2016 SA Retreat Press Release

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BEST Foundation holds its 2016 Student Ambassador Retreat in Plovdiv

From 16-18 September, the BEST Foundation held its annual retreat for new Student Ambassadors. Thirty high school students from across Bulgaria gathered in Plovdiv for trainings, workshops, and discussion. The students in attendance were experienced BEST participants and have taken on leadership roles within their local speech and debate clubs. The retreat focused upon building leaders, fostering community, and providing students with fundraising and recruitment tools.

Also in attendance was special guest Dr. Ronald Harvey, formerly of Chicago’s DePaul University and currently a Professor of Psychology at American University in Bulgaria (AUBG); Dr. Harvey opened the retreat weekend with an improvisation workshop focusing on physical and cognitive exercises. Other instructors were members of BEST’s Management Team including Molly O’Keefe, Andrew Malin, Violeta Dimitrova, Petar Donchev, Reid Furubayashi, and Executive Director Dena Popova.

Additional activities included workshops on building BEST speech and debate teams, creating fundraising programs, and organizing community projects.

“The energy the SAs brought to the retreat was electric,” said Andrew Malin, a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant and BEST’s Student Ambassador Co-Coordinator. “I was so impressed with their ability to balance professionalism and fun — two traits that they will definitely employ as they continue to be leaders in their communities this year. [We] couldn’t have asked for a more eager, open-minded, and intelligent crew of SAs. They’ll most certainly be dynamic leaders on the BEST team while carrying out a broad range of community projects!”

The thirty Student Ambassadors will continue to be leaders within BEST and in their own towns throughout the academic year. The retreat provided a forum for these talented and motivated students to create a network of like-minded teens across Bulgaria; they are now tasked with building off this momentum to become leaders on their teams, as well as in their schools and communities.

About The BEST Foundation
Founded in 2013, the BEST (Bulgarian English Speech and Debate Tournaments) Foundation provides the English-language learners of Bulgaria an opportunity to come together and pursue personal growth through English language speech and debate. BEST empowers participants to think critically, express themselves creatively, and create a dynamic community that truly cares about the success and future of Bulgaria.