сряда, 16 август 2017 г.

EducationUSA Summer Academy 2017
For High School Students

EducationUSA Academy is a component of EducationUSA, the U.S. Department of State-supported network of over 400 advising centers in more than 170 countries around the world that provide prospective international students with accurate, current, and comprehensive information about U.S. higher education.

The EducationUSA Academy is a three-to-four-week summer academic program for non-native English speaking students who range in age from 15 to 17 and reside outside of the United States. Students receive an overview of secondary and higher education systems in the United States and the U.S. college/university admissions process, develop critical thinking and leadership skills, and participate in enriching cultural and social activities.
The EducationUSA Academy’s goal is to create a new pipeline to U.S. higher education for international high school students who may not have otherwise considered studying in the United States by providing them with information and skills to apply to, and be successful as undergraduates at, U.S. higher education institutions.

Three scholarships were provided by the U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria, and supported by the services of the EducationUSA Advising Center at the Bulgarian-American Fulbright Commission. The Center conducted an EducationUSA Academy competition and helped the students prepare for departure to the U.S.

From July 9-August 5, 2017, three high school students represented Bulgaria at the EducationUSA Academy 2017. Gabriela Mankova represented Bulgaria at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, MA. Teodora Yosifova and Hakmet Ahmedov represented Bulgaria at Montana State University, Bozeman, MT.

MSU EducationUSA Academy
July 9 - August 4, 2017

The EducationUSA Academy at Montana State University had a truly unique group of students creating a terrific Academy! The program was a packed experiences including: campus tours and opportunities for the students to speak with several different college admissions teams, intense coursework in ESL and higher education, family homestays, volunteering at the local food bank, speaking at a Rotary International meeting, and interacting with other high school and college students at MSU. Academically the students worked closely with instructors to write two different essays including (a) a personal statement for college applications and (b) MSU EducationUSA Academy reflection essay. Lastly the students created scholarship application videos which involved writing scripts, capturing video footage, conducting interviews, and editing the footage to create their own application videos. The students did a lot in the month they were at Montana State University and the Academy was an amazing experience for them. Following are their MSU EducationUSA Academy reflection essays.

Teodora Yosifova
Junior, "Hristo Botev" Foreign Language High School, Kardzhali

I have always thought visiting the United States is impossible but participating in the EducationUSA Academy proved me wrong. After a month in Bozeman, Montana I am leaving this magnificent place with a lot of new skills, knowledge, memories and friendships. Education USA was one of the best experiences in my life and a dream come true.

The main purpose of the program was to introduce us to American culture and higher education. Before coming here I had already been introduced to it because it is everywhere - from songs and movies to social media. I expected Americans to be nice and kind and they were exactly what I had imagined, even better. For the time I have been here I received nothing but warmness from the Americans, everyone is willing to help you and make yourself feel at home.

After the contribution of EducationUSA I actually consider applying to an American university. I learned that it is not impossible to study in the US, that American colleges offer great scholarships and many opportunities. Visiting different types of colleges and universities helped me make up my mind about what type of higher educational institution I want to study in. I am now aware of the pros and cons of studying in a smaller or a bigger institution. American universities offer a huge variety of undergraduate programs which would make it a lot easier to find the best one for me.

EcucationUSA proved to me that teamwork makes the dream work. One of the skills I gained in the program is working in a team. In and out of class, we were always encouraged to work in groups. As part of the team in class, I would push myself to the limit by taking in my classmates’ advice and knowledge. I developed a higher level of critical thinking and broadened my horizons. Where I found teamwork useful out of class was at the Food Bank Service Learning. We volunteered at Bozeman’s Food Shelter and together we packed almost 500 kg of pasta in just an hour. This is a big achievement for a bunch of high school students who were doing that for the first time.

One of the experiences I am extremely grateful for is getting to know my international classmates. They represented their countries in a great way and I learned a lot from them. Even though our cultures were different we were able to create a strong bond which resulted in friendships we will maintain for a long time after we leave. I will miss everyone and I hope that the German saying “You always meet twice in a lifetime” is true.

Another factor that contributed to my pleasant stay in the United States was Montana’s nature. We visited Yellowstone National Park, one of the most magnificent natural beauties in North America, the first national park ever created. We saw some of the park’s best tourist attractions, but the smaller sites were equally as impressive. You could be walking along and all of a sudden you’d come up on a natural hot spring that has created some of the most beautiful colors due to the different minerals in the water. Other than Yellowstone, the state is famous for its outdoor activities and we were able to taste them, too. We hiked trails in the Rocky Mountains and went sailing in Hyalite Lake - all of these activities kept us enthusiastic for what was ahead of us.

EducationUSA Academy gave me so much. I improved not only my academic skills, but also my way of seeing the world. I feel like a global citizen after interacting with many different people from all around the world. I am grateful for each person I met along my way in the journey called EducationUSA, because you are the ones responsible for who I am right now. Thank you for everything!

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Yellow Stone National Park
World Museum of Mining

Montana State University
Graduation ceremony

Hakmet Ahmedov
Sophomore, "Ekzarh Yosif" FLHS, Razgrad

Education USA Academy was one of the most interesting experiences in my life. This was my biggest achievement and for me everything about the program was fantastic.

During the program I was able to connect with many different people from various countries. The participants in the academy were from all over the world. Together we were able to exchange experience, we learned about each other’s countries and culture and we had a wonderful time full of happiness and joy.

