Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad--Bilateral Projects

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Summer 2017 Fulbright-Hays Seminars Abroad Program for High School Educators (Grades 9-12)


Seminar Title: Bulgaria in the Context of Migration and Challenges to European Cohesion
Dates: Pre-departure orientation: July 6, 2017 – July 8, 2017 (may be subject to change)
Program in Bulgaria: July 9, 2017 – August 4, 2017 (may be subject to change)
Participants: U.S. teachers, curriculum specialists, librarians, media resource specialists, and administrators at the secondary level (9th through 12th grade)

Program Content:

Bulgaria has one of the richest histories in South Eastern Europe, having been home over the centuries to Ancient Thracians, Greeks, Romans, Central Asian Proto-Bulgarians, Slavs, Roma, and Turks. The country is often described as a crossroads: between East and West, Europe and Asia, the Christian and Islamic worlds, the Soviet Bloc and NATO-members Greece and Turkey. Despite its location in Europe, Bulgaria has historically been heavily influenced by the East, having been ruled by the Ottoman Empire for five hundred years, followed by a century of Russian and Soviet domination. In 2007, Bulgaria joined the European Union (EU), yet still remains the group’s least affluent member. EU accession has opened up possibilities for increased mobility and globalization for Bulgarians, many of whom have gone to live, work, and study in Western Europe.

This seminar will introduce participants to Bulgaria’s rich cultural and political history, exploring how its past affects its current national identity. Through meetings with scholars, NGO representatives, politicians, artists and members of civil society, seminar participants will investigate the country’s historical and contemporary relationship with the EU, NATO, Russia, and Turkey and how this past has created challenges for Bulgaria’s European integration.

Since Bulgaria is an EU border state on the frontlines of the refugee and migrant crisis, we will discuss the country’s strategies for dealing with the influx of newcomers that threatens regional and European stability. The seminar will also discuss migration in a broader sense, not only addressing refugees from the Middle East and Africa, but Bulgarian migration to the EU and United States for educational and employment opportunities. Since 1989, it is estimated that more than a million Bulgarians have left the country, emigrating primarily to the United States and Western Europe. This massive “brain drain” of Bulgaria’s youngest and brightest has had a profound effect on the country demographically, economically, educationally, and culturally. Bulgarians and other Eastern Europeans have found themselves “unwanted migrants” in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, which has affected discussions about migration in Bulgaria itself.

The seminar will include travel around the country to sites of major historical, cultural, and political importance, including day-trips to Blagoevgrad, Plovdiv, Rila and Koprivshtitsa, as well as a longer tour of the South, including the border region of Haskovo, Kurdzhali and Harmanli, where a major refugee housing center is located, and the Southern Black Sea city of Burgas. Participants will also visit the north of Bulgaria, including the medieval capital Veliko Turnovo, Shumen and the coastal city of Varna, meeting with scholars, activists, minority communities, artists and educators in all of these locations.

* The final list of place may vary.

"Seminar is contingent upon the availability of funds, quality of applications, travel alerts, or identifiable concerns."

Note: The Department is not bound by any estimates in this notice.


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Last Modified: 11/17/2016