What better way to celebrate AUBG and Radio AURA’s 30th birthday anniversaries than throwing a day-long music festival? AUBG students, faculty, staff, and friends from Blagoevgrad gathered together on May 2 for the AURAxAUBG Fest, co-organized by the university and the student Radio AURA.
The event began with a live radio show where current Radio AURA members and alumni, and AUBG staff members and friends shared memories and spoke about the significance of the 30-year milestone. Following the show, the guests enjoyed the performances of Presto Music School, and popular music bands Jin Monic and Hug or Handshake – which both have AUBG alumni in their ranks. The event concluded with famous rock band Kerana & Kosmonavtite.
“This place is sentimental to us because this is where the founding ceremony of AUBG took place and the building behind us was our home for the past 30 years,” said AUBG student Maria Delcheva at the beginning of the show. “The building behind us was the headquarters of the Bulgarian Communist Party and a few years later was adopted as the newly created American University. We will forever be grateful for the hospitality of the Blagoevgrad community.”
“The other reason why we are celebrating here today is that 30 years ago, the first club and the biggest club of AUBG was founded – Radio AURA,” she also said.
Radio AURA is not only the oldest student club at AUBG but also the first private radio station in Bulgaria. AURA alumni have become some of Bulgaria’s most recognizable radio voices and accomplished journalists.
Next, the stage took Tsvetana Haydushka (‘20), AURA alumna and marketing content specialist at AUBG, and current student and AURA member Sofia Budeva, who were among the fest’s main organizers.
“I wish you lots of music, many more festivals, and many cool moments not only on the radio, not only at AUBG but also in our beautiful Blagoevgrad, which we love no matter what,” Sofiya said. “Thank you for being here after three years of hardship, I hope you all have fun.”
Special guests at the radio show were Spas Dimitrov, a former MP from Blagoevgrad, and Georgi Fotev, former Minister of Education and Science, who both played a decisive role in establishing the American University in Bulgaria.
The 90s were “a time of great hope after nearly half a century of a totalitarian communist regime and lack of freedom,” Fotev said. “When I took over the Ministry of Education, my first concern was to start a big change in education in Bulgaria. One of my motives for creating AUBG was to reform our entire system of education and also to be able to bring in the American culture and spirit here.” He also stressed the importance of educating not only Bulgarian but also international students in Blagoevgrad. “When there are high values, when there is understanding, when there is boldness, when young people want to bring something new, this is valuable for both our country and the world.”
“I am a local person, and when the university was founded we were a group of five MPs from the Blagoevgrad region who were very active in supporting the idea of having the university exactly in Blagoevgrad,” Dimitrov said. “Therefore, 30 years later I have this sentiment that still hasn’t left me and I think it will stay with me forever.”
AUBG President Dr. David Evans also took part in the show to reflect on the AUBG and Radio AURA heritage. “Radio AURA is one of our first formal student activities and has been a successful tradition now for 30 years,” he said. “There are two really important things about this. First, student activities are one of the core reasons for the success of our university and the success of our students outside the classroom. And another really important thing is the radio status as a free medium. After years of state control of free media and control of information AUBG came to be a symbol of some of the rights and freedoms that Americans tend to take for granted.”