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At BEST, we provide opportunities for our students to compete internationally. BEST is the first organization in Bulgaria to provide opportunities for motivated and talented Bulgarian youth – regardless of financial background – to compete in English-language speech and debate internationally. We seek your support for our two delegations:
- The BEST Speech delegation to the US National Speech and Debate Tournament in the USA each June – In 2017, six student champions traveled to Birmingham, Alabama for the US National Speech and Debate Association tournament, competing in the events of Original Oratory and Duo.
- BEST “Team Bulgaria” which sends top debaters to an international competition each July – In 2017, eight top student debaters traveled to the “Heart of Europe” International Debate Tournament in Olomouc, Czech Republic.
Meet four generations of BEST youth delegations:
Representing Bulgaria at the 2017 Heart of Europe International Debate Tournament
From left to right, top row: Lachezara Toneva (Judge), Krasimir Kirilov, Rumen Marinov (Judge), Nikola Mihaylov
From left to right, middle row: Mira Radoslavova, Rukiye-Ayshe Egeli, Ekaterina Pavlova, Aleksandra Peneva, Dena Popova (Judge)
From left to right, bottom row: Kristiya Navushtanova, Zahari Nikolaev
Representing Bulgaria at the 2017 NSDA National Finals in Birmingham, Alabama.
From left to right: Neli Velichkova (Duo Interpretation), Magdalena Tancheva (Duo Interpretation), Bozhidar Stoyanov (Duo Interpretation), Emily Enquist (Chaperone), James Mott (Oratory), Stefani Chobanova (Oratory),
Kristiana Hristova (Duo Interpretation)
Representing Bulgaria at the 2016 Heart of Europe International Debate Tournament
From left to right, top row: Ralitsa Belcheva, Seda Radoykova, Anna-Maria Paleshnikova, Aleksandar Venchev, Gabriela Ivanova
From left to right, bottom row: Stefani Chobanova, Magdalena Tasheva, Iveta Ivanova, Hristo Mihaylov, Boyana Atanasova
Representing Bulgaria at the 2016 NSDA National Finals in Salt Lake City, Utah.
From left to right: Alexandra Petkova (Oratory), Karolina Kostadinova (Duo Interpretation), Nansi Dasheva (Duo Interpretation),
Reid Furubayashi (Chaperone), Veni Chiron (Oratory)
Representing Bulgaria at the 2015 NSDA National Finals in Dallas, Texas.
From left to right: Elena Trayanova (Spoken word Poetry), Viktoria Nestorova (Oratory), Karolina Kostadinova (Duo Interpretation), Maya Todorova (Duo Interpretation), Preslav Vachev (Oratory), Nansi Dasheva (Duo Interpretation), Kamelia Gazdova (Duo Interpretation)
Representing Bulgaria at the 2014 NSDA National Finals in Kansas.
From left to right: Nia Docheva (Oratory), Claire Sagstuen (Chaperone),
Georgi Dumanov and Katherine Krem (Duo Interpretation)
Team Bulgaria members and US Qualifier winners stand for applause with AUBG President Stratsi Kulinski at the 2016 National Tournament closing ceremony. With the help of our donors, many of these students (as well as others not pictured) will go on to represent BEST and Bulgaria in international competitions this summer.
From left to right: Boyana Atanasova, Aleksandar Venchev, Gabriela Ivanova, Seda Radoykova, Ralitsa Belcheva, and Hristo Mihaylov (Team Bulgaria); Alexandra Petkova, Nansi Dasheva, Karolina Kostadinova, Veni Chiron, Mario Mateev, and Marieta Milusheva (US Qualifier winners).
Why does BEST provide these opportunities?
BEST believes that providing intercultural exchange opportunities falls in line with our mission to support Bulgarian youth in developing global citizenship skills. In addition, students have the chance to represent Bulgaria as youth cultural ambassadors in a unique way, gain confidence, and learn valuable speech and debate experience which they share with their teams once they return home.
How are the students selected?
For each trip, students go through a rigorous selection process:
- For Speech: Students who have participated in at least one regional tournament during the current academic year have the opportunity to compete in the events of Original Oratory and/or Duo in an annual “National United States-Qualifier Tournament” each March. Each school may send only 4 entries per category. This means that the level of competition is exceptionally high. Students compete in 4-5 preliminary rounds. Top 12 make semifinals, and top 6 make finals. Each round is judged by 3 different people. The top 2 entries in each category qualify for the USA, and the first-place winners may receive up to full funding, depending on financial need.
- For Debate: Students go through a competitive three-part application process. First, they must write a creative essay and a statement of interest for being on the team. Each application is judged blind. The top 15-20 applicants complete an interview with BEST staff, in which they must improvise a response to a debate topic in English on the spot. The top ten students are admitted to a week-long training camp, complete with lectures and debate practice. Based on performance in camp and at a national tournament, the top six students are selected to compete internationally.
How many years has BEST done this?
BEST has sent a Bulgarian speech delegation to the United States since 2014. In 2014, we sent three students; in 2015 – seven students; in 2016 – four students. In 2015, one student representative, Elena Trayanova, was the first Bulgarian to place in the Top 6 of the “Light the Stage” International Spoken Word Poetry Competition. She also placed in the Top 50 in Expository Speech. In 2016, two student representatives, Alexandra Petkova and Veni Chiron, placed in the Top 60 in Prose Interpretation.
In 2016 – Team Bulgaria’s first year – the ten-member team received special training in World Schools Debate before six team members went on to represent Team Bulgaria at the Heart of Europe International Debate Tournament in Olomouc, Czech Republic. BEST is the first organization in Bulgaria to select students through a competitive process for a national debate team.
In 2017, BEST again fielded two international delegations in speech events and debate. 6 students competed in the NSDA National Tournament in Birmingham, Alabama, this time fundraising for the costs of the trip themselves with the help of their coaches. 8 students were selected and trained to compete at Heart of Europe, going up against teams from 36 countries! Debaters Nikola Mihaylov and Kristiya Navushtanova placed 2nd and 4th, respectively, for Best Individual EFL Speakers.