 16 real life situations such as a treating a person hit by a car, an explosion, a storm, a massive fight in a club, etc. Stankov still recalls vividly some particular moments from the competition itself.

“Sector 16 was a mass situation – you don’t have just one person on the ground, you have 20 people. As we walked in someone threw a smoke grenade that produced a significant amount of smoke. Me as a leader I had on person to go and check if it’safe to enter and then I’m the one who enters after him. As I walk in something sprays on my face, I touch myself and i see blood.”

They were a team of 5 people. They had 5 minutes to get everyone out, shut everything off, treat the severe bleedings and wounds, spot the 1st, 2nd and 3rd level injuries. It was tough, but Stankov liked it.

Right now Niki is part of the Youth First Aid Response team which is part of the Republic of Bulgaria Disaster Management plan, because to enter the Red Cross you need to be 25 or over. However, as he says in his own words he’s preoccupied with studying, traveling and working, so he doesn’t do fundraisers and doesn’t go to social homes. Whenever a disaster happens, he gets a call from the organization to see if he’s available to help.

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Niki and his fellow do-gooders (Personal archive)

There was one particular happening that Niki recalls very well. It was the summer before coming to AUBG. He had 5 days until the Orientation week on campus. At that time in Mizia terrible floods happened.He worked at the water base and his job was giving out water packages to the people in the area.

“We had an actual situation there. We weren’t dealing with dummies anymore, we were dealing with humans.”  

Being part of this team taught him that you should watch out for yourself and you watch out for the first aider. Working in a real situation is traumatizing and the first aiders are always victims of this and no one should not become a victim of that. A first-aider should not sympathize to the people in trouble, he should empathize.

“Sympathizing is sharing feelings and empathizing is trying to understand how people feel.”

Now Niki is more concentrated on getting his diploma, however in several years he would like to for the Red Cross at their office in Geneva, Switzerland.

That was it, folks! I hope you liked reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Should you have any questions about the Red Cross, make sure to contact Niki or look out for them online.

Here’s a short tutorial by Niki on how to do CPR on an unconscious person:

Wishing you a pleasant and productive week and don’t forget to be good and do good!

If you like my blog, make sure to give me a like/follow on the social networks :

Facebook page: AUBG Do-Gooders

Twitter account: @AUBGDoGooders


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Hello, Storify and Thinglink!

Dear reader,

make sure to check out my very first Storify project! It has information about current volunteering opportunities throughout the UK. Click on the picture below to check it out!

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Storify is a really cool app that can track all the information in the different social media and by using different hashtags to find concrete facts. It makes everything much more interactive and easy to comprehend. I also did one more that I included in my latest post about my friend Omiko – check it out here!

In today’s class besides Storify I learned how to use Thinglink. It’s an application that allows you to tag pictures and by tagging I mean putting useful links that provide you with more information. It can be other websites, social network pages, YouTube videos, etc. It’s very interactive and easy to use!

Here’s a shot of my very first project on that application. Click on the picture to get the full experience!thinglink


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Curious people go places!

Welcome back, dear reader!

It’s been a while since I last invited you to emerge into a volunteering story of a fellow AUBGer, but I hope you haven’t forgotten about the blog and that you’ll be more than willing to join me in the second part of my journey (check out the first part here.) Are you ready? I know I am!

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This week I decided to introduce you to a very close friend of mine with whom I clicked from the very beginning. Coincidentally or not, our very first conversation was about volunteering! Yes, it was a definitely a totally random moment that happened in the middle of the night on the way back to the dorms after a night out during the Orientation week, but it was the start of a solid friendship between fellow do-gooders. His name is Omari Lomiashvili or Omiko as everyone calls him. He comes from Kaspi, Georgia and is currently a Sophomore at the American University in Bulgaria (AUBG), majoring in Business Administration. Most people would refer to him as one of the resident assistants in Skaptopara I dormitory, as an ex-Student Government senator or as part of the TEDxAUBG team, however he was as active even from before coming to Bulgaria and I’ll show you why!

Omiko is a very energetic, easy-going and curious person. He’s been like this all the time and exactly his curious nature brought him to volunteering in the first place. It all started in his high school years when Omiko was around 8th grade. It was right after the Russian-Georgian war in 2008 happened and the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the area were getting more and more active. A representative from one of those organizations came to one of their classes and started telling them about volunteering and the activities of his institution. Everyone in their class was confused and nobody knew exactly what this guy was talking about.

