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Help me to [Inspire Bulgaria]!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

A few months ago I was going to the Black sea coast, travelling on a bus (no hitchhiking this time!) just after receiving a 1.000$ scholarship from the 2iFoundation which supports young Bulgarian leaders who are studying abroad. Previously, I was very moved by the kind efforts of Petyo Angelov (May his soul rest in peace!)- a talented writer and polyglot who knew over 30 languages who graduated my High School and also gave scholarship to distinguished students. These and other situations in which I have received support to learn, travel and create motivated me to seek ways to continue having an impact and giving back to the community. Despite not being in charge of the organization I started years ago (which is now in the hands of my wonderful friends) since living the “American dream” cast in the serene state of Vermont.

The proposal that you will see below is the idea I came up with back then and which I reminded myself a couple of days ago not being able to think about much else since then.The provided information is now submitted to MiddStart (the Middlebury college crowd-funding platform) and hopefully will be accepted and funded!

Nevertheless, I need a lot of serious feedback from both Bulgarians and foreigners, and I will appreciate any input! Please, comment below so that we can build dialogue! Thank you! 

INSPIRE BULGARIA

207297_201145059926499_2777742_nProject objective: providing young Bulgarians who want to organize low-budget projects with micro- funds to help them implement their ideas.

Brief description:

Inspire Bulgaria will be a social fund providing financial support to Bulgarian High School and University students who have ideas for low-budget projects that will benefit both themselves and the society (e.g. fundraisers, community service initiatives, eco actions, awareness campaigns, etc.)

The funding opportunities will be promoted in High Schools and through various partnering NGOs, so that more young people can learn about it. The application process will be accessible to young people and open throughout the year.

In addition to the financial support project organizers will receive mentorship and advice how to promote their projects around peers, improve their leadership skills and the quality of their projects, etc. Priority will be given to ideas that include participation of peers and have impact on the society. In the summer time a day-long event will be organized to receive feedback, create a sense of community among the young leaders, work in groups and focus on different topics which will further on develop understanding and skills.

The results of the funded initiatives will be disseminated through their appearing in the Facebook group of the project. A simple website will be created to promote the project and give access to valuable and easy to read articles connected to project planning, funding and implementation.

The funding received by MiddStart will be used to aid these youth projects and initiatives and create a web platform.

What is the inspiration for your project?

Chaya KolevaWhen I was in 9th grade I started a youth charity and volunteering organization in my High School. Our first initiatives were weekly events in orphanages and homes for elderly people. In addition, we organized a lot of street events and campaigns to raise awareness towards the benefits of volunteering, positivism, doing Good.

Whenever I see or take part in something new that engages me, I try to master it and spread it so that it reaches and benefits as many people as possible. When I went to my first youth exchange (a 10-day informal education and volunteering project in another country with participants from several European countries), I was determined to organize a project like that myself so that my friends and fellow volunteers could participate, too. A year later my organization received funding from the European Union to implement the project I created and ever since we have been partnering and initiating such projects all around Europe, including hundreds of young people.

Most of the local projects I have organized have been either low-budget or not financed at all. This was able due to the fact I have always used alternative ways to provide what we had needed. For example, when we were visiting institutions for disadvantaged people I always contacted local companies that either sell or produce sweets, children’s books, balloons, etc. and asked them to donate some. For the tea actions we organized during the winter season when we handed free tea to strangers on the streets of Sofia and talked with them about volunteering, I had engaged several shops and small companies to give us free tea, sugar, electric kettles and print leaflets. I found out that this is a good strategy since many people would like to donate things they make or have rather than money. While such an approach might seem too complicated, it was indeed inclusive: so many people participated in some way for the implementation of this otherwise small project!

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While this approach worked great for my organization, I realize that not every young person may receive the same support or have the confidence to reach out and ask for it. I want to give the chance to any young person who has an idea of some sort to receive both financial and moral support to do it while not being affiliated to an organization and having full control over the planning and implementation of his/her project and possibly- follow up.

Being able to create something, make mistakes, face challenges, celebrate small triumphs, grow as a leader and as an individual has transformed me so much! I have seen so many of my peers who became active contributors to the organization I started evolve and grow and strive to learn, make a change and fulfill their potential and I am truly committed to keep trying to inspire!

Project cost:

294985_403772489663754_993240637_n2000 USD

Converted in Bulgarian Leva this sum will be able to cover the costs for a great number of low-cost student initiatives. If we estimate the average cost of  a student project to be about 35$ which is quite reasonable, then with that sum we can fund about 55 projects!


God speaking through us

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

We shall lift each other upIt was a hot summer afternon and the city was sweating. It was my first time in Burgas since I was little, but I didn’t feel like sightseeing. I kept on pulling my suitcase after me as Tsvety and I searched for something to eat.

