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Stargirl

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

download“When a stargirl cries, she sheds not tears but light.”
― Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl

Wonderful, wonderful book, which miraculously found me through the amazing Christmas gift of Kalina Bibishkova who came at home to give it to me, saying I reminded her of Stargirl- a compliment most valuable and heart-warming. I did see myself in the book, but it also served as a great inspiration to me to keep on being authentic, peeling off layers of fear…

I read the book “at one breath” as we say in Bulgarian. And at every description I saw you, too, Kalina. Thank you for the Christmas miracle. I guess we aren’t strangers if we share the same path, the same “life mission”: to be at all times in love, to create Love and to breathe Love.

“Star people are rare”- the author says. But I have the feeling each and every one has a Star person lying somewhere deep in ourselves. To be awaken as Star people we need to dig deep into ourselves, but we also need each other, to support each other and show each other our greatness no matter whether we see it or not. And to that I dedicate my life, my Love, my words, my actions, my body, my min and soul, and… I’m not giving up. I’m not giving up on wanting to be better, to be free, to Love and be Loved, … After the n-th brake up/failure/whatever, we go on, enriched, but not thrown down. We, stargirls. 

stargirlred“Of course we did other things too. We walked. We talked. We rode bikes. 
Though I had my driver’s license, I bought a cheap secondhand bicycle so 
I could ride with her. Sometimes she led the way, sometimes I did. Whenever 
we could, we rode side by side. 

She was bendable light: she shone around every corner of my day. 
She taught me to revel. She taught me to wonder. She taught me to laugh. 
My sense of humor had always measured up to everyone else’s; but timid 
introverted me, I showed it sparingly: I was a smiler. In her presence I 
threw back my head and laughed out loud for the first time in my life.
She saw things. I had not known there was so much to see. 
She was forever tugging my arm and saying, “Look!”
I would look around, seeing nothing. “Where?”
She would point. “There.”
In the beginning I still could not see. She might be pointing to a doorway, or a person, or the sky. But such things were so common to my eyes, so undistinguished, that they would register as “nothing” I walked in a gray world of nothing.” 
― Jerry SpinelliStargirl


Fund inspiration! : )

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Dear friends, passers-by, soul-mates,
help me kick off this project so that we can all support youth empowerment and help young people in Bulgaria receive the support needed to be changers, entrepreneurs, creators! Inspiration is contagious!
Image

Today I am opening to you and I depend on your trust in my Potential and my ability to… make a change. 

I’m currently fundraising to raise money for a project I am incredibly passionate about launching in Bulgaria- a program which will empower young people to be active citizens and contributors to their communities, in addition to walking the path of self-creation with confidence. Read more here: http://mnazer.com/2013/10/25/need-your-feedback-on-how-to-inspire-bulgaria/

My life has been immensely transformed by good people who have believed in me. From the very first months when I started my charity in 9th grade, miracles have happened and good people have opened their hearts and given support to my small, but crazily enthusiastic attempts to bring change, meaning and happiness in the world around us. The support I have received in the implementation of my ideas has been so empowering! It has given me the confidence that my ideas MATTER, that there is always a way to turn your dreams into reality!

I want to find more Bulgarian youngsters who dare to be change-makers and contributors and work with them, train them, help them run their projects and continue creating exchange of ideas, inspiration, support and knowledge.

If you want to help me, you can do so at least in two ways:

  • Donate as much as you can afford here: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/6ds7e/ab/42GdSb? Or directly through Paypal using my e-mail (magi.nazer@gmail.com). I have set up an account to use just for the project and every contribution will be displayed at the “Contributors” page of the project website for more transparency (unless you don’t want to);
  • Share: with anybody who might be enthusiastic to help!

Let’s prove that inspiration is contagious!

​Thank you in advance!​

With much love and appreciation,

Maggie​ Nazer


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!


Family

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music
Love is unlimited, time is not!
Mama’s got a girlfriend,
mom loves the ladies
Mama’s really happy when you’re looking at her these days
Papa’s got a boyfriend, yeah,
Dad is a man’s man
Everybody’s family, loving everybody he can…
Oh the old world is turning around like a top
and there’s nothing you and I should even try to do to stop it
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and get what you need
And lots of us are happy in a different kind of family
Oh the old world is turning around like a top
And there’ s nothing you or I should even try to do to stop it
There aren’t any limits when you follow the line that love leads
In a world that seems to be increasing in conformity
It’s harder and harder to be who you want to be
It takes a lot of courage to stand up and get what you need

Poor Remy

Categories: Midd Blogosphere, music

Poor Remy

These guys visited Middlebury college a few weeks ago and had a truly wonderful performance I was lucky to watch from the first raw, dancing just half a meter apart from them.

Their songs are full of rhythm, passion, honesty and sensitivity.

Full of optimism and genuine emotion. Check them out and see for yourself!


The cleaner who became a teacher

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

They say your first job is meant to be awful. It is clear that more often than not your first job will not guarantee you a sense of fulfillment; it is simply a milestone on the path to personal triumph.

I started working in the ninth grade.