In Georgia for some reason volunteering is considered a military service.

After hearing about the organization and what it does Omiko’s curious and always looking for something new nature decided to join to see for himself what is it like. He started out by taking part in street campaigns, collecting trash and all those basic and simple volunteering activites that are considered to be the beginning of each do-gooder’s journey. Later on Omiko came to the conclusion that he could be doing something more valuable to the community than just picking up the garbage from the pavement. That’s how he decided to create his own club at the school – the Young Volunteers Club – which would be dealing primarily with humanitarian work.

When I asked him about a favorite memory from those times, Omiko quickly answered how there’s one story in particular that he recalls pretty well. Several years for the International Women’s Day on March 8th the youngsters from the club decided to pay a visit to a 90-year-old lady, whom everybody in town knew about. Despite her age she was very active and was helping a lot of animals in the streets. The do-gooders wanted her to change her role and be the treated one instead. Omiko and the rest of the club got her some souvenirs and food, which they delivered to her. The old lady was very happy about it. It was one of those events that touched him the most and that are very dear to his heart.

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Omiko with some of his FLEX friends (Personal archive)

As the young and involved leader that Omiko was emerging to be, he won a spot in the FLEX exchange program in the USA. As you may remember from the Alex Cakic’s story, all the participants in the program have a required number of 20 hours of community service, but the in the end he was awarded with a Bronze Certificate from President Obama for having worked 100 hours in total. Omiko worked in a store where they were selling items that other people would bring in just because they don’t need them anymore. And it was all on a voluntary basis. The prices were also much cheaper than anywhere else. In the end all the money would go to numerous charities.

After coming back from the States, Omiko had one more year of schooto finish before coming to AUBG. That year was also the time when he got to experience one of the coolest sides of being an active volunteer and that is getting the chance to travel to a lot of new places, meet fellow do-gooders and learn more about non-formal education, youth mobility and employability, etc. Omiko was part of several NGOs back in Georgia such as the Georgian Scouts. In that same year he visited Spain, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Macedonia. He’s one lucky guy, indeed.

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Omiko at the Ohrid lake in Macedonia (Personal archive)

The idea behind the trainings was not to volunteer exactly, but we still did some volunteering in the respective countries, because the European programme ‘Youth In Action’ (which recently merged with another programme and became Erasmus+) strongly supports and believes in volunteering activities. Out of all these trips and trainings Omiko got so much more than just additional knowledge.

You get to see different cultures, atmosphere, you get to live with people from different backgrounds and you kinda develop as a person (…) It’s a great opportunity to meet the people that make the difference in the end.

With the busy life Omiko leads at the moment, he doesn’t have much time for volunteering, but he shares that he would love to get back to it once he finds the right people and the right moment to do it.

That was it for this week! Keep up the energy and find your reason to be doing good to yourself, to others, but ultimately having a smile on your face and enjoying every moment 🙂

Here’s how Omiko telling us more how to create a volunteer project!

If you like my blog, make sure to give me a like/follow on the social networks :

Facebook page: AUBG Do-Gooders

Twitter account: @AUBGDoGooders

 

P.S. Surprise, surprise – here’s a Storify project about Omiko that reveals just a glimpse of his super exciting life!

 


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Come so far, got so far to go . . .

Dear reader,

just like that half of the semester is done and the blog is a month and half old. It’s been a short, but enriching learning experience of which I enjoyed every minute. But like the infamous song from the musical “Hairspray” – “Come So Far, Got So Far to Go” – I feel like this is just the beginning. I started out my journey in the Multimedia Journalism class at AUBG back in the first week of September. I still wasn’t sure whether or not to enroll in this course so I just went to check it out, but then again the fast pace and the cool idea behind the class (creating a blog and living the life of the JMC type of person – caring around a camera, asking for interviews and constantly tweeting) that is what lured me in from the very beginning. In that very first class we brainstormed ideas for topics and created our blogs. I am very happy with mine – volunteering is something very special to me and to get to talk to other do-gooders and sharing their stories is something that brings me joy. The second week of class I had my very first try at writing a blog post. I’m used to writing, but I usually keep it to myself. This was the moment when I shared my extensive thoughts with the world. In that very post I defined what volunteering means and what are the popular stereotypes about it. I also explained why I chose exactly volunteering as my topic and what is my answer to the question why do I agree to work for free – “I love doing what I’m doing, I like helping others and I do get paid, but the reward is not monetary.”