As we walked the main street we stopped to listen to some street musicians- two beautiful boys playing guitars and singing rock songs in Bulgarian. There was something different in their singing as they didn’t try to sound as the original performers, but sang as if they were the first ones to.

I put my suitcase on the ground and sat on it. There was a little crowd gathered around them  in a semi-circle. When they stopped playing we clapped and waited enthusiastically for the next song to begin. When it was over and I once again awoke from the trans I had fallen into, I asked them to play my favourite song.

I felt touched, unable to explain why. Same deep feeling of joy as when my friends and I gather and sing together, mumbling the words we don’t know and singing out loud the songs we love. And it always fels very special, very simple and authentic. And I never get bored.

Tsvety and I left quickly to grab some pizza for dinner and soon returned and sat again to listen. The boys smiled to us and we felt as special guests rather than strangers now.

As I was sitting on the ground, in the middle of the street busy with people, moving determined in all directions, I felt moved. My eyes were catching the eyes of the boy singing and we were both smiling, naked in the depth of the glances, in the song and the silence.

It was a most intimate moment between strangers.

With the end of the last song they asked us if we were waiting for the train and we nodded. They said they could finish a bit earlier this night and we all sat nearby to talk.

Within a couple of minutes, I was drоwning in dissapointment. Their voices were full with sarcasm and the music composed by their words was everything but inspiring. While the first boy was disparaging pretty much everything we tried to speak about, the other one was somewhat modest, but quite disilusioned. He didn’t seem to be happy with his life and referred to his being a musician as doing something for the sake of doing something.

As they talked to us about their fellow musicians, using them and people not caring about good music, the whole situation felt bitter-sweet. The joy was gone with the end of the last verse and was not coming back, at least not before the next performance. I felt sad and I felt offended. In the next few minutes I made the effort to give them something: my own, sincere feedback on their music and the atmosphere they created, which people DID value and appreciate. But it all felt as a cliche. Their souls if opened throughout the singing were now shut, scratching on the surface could only hurt me.

I said we had to go to catch the train and we left soon. No Facebook exchange done and no photos taken.

I can not have small talk, while I’m all naked.

*

The more I think about this evening, the more I try to find some sort of explanation to ease the pain I still feel remembering.

The pain is caused by the sudden intimacy born in the simple act of singing together and having each other in the hold of a gaze and the abrupt distance created right after.

This encounter shaked me somehow and made me think about being an artist and creating art- just as the noble men of Ancient Greece I expected that the beauty of the music created by the two boys was mirroring the beauty of their souls and intellect. And while this might not always be true, I have the feeling that there is more to that…

**

Last year when Carsten came to Bulgaria to be with me, but things did not turn out the way he expected them, I stayed speechless trying to figure out what to tell him to ease his pain. What I told him back then was that may be we have given each other what we had to give; we have learned what we had to learn from each other for the moment, and that we had to let each other go in order to be able to share intimacy and love again some day or not. I did not merely understand what I was saying back then. It took me about a month to realise its meaning. But while I was trying to fall asleep one night, I figured this is exactly what I had to understand myself months and moths ago after I broke up with my last boy friend who I kept loving insanely for about two years after. I realised that this is what it’s all about- meeting, getting to know each other, learning, raising each other up, not staying together for the sake of simply being together… And only then Love can be forever, even though still dynamic, evolving…

***

I believe there are these moments in which a power greater than us takes control of us and speaks on our behalf. Or sings. Or plays. Or draws. Or writes. God that is in us, whether we know it or not, speaks through us, and we ourselves are speechless in surprise. We only have to learn to live up to him.563798_10100475498289621_1349969739_n

♥Maggie Nazer is a social entrepreneur, activist, blogger and current Middlebury college student.


Cutting the Umbilical Cord to Facebook

Categories: General, Midd Blogosphere


This week, my guest blogger is Leah Fessler ’15. As a Narrative Journalism Fellow and contributor to
middbeat.org and the Campus, she’s learned a thing or two about interacting face-to-face. Please join in the discussion; your comments are always welcome. —Shirley M. Collado
 

“I’m actually not on Facebook anymore.”

Not too long ago, I’d roll my eyes upon hearing this statement, instinctively dismissing the speaker: their loss. When I entered high school in 2007, Facebook was a rite of passage, a patiently awaited privilege. I undeniably associated my acceptance to “the Wellesley High School Facebook network” with maturity and social opportunity.

Six years later, I frequently receive vexed looks upon announcing I’m seven months “Facebook free.” Many deem my social media “breakup” hypocritical. Maybe it is. Nevertheless, it appears that I’ve joined a rapidly growing “trend” of college students deactiving their Facebooks.