My first job was as a cleaner in the house and office of my employer. I would go there two to three times per week after school, dust the furniture, mop the floors and clean the space in front of the building. At first I was quite ashamed to tell my friends what I did, but soon I realized that there is no bad job when you earn money in an honest way through labor and diligence. I worked there for a year and a half and while it remained a stagnant, unstimulating position throughout this time, I did like the opportunity to exercise being happy in disadvantageous conditions. I reflect on those times with appreciation.

228168_475160032518884_1363675462_nMy second job was as a children’s party entertainer. I have worked for a lot of party companies over the past few years and I planned and hosted parties for my young guests on my own. My tasks were to make the decorations, welcome the guests and then organize games and dancing. It took quite a measure of responsibility as well, as it’s easy for children lost in the gleeful moments of a new game to injure themselves. I really liked the fact that I could be creative and always come up with new ideas for games or themed parties. What excited me the most is that games can be not only fun, but educational as well. I paid particular attention to innovations in the field of Gamification, my interest being captured both by its practical implications and its psychological context.

250593_2014367969855_7390944_nIn 2011 I started working as Manager of Youth Activities for an NGO called NC Future Now. I would meet young people to familiarize them with the different programs and projects, in which they could take part, promote our work in radios and TV shows, organize events, etc. I loved this job, as my tasks were very similar to what I’d been doing in my own charity—the only difference being that I was paid for it!

One of my most important tasks during I worked there was to get an accreditation for the organization to host and send volunteers through the European Voluntary Service (an EU funded program). I not only succeeded to get the accreditation from the institution that was reviewing the applications, but was even invited to attend a training course for youth workers in France where, to no surprise, I was the youngest participant.

***

I was in the 8th grade when I first watched “Pay it Forward”. I was greatly inspired, and started dreaming of becoming a teacher myself someday: being able to inspire my students and attune their mindsets so that they can see all the possibilities there are in the world and do the best with their potential.

In the second term of my senior year I started working as a part-time lecturer in a school close to our capital, Sofia as a part of Bulgaria’s Ministry of Education program for informal education integrated in the classroom. I had two groups of students whom I met twice a week. I taught Dance Therapy (Metadance) classes with my second graders as well as supervised a Club of Young Travelers in English with students from the sixth, seventh, and eighth grades.

430154_3408396379694_953265264_nMy Dance Therapy group consisted of fifteen lively, lovely and extremely loud and full of energy second graders. The program consisted mainly of workshops exploring movement and various dance exercises aimed to establish trust between students, reduce stress, overcome barriers in communication caused by prejudices towards children from the minorities; transform their energy and guide it into positive social actions and creativity, thus decreasing the outbursts of violation between the students. I was especially satisfied by the student’s positive reaction towards group discussions after each exercise, in which they shared interesting insights.

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551103_3495544038331_1314023837_nWith my older students age 13-15 my real challenges and successes began. I easily attracted their attention not only with my age being close to theirs, but especially with my impressive travel history. When I told them what I planned our classes to be like, they hardly believed me as they never before had acquainted themselves with informal education. Speaking English in class was as exciting for some as difficult and troublesome for others.

dsc02862The principal of the school had put some of the most difficult students in my group just so that there would be sufficient number of students. Nobody expected anything of me, but I found that a good possibility for me to show them more than they could have ever expected. Soon, I started bringing foreigners to our little school, setting up presentations about Algeria, Mexico, UK, and Morocco, attracting students from the other classes as well. A graduate from my high school who knew thirty-five languages made a great presentation on the process of learning languages.

dsc02940Some of the boys in the group were quite hard to handle, but being open and honest were my strongest instruments. I remember one of these clever, but lazy and unbelieving boys asking me why I have come to work with students who are ill-behaved and careless. I told him then that I believe in people and their potential and that I think that many times it is not that people are bad, but that for different reasons they wear masks of negativity not to be hurt, or just so that the others will like them. All of the boys were listening quietly and I was sure they understood me perfectly.

My teaching experience was a process of learning all the time both for my students and for me. There was a girl whom I let come into my classes even though she didn’t sign up in the beginning, but she actually distracted the boys and was not really interested in what we were doing. On one of the first class trips, I decided that it would be better to not take her with us so that the boys would be more concentrated. That turned out to be a decision with consequences: the two boys that I spent so much effort to engage decided not to come to class anymore. I apologized to them, thus not only learning a lesson myself, but also showing them what the right thing to do is when you are wrong.

dsc03066Through watching short movies, making presentations, engaging into fun exercises with educational content and most importantly- sharing opinions and learning from each other, I think I succeeded helping them realize that they should learn less for grades and more for themselves. I taught them they needed to be open-minded, aware of their stereotypes, responsible of their behavior and the way it affects others, and most importantly that the world has much to offer if only they are willing to work for it.

Being an educator is by all means my favorite occupation. Leading workshops for young adults during exchange programs as part of my extracurricular activities and having this amazing and transforming experience in the school gives me the confidence I am on the right track of what I want to do in my life and what the change I want to make in the world is. Improving educational systems, developing new educational tools and practices and leading people towards awareness of their need to develop is what truly makes me happy and willing to go on.

Going back hapily with the final result Organized a street action: everyone drawing together on the topic of "How will a better world look like?"" dsc03151 drawing and inviting people to share their positive message Trying out meditation Boat sailing during one of our trips

 

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


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