Asen Dimitrov

Asen Dimitrov

The third week i interviewed one of the most interesting people on campus (or in my opinion at least) – Asen Dimitrov who is an AUBG alumnus, currently working as an assistant to the president of the university. And yet there’s another side of Dimitrov – the one that is socially active, but not only on campus, but on an international level as well. After all, he was the Bulgarian Youth Delegate to the to the 67th Session of the United Nations General Assembly. He also shares my opinion about volunteering that “Volunteering of any form is about helping others, helping all of us live better”

Margita Kolcheva

Margita Kolcheva

The following week I had the pleasure of discussing what it takes to be a socially responsible citizen with Margita Kolcheva, Junior at AUBG, the current president of the PTPI “Better Community Club” on campus. Kolcheva told me more about the club, what it does, why she enjoys being a part of volunteer actions and also more about her previous do-gooder experience. Kolcheva is one of those people that just won’t stop – being good is in their blood! When you ask her why does she love volunteering, Magi would answer –“it keeps me busy and I feel like I am useful to the society.”

Aleksandar Cakic

Aleksandar Cakic

My third victim was Aleksandar Cakic, Junior at AUBG. A perfect example of a volunteer – a humble, very smart guy, who’s done a lot for his society and peers and yet would never bring it up as a topic unless he’s been asked about it. Thankfully, I did start the conversation with the right questions and in a matter of 30 minutes I understood that the person standing infront of me (Alex) has been awarded by President Obama for his humanitarian work, has been serving as an executive director of an NGO called Think Big Team back in Serbia. Cakic managed all those projects and teams of people during his high school years. Alex’s favorite events to organize would be the low budget ones – “you get more creative you find different ways to do things and it’s more appealing and more awesome if you make it work.” 

Bojan Mircheski

Bojan Mircheski

Just like that the month of September has passed! The first October post (and also the one that received the most attention on the social media – 1 129 people reached on Facebook) was about Bojan Mircheski, Freshman at AUBG, who through volunteering has achieved things that people never manage to do their whole lives. As a part of the youth council in his hometown Prilep, Macedonia, Mircheski along with his peers came up with a project called  “Зборуваj Слободно” (Speak freely) whose biggest success was managing to push the local governance to establish public transportation in the town. That’s not all – he worked on a web series called “ ” (“JustSaying”) which was so successful that ended up winning a Satellite Award (one of the highest distinctions one can get for his/her work in journalism and mass communication). Through all this Bojan made some interesting revelations about himself as well – “[Through the projects] I learned a lot about journalism and I can truly say that it somehow made me fall in love with it [journalism.]”

Dannie Chalk (personal archive)

Dannie Chalk
(personal archive)

The following week was a tough one – AUBG went through some difficult times. We lost one of our own, a piece of our family (here’s a video by The Bubble with more information.) Nevertheless, the whole community gathered together and supported each other in those difficult times. It only seemed appropriate to interview one of the main do-gooders on campus at the time, the unstoppable Dr Dannie Chalk, who along her colleagues tirelessly devoted all of her time to helping others. Chalk told me more about her motivation to volunteer and how powerful a family can be especially in a tough situation – “[…] you all know each other, you know what you can do, you know who’s good at what. There’s no need for conversation, it’s just assumed – you know what people can do –  they go on and do it.

Venera Fileva

Venera Fileva

That exact same week we had the midterm which was definitely a challenge especially knowin that you have only 3 hours and there’s so much to be done. However, I managed to keep all the deadlines, shoot and edit a news package and on top of all I got the chance to hear the story of Venera Fileva, AUBG alumna and currently an Admissions counselor. Fileva took part in an interesting project during the summer which aims to bring the participants back to their roots and show them that before all the big cities with the skyscrapers, subways, etc. there was the village and all its secrets and beauties. Here’s what Veni said about the project – “It brings them [the participants] back to the village where Bulgarian culture started from and makes them preserve what they love about Bulgaria the most.”

