The main goal of the conference was to create a space for networking among AUBG people in academics. As it took place through zoom meetings, it allowed participants to connect from Bulgaria all the way to Ireland and the U.S.
“This gives the opportunity to us, as academics, to find more people in our field,” said Political Science Professor Robert Phillips who was on the event’s organizing committee. “People got to put a face to somebody and say ‘okay maybe we can work together’”. Phillips said the conference turned out larger than expected and added that he was glad that different generations of alumni were able to meet and form connections for future projects.
Although the panels were divided into topics by department, the participants made sure to show just how interesting the mix of majors and minors could turn out to be. The discussions during the two panels that the Modern Languages and Cultures Department organized were a good example of how the alumni have found implications of their classes in interesting forms. For example, alumnus Georgi Dzhambazov (‘09) intertwined his knowledge in computational linguistics with his interest in music in different cultures, which inspired him to pursue a PhD in Machine Learning / Music Information Retrieval.
“Very often students say that the phonetic and linguistic part [of language studies] is not so inspiring,” said Professor in French Krastanka Bozhinova. “And we saw with Georgi’s presentation that there are interesting and contemporary applications. (…) The Conference was a good occasion for the colleagues in our department to discuss our research interests and at the same time see what former students do and how they combine what they have learnt with us together with their own interests.”
The organizers and the participants at the event said they hope to turn the conference into a tradition and have it again in the near future.