Firstly, the organization of the program was perfect as we were really able to immerse ourselves in the language, culture and life of Americans. I got a better view of the education system, and for the past month I learned what it means to be a college student in the States. Here at Montana State University we were able to visit many places and did a lot of activities not only related with the language, but also   the community and culture of Bozeman and Montana. I found the classes really interesting and useful because I was able to improve my language as a whole and I learned new methods and ways of writing. As we were practicing and improving we also developed and grew as a group. Something really unique was the teambuilding and leadership classes in which we learned the importance of collaboration. Throughout the challenges we realized the importance of succeeding as a team rather as an individual. 

Together we visited Yellowstone with its wonderful natural sights and species: the geothermal lakes, the amazing water cascades, the fascinating geysers, the breathless view of the Yellowstone canyon and its gigantic waterfall. There are no words that can explain this magical, pristine nature. We visited the World Museum of Mining and we were able to see the conditions in which miners worked back at the time. Our trips to the nearby cities allowed us to get a better understanding of the community and atmosphere of Montana. We visited different universities and each of them was unique in their own way. We saw the various opportunities for education and we learned a lot of things related to American Higher Education. On our trips we went with people from different programs and we were able to share our experiences together. For example, when we traveled to the capital of the state Helena we went with the LEAPers, Japanese representatives of universities who came to the US to learn about the education system and bring back something to their countries in order to improve the universities for which they worked. On our trip I sat with such representative and this was one of the most valuable experiences. We were able to share our interests and made a comparison between our countries. We discussed our future endeavors and plans. We talked about our lives and we were able to learn a lot about each other. I will always remember this person – his name was Kei Tanaka and despite the differences we had, we found a lot of similarities and we shared some similar ideas. This whole experience helped me to broaden my horizon even more and created in me even a bigger wish to visit Japan.  Another meaningful connection which I had was with the students from Okinawa. We played games and had fun together. There I made a new amazing friend with whom I will definitely keep connection even after years.

Secondly, I have to mention the contribution and devotion of all the staff and organizers who did their best to make this program my most wonderful experience. Since the start, they were very welcoming and helpful. I found the answers to all of my questions and now because of their fantastic work I have a better vision of the American Higher Education. I am very thankful for everything they did and I really value their useful advice because now I have more information about the application process, scholarships and student support.

Education USA was a dream come true. This was one of the most wonderful adventures in my life. I met all these interesting people and from strangers we became one big family. My decision of applying to the program was one of my best life choices. I felt connected with everyone and everything here. Bozeman became a second home for me for this month full of joy and fun. I will never forget this fantastic experience and this place, and the people that I met here will always have a special place in my heart. Thank you for everything, I really value your contribution, help and advice! I will always remember you and have great memories of my unbelievable experience here at Montana State University.

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Yellow Stone National Park
Food Bank service learning

Hyalite Lake
EducaionUSA Academy class

University of Massachusetts-Amherst
 EducationUSA Academy

Gabriela Mankova
Sophomore, "Hristo Botev" FLHS, Kardzhali

It was a dream of mine to visit the USA someday and I now can say that I have achieved that dream. My staying in the USA was not ordinary. EducationUSA Academy and the Bulgarian American Commission for Educational Exchange Fulbright gave me an opportunity to spend a month in an American university, learn more about the education system in the USA, live in a dorm with an American roommate, have a class of international students, meet great people, and make many unforgettable memories. 

My time in the USA was spent at theUniversity of Massachusetts Amherst. During this one month, each week from Monday to Friday I had classes from 9am to 4pm. My classmates were international students from Kuwait, Honduras, Ecuador, the UAE, China, Georgia, Libya, Canada, Vietnam, Russia, and Japan. All of them were very ambitious, hardworking, willing to work and learn new things with new people. The teacher of our class, Stephanie Brown, was very knowledgeable, friendly, and helpful. We had classes for SAT and TOEFL preparation, which were very beneficial for me, because Stephanie not only made us practice taking SAT and TOEFL, but also gave us good advice on how to have better results on these exams. We also worked on our college essays, common application, CV, and looked for colleges. This helped me have a clearer idea of my academic goals.

Furthermore, Stephanie’s classes were interactive and interesting, she often made us work in groups, share ideas, state our opinion and make researches. But it was not only hard work, there were many fun moments too, such as when we created our class handshake, had different contests, played SET and Bananagrams, had visitors, made presentations, etc. We learned new things about American culture and particularly New England by taking quizzes, searching information or asking natives.

On the weekends we had field trips. They were very well organized and we had a lot of fun. The first one was Farm to Table Field Trip to two local farms. That day we ate ice cream made in Cook Farm and saw the cows there, had a tour in Barstow’s Farm, and ended the day in Look Park with pedal boating, and playing mini-golf. On the second weekend we went to Emily Dickenson’s house. The third field trip was to the amusement park Six Flags New England and the last one was a trip to Boston. During the trips we saw interesting things, like automated robotic cow milker, the house of Emily Dickenson’s brother, the Museum of Science in Boston. We also had firsthand experience with American culture during the trips and on campus, too.

All in all, this was the best experience in my life.Being an international student for one month, and working with other international students was inspiring. Travelling alone to the USA and living there in a dorm showed me that I can take care of myself. I now feel ready to face the challenges of higher education in the U.S.

The text is published in its original and unedited version.