Tsvetiana Zaharieva (a.k.a your AUBG Do-Gooder blogger)

Tsvetiana Zaharieva
(a.k.a your AUBG Do-Gooder blogger)

Here I am now – writing post No.9, with already over a 1000 words written. What else I learned from this class so far is that I should never EVER leave the writing for the very last minute and the importance of Twitter (and how #fun it actually is! btw follow me!) I also found out how to create a BBC 5 shot video and make sure to check out my very first one here. I discovered and learned how to work with Audacity, SoundCloud, bitly, YouTube editor, Windows Movie Maker and WordPress (obviously.) Besides that I now know how to create a news package, how to approach people for an interview, how to shoot some specific scenes and how important it is to switch the modes depending on the object you’re shooting. But most importantly – the deadlines are crucial – if you come even a minute later, you’re still late and in the journalism world that is a mistake that may result in sacking.

That was it for now! Now check out the result of my mini survey when I asked some people how owuld they describe volunteering in one word! Hint: Some of the people in the video would later be featured on the blog. Any guesses?

Have a great week, everyone, and don’t forget to be good!

If you like my blog, make sure to like/follow me on the social networks –

Facebook page: AUBG Do-Gooders

Twitter account: @AUBGDoGooders


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A journey from the city to the village

erasmus-logo

Dear reader,

there’s a new hype in town – Erasmus+ ! Theprogram was introduced by the European Commission earlier this year with new rules, regulations and ways to apply. For more info, check out this article.

The program used to be called ERASMUS and it was dealing only with students going on exchange in another university. Now it includes also the European Voluntary Service program as well as the so called “Youth in Action” projects or the youth exchanges.

On the AUBG campus it is quite popular since every semester we have students coming on exchange from all over Europe for example Germany, Spain, Ireland, France and Belgium. Many AUBGers decide to take on this journey as well. However, I’d like to focus my story more on a project that is also connected to exchange, but in a more different way.

You’ve probably seen a young lady, with a bright smile, having this cool vintage vibe around her – well, that can’t be anyone else, but Venera Fileva, an AUBG graduate, Class of 2010, and now currently working at the Admissions office of the university.

DSC_0172This summer she took part in a ERASMUS+ sponsored project. It involved spending a week in a Bulgarian village. Yes, you got that right – she went to a village near the town of Gabrovo and for a week she was spending her days with a family of elderly people .

The initiative was started by a 21-year-old girl. The project is aimed at people at the age of 18 and 28 and it involves young people who would like to go and experience not only the Bulgarian village, but also Bulgarian culture, working on the field, making homemade dishes, milking a goat and just being in touch with nature.

It’s a very exciting project because it really brings young people who live in the cities, who don’t have the chance to experience all of this. It brings them back to the village where Bulgarian culture started from and makes them preserve what they love about Bulgaria the most.

Speaking of going back to where it all started, Veni actually found out about the project from their facebook page. Due to her busy schedule she missed the deadline, but still send them a message congratulating them for the cool idea. At the end she also slipped in the question if they have any free spots available by any chance. Luckily, they had exactly one free place available. They encouraged her to apply anyways. Even though there was some tough competition they picked Ms. Fileva to join the adventure.

For now only Bulgarians are taking part in the project. However, the organizer receives messages from other Bulgarian families who live abroad, asking if they could send their children in their summer break to come and experience the Bulgarian village (or “selo” in Bulgarian.)

You might be wondering how this whole project happened in the first place? Well, the person behind it is a young girl, named Veronika Yosifova. She took part in a writing competition and won the second place. Her idea was picked up by the European Union and the project has been going on for two years now. The initiative is currently being funded by ERASMUS+, but in the first year of operation Yosifova was looking for sponsors herself.

What Veni remembers most vividly is the friends she made in those five days and how up to date the village actually was. During her time there she milked a goat, drove a tractor and learned some new recipes. A fun fact is that she went all the way from Blagoevgrad to Gabrovo and she ended up having a host grandmother from Blagoevgrad! It was extremely fun and energetic.

They [host family] actually made us feel older, because since we live in the cities we aren’t as active and they changed that.

Another curious observation of Veni is how the young people who live in villages that are very well groomed and taken care of by the mayors actually don’t want to leave. They shared with her how they plan to go study in a big town, but then come back and continue what their parents had started.

Unfortunately, it’s not like that everywhere, but at least there’s some hope when there are initiatives like this!

For further information, contact Veni and I’m sure she’ll provide you with all the details and contacts!

That was it for my Multimedia Journalism midterm post.

Stay positive, be good and check out the news package about the story and the poll right below it:

 

 

If you like my blog, make sure to like/follow me on the social networks –

Facebook page: AUBG Do-Gooders

Twitter account: @AUBGDoGooders