I hesitate to label this recurrent pattern a “trend,” because I’m somewhat irked by the mindlessness it implies. But some people do believe that it’s just the “next cool thing to do.”  Many argue that students are now getting off Facebook for the same reason they got on: because everyone else is doing it. On some level, they’re right. Any social movement requires an impetus, and the “if they can do it, I can too” mentality only increases as more people hop on board. But beyond friends’ positive reviews, I, and most who have deactivated, acted with cogent reasoning.

I “logged off” because I believe interpersonal interaction on Facebook is, largely, an allusion. As social beings, we’re fundamentally motivated to be connected, whether to friends, family, crushes, exes, acquaintances, etc. It’s far too easy to feel as if we’ve sustained such connections with 10 minutes of minified scrolling, photo swiping, or wall-to-wall reading. Yet, these actions truly entail little to no thought or effort, and, at least in my experience, can be more honestly classified as “acceptable” procrastination. Intentions may be sincere, but the majority of Facebook “interactions” fuel one-sided relationships. I found myself viewing friends’ abroad albums, crushes “liked music,” or my little cousin’s high school escapades, and feeling, whether consciously or not, closer to said person, despite their utter absence from the “interaction.” So, what did I receive? Instant gratification: the root of most addictions.

I don’t mean to come off as the psycho anti-Facebook crusader, either. Facebook is useful for “checking in” with acquaintances, event planning, and news publication.

But recent studies show that, on average, Americans spend an astonishing eight hours per month on Facebook (compare to two hours on Google). I sincerely doubt the majority of these hours are spent on event planning or news literacy. Despite its guises, Facebook truly cures two ailments: boredom and laziness.

We’re all busy. But why not spend your 10-minute Facebook “break” calling a friend and actually conversing? I’ve found a few minutes of tone, inflection, and laughter (or lack thereof) communicate far more than a wall-post, photo, or even a lengthy inbox ever could. Why not grab a meal with a Midd friend, or chat for a few minutes face-to-face? We live in (overwhelmingly) close proximity. There’s really no excuse.

I’ve got no agenda to tell you how to live your life. But having experienced life “off the book” and the more genuine social interactions it’s forced me to pursue, I’d strongly suggest trying deactivation. Even a temporary break can help develop healthier communication habits. You have nothing to lose.

 

 

Looking for inspiration? Flexibility? Free food? Intern at a startup!

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

So you’ve heard of an internship. You’re thinking of doing one. But where?

How about at a startup? New School University student Danielle Small has some great reasons to pursue an internship at a startup – ten reasons, to be exact. Constant inspiration, flexibility, no bureaucracy, free food… the list goes on. After interning at a startup herself, Danielle “quickly found out that this wasn’t a traditional internship filled with coffee runs, but it was a crash course in what it takes to be an entrepreneur.”

Check out the whole story – 10 Reasons Every College Student Should Intern at a Startup.

Convinced? Ready to find an internship at a startup? Start at Mojo, Midd’s first stop in finding an internship. go/mojo

Shun Bao Digital Archive (trial access extended through April 16)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Middlebury College is extending a trial to The Shen Bao Digital Archive (1872-1949), formerly transliterated as Shun Pao or Shen-pao (申報), the Shanghai News. Learn more about Shen Bao, published from April 30, 1872 to May 27, 1949 in Shanghai, China.


Search the archive here or on the New & Trial page (go/trials).

Please send feedback to Please send comments to Rebekah Irwin (rirwin@middlebury.edu) or your library liaison.

WRMC added to the Portal and Mobile site

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

You can now listen to WRMC 91.1 FM on the go, anywhere in the world on your mobile device and computers. Both the High Quality (192k) and Low Quality (96k) streams are available by clicking on the WRMC logo on the mobile dashboard or hovering over the icons at the top of the portal to see the WRMC option which appears in the second row. Remember, you can use the portal customization features to move it up in the list if you want to make it even easier to find.

Chinese language databases (trial through May 15)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Along with over ten liberal arts colleges, Middlebury has arranged to trial several Chinese language research databases.

Airiti Library for Chinese journals, dissertation, etc. (trial access through May 31)

Airitibooks Chinese eBooks (trial access through May 31)

CNKI Chinese Databases (trial access through May 31) Through CNKI (Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure) we have access to all China Academic Journals (CAJ) (1915 onward), dissertations (1984 onward), theses, proceedings, and newspapers.

Middlebury users can access these databases on the New & Trial page (go/trials).

Please send feedback to Please send comments to Rebekah Irwin (rirwin@middlebury.edu) or your library liaison.