BEST goes International

Want to support our international programs? Find out how here!

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:

Meet three generations of BEST youth delegations:

DSC_4790 (2)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).

BFL in KansasRepresenting 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)

nsda_2015Representing 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)

2016-NSDARepresenting 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)

Team BulgariaRepresenting 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

Where does my contribution go?

All funds will be used directly for qualifying student costs related to the trip, including round-trip airfare, accommodation, registration fees, and all on-the-ground costs (food and transportation), and chaperone costs. Students fill out need-based financial aid for the trip, and they pay for their own visas, passports, and any other personal expenses. The cost of the trip varies each year.

  • The cost per student for the 2016 Speech Trip was approximately $3000
  • The cost per student for the 2016 Debate Trip was approximately $920

Any extra funds raised will either go towards BEST operating expenses or student scholarships to attend tournaments (sponsors may designate contribution use if they would like).

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.

Where can I find more information about BEST?

Check out our main Support page to learn more about BEST, as well as videos and personal stories explaining why BEST is simply… the best.